Cory Doctrow, a Canadian writer who I have alot of respect for, has just written an article about Facebook, and social network in general. Cory believes that social networks come and go because people eventually encounter an awkward social connection. A friend from highschool, college or co-worker that you don’t really want as a ‘friend’. After reading the article I think Cory is way off the mark.
First off, I think social networks have come and gone because they fail to achieve a critical mass. People left friends, and myspace because their friends weren’t on in any regular or consistent basis. This has gotten better with each generation of social networks ( friends->myspace->facebook). In Canada Facebook has achieved an incredible market penetration and its similar to Orkut in Brazil in Latin America. Soon after Orkut launched it took off in Brazil and remains the dominate social network today. Not because its innovation, but because it achieved critical mass in social circles to the point where it was efficient not to be on Orkut.
I think another comparison would be email. The ratio of real email to spam has been out of whack for years now but people are still using email because its still the primary means to connect with people. There is enough value and effficiency to make it worth while. As long as social network can do the same it will remain popular.
The article also made reference to Facebook allowing profile pictures to be used in sponsor advertising. While Facebook does claim ownership over this information I was able to find any reference to Facebook use profile pictures this way. The link included in the article just talks about Facebook adding profiles to Google search which I don’t think is the same thing or not atleast in anyways I can understand.