Culture

Love is hard to find in online communities

Online neighbors can be a fickle lot. At one time, it was assumed that communities like AOL, Geocities and the Well would be the metropoli of the digital universe. Today, AOL is struggling, Geocities has been subsumed into Yahoo, and the Well is up for sale.

So it should be little surprise that online community Friendster has fallen on hard times as a younger generation seeks out other networks such as MySpace and Facebook--at least until they move on to the next cool place to hang out. The sobering fact is that hot virtual neighborhoods can turn into suburbs practically overnight in the cyberspace, the same way they do in the physical world.

And just as Detroit, St. Louis, Dallas and other cities are constantly trying to attract business, virtual destinations must also find reasons to keep people from moving away. Friendster may not have shown the most savvy or sensitivity in its recent e-mail campaign, but its desperation is understandable.

Blog community response:

"It may be that there is level of connectedness that is ideal to maintain the 'coolness' factor for these services. So, this begs the question...is there a point at which a technology-driven social network reaches (to steal a bit of terminology from Stuart Kauffman) a 'complexity catastrophe of relationship capital?'"
--Visible Path

"So I'm on 4 social networking sites (Friendster, MySpace, Dodgeball, Facebook). None of them have made me any new friends although a couple years ago Friendster did help me get back in touch with at least one person with whom I had lost touch. These days all they're good for is stalking others or being stalked."
--Tennessee Whiskey

"I've always had a hard time understanding the value proposition of Friendster outside of a network dating site. Now I get a daily spam email from Friendster. Woot! Perhaps social networking for the sake of social networking alone isn't enough to drive interest and repeat usage. Looks like content really is king."
--Rogelio Choy