David Kirkpatrick (Fortune) writes:
In the free-ranging world of the Internet, the ties created by social-networking sites have people excited. Some are calling it a social revolution. Much of the talk has focused on how well sites like Friendster aid dating. But social networking can be used for lots of other things–for example, at a later stage in life, finding a babysitter. You might find someone to play tennis with, or someone who likes the same kind of music you do and can suggest new artists. And if the best jobs come through connections, what better way to find work than through a giant online social network? In San Francisco, where unemployment is rampant and social networking is nearly an obsession for just about everyone under 35, it seems everybody looking for a job is using sites like Friendster, Linkedin, Tribe.net, or Ryze, all of which allow you to join only if you invite friends to join with you, or if you are yourself an invitee.
The phenomenon may be seen as offering people tools analogous to the most powerful ones being used in business. Writes Yong Su Kim, who maintains a blog on software trends at YSK.com: “It’s almost like the CRM and ERP of peoples’ professional and personal lives. Social-networking software is designed to help people look for new relationships (acquire customers), maximize existing relationships (sell to the installed base), and optimize their social interactions (order management, manufacturing, supply chain, and distribution).”
There may be a new kind of Internet emerging–one more about connecting people to people than people to websites. The blog phenomenon, where blogs link to blogs, is another aspect of this same trend. Mark Pincus, an investor in Friendster and founder of Tribe.net, calls this the early phases of the “peopleweb”–a user-controlled network of identities and relationships that transcends any one site or company. How that web will take shape remains murky, but in the explosive growth of social networking we are surely seeing the future, using the Net to connect people with bonds of trust and friendship–and maybe sex.