I have not jumped on the social networking software bandwagon, though I'm definitely curious about it. I wouldn't be as harsh as Scott Rosenberg, who wonders what all the fuss is about:
There's a forced, binary choice in the "friend/not friend" classification, when in real life we all have a lot of "sort of" friends. The connections the service elucidates are really more typically acquaintances and not close friends, anyway.
Caterina is more optimistic. Nevertheless:
I still think that the latent possibilities of these social networks are as yet untapped. Right now they're like floating features without associated apps.
Like Cory Doctorow, I'm not in the dating market, and I wouldn't expect Friendster to find me a job.
Does the current Balkanization of the networks work for them or against?
Being a member of one large homogeneous network feels to me like
going to high school with 10,000 other kids, so small is good.
But in separated islands of community, people are not making the connections that they could. Maybe we need something meta Friendster.
On the other hand, maybe not.
I agree with Caterina that Justin Hall may have it right:
To the vast majority of casual Internet users, especially those without personal Web pages, the services are a great way to establish an online identity.
"They're great for people without a Web page," Hall said. "If you don't have a Web page, people can find out where you are and what you are up to. I have loads of non-Internet-savvy friends on Friendster, and they love it."
Leta has a great idea for an application that might be suited to one of the Sters.
You're in a play, and you want to tell people you know about it, and you want them to tell you about what they're doing.
It's open-ended, and not. It's bounded by geography: only a handful of people in D.C. care about what my friends David and Loretto, who now live in North Carolina, are doing. If I find out that an acquaintance of Russell's is doing something interesting in Baltimore, that's okay.
But I really don't care about some fourth-order buddy in Seattle and his project.
I had suggested a newsgroup to Leta before, but she didn't bite.
Perhaps because the information space is too flat. (More likely, because she had better things to do than set this thing up.)