In the last few weeks I've gotten more invitations to friends via Orkut then I have from all the other social networks I've tried out. I currently have 61 friends there (and they are all people I know reasonably well), whereas in several months I have only 50 connections in LinkedIn. Oddly, the number of friends I have in each of these is less the older they are. In Ryze I have 36, and in Tribe.Net I have 32, and in my oldest FriendlyFavors, I have 5.
One good thing has come out of Orkut, I've found email addresses for some old friends that I thought I'd lost. Yet I am very frustrated by Orkut -- it made some minor user-interface improvements over some of the others, but fundamentally misses the boat. My biggest problem with Orkut is that it reveals far too much information -- do I really want to know that business associate Y is in an open marriage, or that X is gay and single? But that in some ways is minor problem -- the problem is that it appeals the "friend counter" evil angel on our shoulder, not to the "help me be a better member of my community" good angel.
by my count, there are more than 100 social networking services that I have been observing — cruising past my virtual radar gun — in the past few months. I have been tracking this burgeoning growth of services aspiring to help discover and connect my friends, potential partners, business cohorts, and various levels of acquaintances — and I have this scary feeling that I am only carving shavings off of the tip of an iceberg with this list.
Affinity Engines, Amigos.com, AsiaFriendFinder, Backwash, Backwash for Pets, BuddyBridge, BuddyZoo, Buzznet, Chia Friend, Classmates.com, Community Zero, Company of Friends, The Conneck, Contact Network, Corporate Alumni, del.icio.us, Delphi Forums, Dogster, Dude Check This Out!, easeek, ecademy, eConozco.com, eFriendsnet, 8minuteDating, Eliyon, enCentra, EntreMate, Eurekster!, everyonesconnected, Evite, First Tuesday, FriendFan.com, FriendFinder, Friendity, Friend Surfer, Friends Reunited, Friendster, Friendzy, Funchain.com, GermanFriendFinder, Globe Alive, GoingProfessional, gradFinder, Growth Company, HeiYou, HelloWorld, hipster, Huminity, I’m Not From Here, IndianFriendFinder, InterAction, ItsNotWhatYouKnow, KnowMates, LianQu, LinkedIn, Living Directory, Love.com, The Lunch Club NYC, Match.com, matcheroo, Mediabistro, MeetUp, MixerMixer, Monster Networking, mrNeighborhood, MyEMatch, NetMiner, Netmodular Community, Netparty, Netplaya Burning Man Community, Networking For Professionals, Nerve, Online Business Networking Resource, The Opinion Exchange, orkut, PalJunction, Passion.com, peeps nation, PowerMingle, qpengyou, RateOrDate, RealContacts, RedDate.com, ReferNet, RepCheck, Ringo, Ryze, Salesforce.com, SeniorFriendFinder, Shortcut, Silicon Valley Pipeline, Small World Project, Social Circles, Social Grid, SocialTree, Sona, The Spark, Spoke Software, StumbleUpon, Sullivan Executive Networking Community, Talk City, TENG, There, Tickle by Emode, Tribe.net, uDate.com, UUFriends, Visible Path, Wallop, WhizSpark, WisdomBuilder, WiW, WorldShine, YeeYoo, YOYO, Zdarmanet, and Zerodegrees.
Leander Kahney writes in Wired: Social Nets Not Making Friends:
Perhaps it was inevitable. A backlash is under way against social networking services like Friendster, as more and more companies crowd to join the latest hot Internet trend. Sick of invitations to join networking services, and the constant nagging to validate friends or acquaintances, some people are turning against the ever-growing social networking services.
Right now only LinkedIn comes halfway to my expectations, and still has a long way to go. I still stand by my post of a month-and-a-half ago Evaluating Social Network Services
The Perfect Social Networking Service: My ideal service would have the the multiple professional affiliation features of LinkedIn, but also allow me to show non-professional affilations. It would allow me to form intentional communities like Tribes.Net, but would also let me do a Wiki in addition to a message board. It would have meeting/party invite services like eVite, and blogging features like LiveJournal. It would have an endorsement system like LinkedIn integrated not only with professional endorsements, but personal endorsements as well, and you could even endorse intentional communities. It would let me better map and control my network, giving different friends different privileges. It would handle the release of my personal information like Ryse, but less clunky.
With so many others out there, they may all fail, and the good ideas that are hiding behind the bad will not survive.