Seeing is believing on social networks

Tech Culture

As the Web 2.0 evolutionary cycle progresses, the next natural phase of interactive technologies could arguably be universal video correspondence. The reason: identification.

We're not necessarily talking about visual IDs for credit card information and such, though that's certainly a worthy application. A more pressing need may very well be social.

Think of MySpace. Teenagers should be able to view and speak live to the strangers they're meeting, for example, to make sure that the person on the other end really is someone in their age range and not a 55-year-old predator. And people who use online dating sites could save loads of time by finding and contacting candidates directly through real-time video correspondence to weed out the also-rans.

TagWorld is one social networking site that is trying to get ahead of this curve by allowing free downloads of video chat software customized to work with its service. Although many other types of video software are available, TagWorld is trying to integrate the technology as a fundamental part of its social network, automatically including friends lists in the video window much like an instant-messaging experience.

Such communication works, of course, only if all parties have Webcams. Therein lies the reason that video may be the next step in the historical development of social networking. Just as is the case in the business world, truth in advertising is a crucial component to the success of a thriving digital community.

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