In the Internet World people often talk about the success of MySpace and Facebook. These are given as prime examples of the success of social networking. These sites primarily cater to teenagers and (early) young adults. A close look at these sites makes it obvious that the ‘social’ networking there is based on two things: sex and teenage-friendship. Both these are essential when we are growing up and during that age (roughly 13-22) those are the two that occupy 90% attention of 90% people (numbers inspired by 90-10 rule). What a wonderful age that is! But it ends and then one faces the real world.
Well the real world is not bad, but is quite different. The two dominant ‘occupations’ of that age gradually change from sex to family-commitments and teenage-friendships to professional-networks. This gradual transformation is imminent and is more lasting. If the first period lasts from 13-22, the next lasts from 22- till death. This obviously does not mean that sex and friendships end; it only means that they don’t dominate as do in the first case. In fact in many individual cases family and professional activities dominate as strongly as sex and friendships.
It is interesting that when people think of social networking they are mostly thinking about the demographics that has limited purchasing power and is definitely going to slowly get out of that demographics. All of us pass thru that age and then stay much longer in the age that is dominated by family and profession. The lifespan addressed by social networking sites addresses relatively ephemeral part of our life.
Surprisingly, family and professional networking has not been addressed as much. Or is it that it has been addressed but has not been successful. I think one reason that current social networking has been so successful is because teenagers by definition have more time and energy and are more interested in experimenting. The real reason for networking sites not getting into professional and family area appears to be that no good ideas have come around. So there maybe a chance for innovative approaches to address this need of the society.