Do we need this?

For the last couple of years I've played with the idea of a column on social networking - Friendster, Orkut, and the like. I've received a handful of invitations to join some of these networks, but have preferred to waste my time in a less social manner. The simple truth is that although I'm convinced that the internet has enormous social (as opposed to "personal") potential, I can't figure out what these networks can offer other than a feeling of belonging - a feeling that then demands a great deal of time and effort in order to be maintained. So while I've wanted to examine these networks, I haven't been willing to devote the time to actually doing so.

But it's not only that. It's also a case of being rather convinced that the "service" that a network such as this offers is readily available without the formal network of belonging. Well before these "networks" became popular, people were joining and dropping out of online "communities", and they'll probably continue to do so after these same networks fade away. They don't seem to offer anything, beyond a fancy framework, that can't be achieved with more "traditional" tools.

Go to: Who cares?