The Economist has recently produced a great article on the current state (and potential future) of social networks:
It initially comments on the revenue and partnerships these new environments (e.g. Facebook) have:
So it is entirely conceivable that social networking, like web-mail, will neverHowever it brings us back to reality (removes some of the hype) and argues that with email still the ubiquitous communication medium and with open standards for portability of your social graph:
make oodles of money
Social networking may end up being everywhere, and yet nowhereI personally think that in the future there will be a tangible social space but that these areas will be focused far less around building freinds/contacts in each environment and more around the features & functionality that each environement provides (made possible by Open Social?).
The big issue (and one I have not full got my head around yet) is potentially having to decide which of my friends/business contacts/associates fits into each particular environment (and having to tell some that "well I like you, I just don't want to know you in that online space").
What is potentially going to be even harder... is finding the path amongst the blurred lines between individual and the company communication. An organisation, potentially made up of many individuals, will have its own social graph. However, if it decides to have two different conversations in two different functional area/places..... how will it maintain the consistency of approach and still retain the human and transaparent qualities required in modern extended corporate communications?