I have got involved in a thread over on Jaiku about social networking, which I started by asking how people used it. It's made me crystallise some of my thoughts about the subject as I have never felt the whole Web 2.0 thing can live up to it's hype (oh -- that is such a surprise!) The discussion was specifically about sites such as MySpace and facebook. I can see a variety of issues with this type of online social networking:
  1. As one of the posters said, it becomes self selecting. You only make new friends with other members of the network or people you already know from other networks.
  2. Currently it's an issue for us grey beards as few of our social contemporaries are on-board. It significantly reduces how useful this type of service is
  3. How can you separate your personnel profile and professional profiles? For instance I have my 'professional' persona at LinkedIn. I also have personnel information on facebook and it's easy to think about types of information, or comments, that you would not want to pass from one to the other. With geographic separateness it's easier to keep what goes on at the pub away from the office for instance. However with Google it's easy to find all the information about someone, personal and professional. I guess it's fortunate that my personal life is pretty boring :-).
  4. The social sites are balkanised in the same way that IM networks are. I guess that's an opportunity for the current generation of net entrepreneurs.
On a slightly different note, I am really struggling to find something worthwhile to do with services like Jaiku and Twitter -- although I use them just to see what is going on (I may be grey, but that's no reason not to keep up).