I’ve been speaking with various people lately about how social networking has developed. Here’s one take on the matter.
First, people connected with people from their past (such as Friends Reunited or Reunion.com). That’s interesting but only for a bit until the curiosity factor wears off. There aren’t many reasons to revisit.
Secondly, people connected with people from their present just to connect (MySpace). That’s an efficient way to see what people are up to. But you know what lots of people you really like are up to, anyway, and so it seems like an efficiency gain rather than a paradigm shift in how people manage social relationships.
Thirdly, people connected with people from their present to help deepen their relationships, as well as planning events (Facebook, LinkedIn). That’s more useful because it helps you do something you want to do anyway and in a way which adds value to the process.
So, what’s the future of social networks?
One other possibility is – people connect with people from their future. Is this a social network or must a social network be people who are already connected to you in some way? Isn’t this just Match.com?
Another possibility is that people connect with people (from their present or future) in ways which harness the power of having so many people on the social network, to help take them to places they didn’t even know they wanted to go to. This moves from a social network being an efficiency play into it also adding value through a network effect. To do this, the network needs to learn about you and through your behaviours, actions and connections learn about you in a way which harnesses the power of already knowing so much about so many other people.