Interesting post over at download squad on the future of social networking: Social networks of the future could be email based:
While Facebook, Friendster and MySpace are the big names in social networking these days, tomorrow’s social networking giants could be Yahoo! and Google. And we’re not talking about Google’s OpenSocial platform.
The New York Times’ Saul Hansel suggests that Yahoo! and Google are working on bringing social networking features to your email account. Think about it. What’s the first thing that happens when you sign up for Facebook? The service scans your email address book to find friends who are already members. There’s a lot of valuable information in your inbox. So it makes sense that the companies providing your email service might want to build on that information and give you a few more reasons to stick around their site all day.
As a lot of the comments from the post suggest, this actually seems like a step back to 1990′s where folks used email forums very effectively, so we know this model will work. I think the question is more who will adopt the email based social networking and give up the more “social” aspects of it. It’s an interesting shift in the industry as folks look for ways to consolidate their social network information & contacts and get the most bang for their buck.