Gory details of social network software

More good discussion on Joi’s site about LinkedIn.

I invited a bunch of people into my network on the service in order to get a feel for it. I’m not yet convinced Reid Hoffman et al have hit the mother lode, but they’ve made a start. The question is how well and how quickly they can evolve.

There are two issues for any social networking service: scale and functionality. It’s a prototypical network-effects business — there’s only room for one eBay, and the first one up the mountain wins. But to scale beyond the early adopters, especially with competition, these services have to do something valuable and create a good user experience. LinkedIn’s core service — trusted business introductions — is useful but not, I think, a killer app. If the company does its job well, its may stumble on a real killer app, as PayPal did. (We know one good app for social networking is dating, but that’s a different market.) There’s really no way to understand the possibilities of social software other than to build networks and watch what unfolds.