Friendster is the social software tool we can most easily reference, I think, and as most of us have noticed, you kind of hit a wall. Once you have joined up your gallery of friends, signed their yearbook pages with appropriate witticisms, had a few fun reconnections, and marvelled at how purdy your 35 friends are, you begin to realise that you have given over your entire social network and marketing-worthy interests to a commercially-driven enterprise. Creepy, right? And if you are not cruising for love or lays, where's the payoff?
Then everyone was buzzing about tribe.net, an interest-driven network that has a more controlled member access and more appealing forums, and the ablility to block trolls.
I kinda snoozed a bit, cuz the backlash is on, with a bunch of people calling for social network builders to create more refined, intuitive and useful community software that we will value beyond the novelty of the first few days.
I have always been skeptical about "lean forward" interactive narratives and mediocre flash experiments becoming high art. Community, as far as this whole New Media shizinit is concerned, has always been where it is at. Now, it seems, non-geeks are able to articulate what they want in their online communities/networks. And that is very cool.
In the olden days, I hear, they would hire a band,rent out a space, and people would dance together.