I'm looking at the future in friendster.com. A few friends of mine had sent me invited, and last night Julia gave me a little nudge, so I invested thee 15 minutes to get it up and running. It's social software with a brain, the personal flip side to biz-networking sites like Ryze and it's ilk. These are all attempts to use the net to leverage the six-degrees effect for a wide range of people. Some time in the future, this will all be integrated with blogs, solid digital ID and e-commerce and we'll have another economic boom. Myabe it will be enough to keep us limping along until the Hydrogen Economy let's us grow wealthier by using less.
It's almost frightening how well this works. It asks you for your favorite TV show. One thing I put on was the PBS news hour. Sutably obscure, so out of curiosity I clicked on it and found a number of other people with similar interests. Then I clicked one photo at (attractive dame) random. Turns out she lives on Statin Island and is connected to me through two people I do not know. Same for another DJ/producer chick who shares my taste in books. It seems to be pervasive among online-ish youth here in NY. I also found a few people I used to date. Wonder if they're friends or not. Social stuff can be awkward too.
Anyway, the people behind this are going to be rich like Saudi princes if they play their cards right. They're building meta-community and letting the people fill in the roots and making it work: they might have 2 million users or more, but it still feels friendly and personal because you find people the social way. I was talking to alex in our long discussion on the "Dean Dollop" thread below about how the internet doesn't really disintermediate everything, it just makes your relationships more effective, transparent, safe, powerful, useful, and (maybe most importantly) diverse.