Orkut, the recently-launched, Google-affiliated FOAF (Cory critiques them -- and the bigger FOAF picture -- here), is offline for a while. Before the temporary beta outage, Warren Ellis logged on, sniffed around, then said:
Right now, it looks pretty much like an iteration of the Tribe.net system, with an eye on Friendster's apparent main function as a dating system. (Which means, oddly, it requests your business profile at the same time as it's asking you where you like to be fingered.) (...) It's faster than Fuckster and Tribe, but it shows that all these friend-of-a-friend things have really hit a wall. I mean, what can you actually do aside from invite all your friends and piss about on a couple of small message boards? Message boards that, unlike Tribe, allow anonymous postings and therefore devalue the message board experience? What happens after that? After you've gotten all your friends in -- whom you send email to or IM regularly in any case, presumably. That's it. All done. Until, I guess, yet another social network system opens and you start all over again.
These things want to be a hub for your Internet community experience, but they're just not necessary enough. Tribe gets closest, but it's nothing you're going to leave as an open window on your desktop all day. The first new social network system that builds an IM program into its structure may have a shot. The Delphiforums message boards have Jabber tacked on to them, which would have been brilliant when Delphi was at its height, but has gone pretty much unnoticed in the wake of their self-mutilating half-smart attempts to monetise. The idea was and is sound. The minute you make these things the easiest and most direct way to communicate with the personal network the system's let you build or collate, there's going to be a reason to keep the site on your desktop. And that has to be their goal. I mean, who builds a social network system that doesn't want people to use it all the time?
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