There's a lot of buzz about social networking software, which has to do
mostly with sites that exist to connnect people for social and/or business purposes. The best known such sites include friendster.com, ryze.org, and linkedin.com.
I really do like the potential of such sites. I figure we all crave a greater
sense of connection, of intimacy, to people in our lives. (I theorize
that sitcoms that have that sense are the ones with legs, like MASH,
Northern Exposure, Seinfeld, Friends, even The Sopranos.)
Specifically, journalists and investors are the ones talking about social
software. For a few months earlier this year, ordinary users were pretty
excited about this.
I have a lot of connections at these sites, though I haven't found one
that generates that sense of intimacy, just speaking personally.
I think a social networking site will really be successful when they
figure out how to provide some real sense of intimacy. I feel that a
prequisite for that is to demonstrate a culture of trust, and that takes
months or probably years.
Great customer service is part of this, but it's not taken seriously in
the usual corporate culture.
There are also technical requirements, mainly, that a site which does this
must scale well and perform well with lots of users. Trust is still a far
more important consideration than technology.
I figure that someone will figure this out and do it right; that might be
one of the existing sites, or maybe someone will surprise everyone.