So first there was Friendster. Hey, cool, put all your friends on here and find new ones and so on and so forth. It seemed like a good idea at the time. Friendster was neat for a while, but it wasn't very useful. The only time I ever actually did any "social networking" there was after I blogged about it here. It seems to do little more than simply list the people you know. I log on from time to time to update my profile and see if anyone's around. Nothing ever happens.
Along came Tribe.net. This place was jumping from the minute I signed up. So many tribes to join, people buying and selling, job listings, notices of cool goings on. But this time, they must have done a bad job of advertising, because not a single person I know offline is on Tribe, aside from my wife--who only got on because I did. And, as with Friendster before I blogged about it, Tribe.net did precisely nothing in so far as "networking" me with anyone. It also quickly became a pain in the ass to read any of the tribe messages, and with the sheer volume--as I'd joined a billion tribes that seemed interesting--made it impossible to keep up with them all. I abandoned Tribe.net, and only came back to update my profile recently. It seems to be just as active, but I still know nobody.
The other big social networking service I joined was MySpace, as mentioned in my last post. MySpace was a more useful than either Friendster or Tribe.net, but uglier than both. But I actually do get new people who share my interests messaging me and wanting to be my friend. I've added a few that seemed sincere. I was a "cool new person" on the front page a little while back and got well over 200 friend-whores wanting to add me to their 450-person lists. I denied them all, because that seems pretty pointless. A lot of people I know offline are on MySpace, which helps flesh out the network. So MySpace wins for utility so far.
I'm wondering, though, how do other people use any of these you're on? Do you just add the people you already know and use it as a substitute for actual live contact? Do you search for people with similar interests or in your area and chat them up? Have you ever actually met someone you'd call a "friend" in the traditional context of the word? Do you think the whole idea is bankrupt and stay out of it all together? I'm curious.
There's not really a point to be found in this post. I just remember that when Friendster came around people thought it was some great revolution in meeting new people. I'm not so sure anything revolutionary has happened yet.
If you're on any of the three above and want to do a little networking in my direction, just click on the links to your right . . . no, lower. Yeah, there, under "connections" and before "syndication."