Sunday, 30 March 2008


People are committing Facebook suicides, traffic figures are down, there is an avalanche of complaints about privacy. Bebo is bought by AOL - the company whose takeover of Time Warner signalled the end of the dotcom boom, and thousands of niche social networks are emerging, including one from the FT charging £2,000 per year - but all are struggling to find sustainable advertiser funded models in a market being flooded by advertiser funded models.

Will these sites die? No, social networking is here to stay. Social networking was here before social networking sites, in forms such as email and news groups. These new sites just made it easier. What's likely to happen going forward is that community elements get embedded into some of our everyday applications such as email, calendar, and address functionality, search engines, and portals. I expect social networking to become a feature of other services, rather than a destination as it is now

Additionally with data portability, you will not be locked to just one provider going forward, and the walled gardens they are attempting to build will become futile exercises in defence. You'll be able to connect to friends wherever they are, and whatever networks they are on. And if you choose to leave a network your data will come with you.

Plaxo has already made a first move towards owning this space. Plaxo Pulse claims "It's like a personal news page that automatically brings you what your family, friends, and business connections are choosing to share from all over the web." It allows its members to pull in content and data from Flickr, Bebo, Twitter, Blogger, and many other sources once you tell it who you want to connect with.

Also email - the original digital social networking tool - seems to be making a comeback in the form of Thunderbird - a Mozilla email app. It's core claim is that it helps you better manage your unruly inbox, and stay informed. It was reported on in this week's Economist, who argued that the people you connect with via email are your real social graph, whilst those on social networking sites are long lost school friends (the friends you didn't stay in touch with), but manage your relationship from a distance with these new platforms. Although it's not clear which social networking sites are here to stay, it is clear that social networking as a whole is here to stay.


RachelC said...

take a look at Xobni ( which has been getting a lot of attention as something that can bring the social to email.

Tony Effik said...

Hi Rachel, thanks for the tip. I think we are about to see a radical evolution in email and how it's used. I didn't even know there there plug-ins for Outlook. Looks very interesting. I suffer from email overload, and use it as storage, so anything that helps manage it sounds great


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