1, 2, 3, Many Friendsters - At Least Until the Mergers Start

There are already probably a dozen social-networking tools like Friendster. I don't know exactly how many because I haven't tried doing an exhaustive search for them.

These sites range in focus from dating, to frienship, to business networking, and back to dating.

On the political side, Care2.com has a friendster-like network of a million liberal people which promotes engagement in political action (action alerts, and online discussion). The League of Pissed Off Voters (indyvoter.org) has a very ambitious plan to also create a political friendster-like community - particularily to engage young people in electoral activism, but also for other reasons too (which aren't entirely clear to me). Indyvoter's plans are much further advanced then their current site - which isn't being used that much.

Prediction: 101 Friendster-like sites, some with slightly different target markets, are coming to an Internet near you! Then there will be a massive merger process, and you'll end up with a semi-monopoly. I don't think it will be as bad as the level of monopolization in search engines, because making a Friendster like site is far easier than creating a quality search engine ranking algorithm.

I think that ultimately there is a chance for an open source/open data Friendster-like site to obtain a large chunk of the market. If the privacy hurdles can be overcome, you could have several nonprofit open source Friendster-like sites that start sharing data and that this method will prove competitive to commercial sites because people will only have to join the network once for their information to appear in different formats. For instance, you could join once and then appear on a politically minded version/user-interface to friendster, an organizational/business networking one, and a dating one. Users could choose which networks (or parts of the ONE NETWORK) they'd like to join.

With Campus Activism/Activism Network, I've been focussing on non-Friendster like features. This is good because I'm in a niche that has very little competition - so I'm not wasting my time duplicating ideas and code. Also, once a open-Friendster comes along, I'd be happy to integrate/share data with it.


What's scary is a Friendster that has 100 million people, merges with Yahoo or Google to have a search engine, email, e-commerce, instant messenging, One Big Advertizing Network, One User Profile (feeding into the advertizing network), and if the day comes where web-based applications replace traditionally desktop applications (word processing, spreadsheets, email client, database, desktop publishing, etc).