From my perspective, the use of social networking services is on the rise. My past experience with such services includes:
Classmates – I no longer use.
MySpace – Minor presence maintained.
Facebook – Maintain contact with friends from the past and family.
Twitter – Keep up with various open source software topics.
FriendFeed – Was just a curiosity.
LinkedIn – Professional / Career contacts.
Buzz – Just started using. The jury is still out on this one.
I believe that a social networking service will evolve over time. During this course of evolution, its sustainability will be dictated by the niche it serves. In my estimation, Classmates and MySpace are as good a defunct. Sure there are still proponents of these services, but they are being replaced by other, newer services, which provide enhanced functionality and overall user experience.
I opine that Twitter is here to stay. Tweets are quick to the point in the sense that one has only 140 characters to say what needs to be said. This affords me the opportunity to discern whether or not a Tweet is worth further investigation, without investing an inordinate amount of time. This aspect of Twitter can be replicated by other social networking services, but not to the same level of efficiency. Additionally, other services are often associated with substantial bloat that does not interest me. This is evidenced by Facebook quite well.
I have only been using Buzz for a short period and have not formed a definite opinion. However, Buzz has the Google name recognition to propel it forward. I see Google Buzz as being very similar to FriendFeed in terms of functionality. This is bad news for FriendFeed, as I expect the use of FriendFeed to decline in the near future…not that I had ever really noticed significant activity that was personally of interest. I certainly look forward to future development of Google Buzz.
My goal has been to keep my personal and professional lives separate. With the preponderance of interconnectivity of social networking services, this is often difficult. Special effort has been made on my part to preclude evidence of my personal life in social networking by using LinkedIn. I use LinkedIn to establish and maintain contacts with others in my professional demographic, nothing more. It is obvious that LinkedIn is superior to other social networking services in this respect.
Overall, social networking services that tend toward openness, such as open API’s, will have their sustainability enhanced (Facebook made major advance in this direction recently by implementing XMPP as its chat protocol). Those services that rely on proprietary code will likely find it difficult to exist within the confines of our informational based society.
I should note that my opinions are based on how I use social networking services and do not necessarily coincide with the methodology employed by others.
And with that, I am off to see the wizard...