Just read Michael Arrington’s post about Ning getting to 100,000 networks this weekend. This is cool, since Ning’s demise was spoken about back in January 2006 …
Foraging through comments can be fun and often helpful … Some of the comments got me thinking about the essential nature of social network sites/tools. For instance:
I am sorry but 90% of those user created social networks are just curiosity creations and shells. They won’t last more than a few months. After the pool of fools get dried up, where will Ning’s growth be?
If everyone and their grandma runs a social network, they are as they say in finance, cannibalizing each other.
then a another person offers this a bit down the comments list:
it’s not really a ’social network’, per se;
it’s more like a somewhat different, advanced myspace page
and besides, social networks were not designed to be highly fragmented – only a select few are meant to exist.
the power is in its people – and if there are only a few, as a result of this high fragmentation – it’s purpose has been defeated
Besides some axe to grind perhaps, or just being unnecessarily smarmy … the commenters seem to say that a social network is not nor can be sustained unless it draws upon a huge number of participants or members.
I suppose there will always be a ‘popularity’ issue with some folks … getting 100’s of people as friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter. Fine – I get it – ego strokes and all that. But Ning just might be on to something, instead.
The smaller, niche social network. Or maybe I’ll call it the targeted social network … one that may only appeal to a small group (particularly when you compare it to the other biggies out there) that has a real need or desire to connect.
For instance … I have several ancestors that fought in the US Civil War; and one of them was involved in the New York City Draft Riots. Hmmmmm … I think I’ll get a small network together for folks who are interested in or researching New York Civil War ancestry. I wouldn’t expect to get 100’s of people involved … but so what.
Ning is filling a need here that the other social network giants just can’t. I think we’re going to see more and more fragmentation like this to accommodate people’s wants to have more options that are more customized for their particular interests.