With social web, it is often easy to conclude that it is a mess - just point to the fable of a million monkeys on a million keyboards. Extrapolating from here, aggregating islands of mess will only make it a bigger one. Right?
Could we be more wrong and more right at the same time ?
Social web is not an encyclopedia of human knowledge. It is not meant to be. It is the collective noise of the human race, each saying "hello, am doing good. how are you" and a zillion variants of this same message. To expect order in this is futile. To claim that this is cluttering our otherwise prim-and-propah lives is akin to calling the Tajmahal a white building.
But, as we all know, there are golden nuggets hidden in this humongous data mine. Just because it is so big or so difficult, should we give up looking? Should we not try to decipher patterns here, infer who are potential friends, what they are up to, what they have in common, or how our relations can be strengthened ? Should we not seek to better our lives by exploiting technological possibilities?
I think Yahoo is doing the right thing. The purpose of aggregation is not to seek nirvana (neither intellectual nor commercial), but enable easier social contact over the web. The nirvanas mentioned may arrive (ref: http://www.cluetrain.com/) but even if they don't, the purpose of social networking would have benefited.