Scott Gilbertson of Wired is looking past which social network is the flavor of the week, and asks if we can do away with them altogether. Since they are closed environments, all of your data and connections are locked within their walls, and can’t play well with others who don’t use your social network.
As he takes them apart, he whittles the unique value of social networks this way:
“At this point, “friend” relationships remain unique to the social networks. The web still lacks a generalized way to convey relationships between people’s identities on the internet. The absence of this secret sauce — an underlying framework that connects “friends” and establishes trust relationships between peers — is what gave rise to social networks in the first place. While we’ve largely outgrown the limitations of closed platforms (take e-mail or the web itself), no one has stepped forward with an open solution to managing your friends on the internet at large.”
Jeff Pulver illustrates how choosing social networks can create controversy in your life, as he switched from LinkedIn to Facebook.