: Lots of money is pouring into social networking software lately.
I remain unconvinced.
If Friendster is a new way to get laid, fine. I get that. Same as Match.com. I recently met a woman at an event who was smart and charming and very attractive and she had a boyfriend with an unusual background (nothing kinky, but just odd enough to make me ask, as polite conversation, how the heck she met him). She leaned over to my ear and whispered, “Match.com.” I’ve known coworkers who met and married from Match. Stigma dead. So I get that.
But I’ve joined Ryze and LinkedIn and the brand new Tribe.net and I’ve not made a single connection worth anything and have only faced a daunting user interface with little tangible payoff.
Other people have joined these networks and become drowned in connections. As Anil Dash said at the Always-On breakfast, he needs a network of his networks. We’ve seen posts about people committing Friendster suicide.
The cost of entry is high: You need to spam your own friends. The effort is high. The payoff unclear.
Maybe I’m just old (and married) and that’s why I don’t grok this. But I’m not thinking that this is going to take over the modern world the way that VCs apparently think, judging by their current funding.
The problem is that these networks are essentially artifical: You have to go out of your way.
At the Online News confab, two former colleagues many years and worlds apart me for — who also knew each other — Elizabeth Osder and Howard Finberg — said that what we really need is a service that collects and calculates and categorizes existing connections: Take our resumes and find the overlaps and connections. In a sense, that’s what blogs do: They capture the connections organically, as they happen; you don’t have to work to create them. It’s the difference between Web personalization (work) and TiVo personalization (automation).
I do believe there’s something here; we want to see and act on our connections. As I said at Always On’s breakfast, we need something at my day job that cuts between the low commitment of a forum and the high commitment of MeetUp. But the trick will be capturing those connections naturally.
I’m waiting — eager — to be convinced my instinct is wrong.
: Ross Mayfield has more.