This was the year of the social network (okay, it was also the year of Facebook, specifically, widgets and Twitter). The explosive growth of Facebook to challenge My Space here min the U.S. and the growth of social networks throughoout the world are all part of the story. So is the thr growth of specialty social networks.
How many can one person practically belong to?
Today in the NYTimes, Matt Richtel ran a story on social networks for geezers. (There are some who think I fall into that category which gives me permission to use that term). There are networks for parents, for Web 2.0 geeks (again, some call me geek, so, I get to use the word), for disease sufferers. You name it, there's a social network. Many have a similar structure - usually some sort of personal profile with some type of posting, peer communication or publishing. And many have pined for "one-ring-to-rule-them-all" - some meta-SNS where my content is pushed out to all of my networks.
Until that meta-social network really exists (not just a list of links like My Mashable), I doubt the growth potential of some of the specialty networks. If I join eons.com (not yet, please), I will expect to share information about health conditions in that network. I doubt I would join PatientsLikeMe unless I suffered some significant and life-altering condition. Currently that site demonstrates itself around MS, ALS and Parkinson's - all are serious conditions requiring some significant coping to live life fully. ClinicaHealth runs white-label social networks for patient advocacy groups like the ALS Association. Similar issue - these are terrific ways to connect a group who has a significant affinity over something.
But what if I have a chronic health condition not so immersive (I do)? And what if I have a half dozen or an even dozen other strong passions where I would love to participate with a focused community of like-minded individuals on those specific topics? Now I am not talking about my favorite author or musician. that is pretty well covered in the major, general social networks. What if I own a Ford Mustang and want to consistently share about Mustangs and want to share my short fiction with people who dig short fiction and want to explore social media with digital geeks... Anyhow, you get the picture. I am pining away for the common profile, the meta-social network aggregator.
I experiment a little. Here is what I belong to that I still remember the logins for:
It wouldn't take much to figure out that I am not "working" each of these communities. I am only human and could not participate on a meaningful level. I am still exploring each and have high hopes to do more in many of them. But this list doesn't tell the whole story. I also belong to RevolutionHealth, del.icio.us, Flickr and a host of other Web 2.0 offerings that each have community aspects to them.
So, how many social networks can you belong to in a meaningful way? And what are the hurdles to reach that super-network that allows for the individual communities (and business models that support them) to flourish?