Dare writes on Open Social Networks. One thing he doesn't bring up, though, is the existence of specialized social networks and how they fit into the whole. He uses Flickr and YouTube as examples of sites that have good API's for getting and setting data, but part of the point of those is that they exist solely to allow users to push around specific types of content: images on Flickr, movies on YouTube. Facebook and MySpace have lots bigger fish in mind, wanting to take over your whole mindshare. It's an interesting evolution, isn't it? For a long time we talked about Microsoft and how they wanted to control everything on your desktop; then Google came along and we talked about how having everything in your browser was better than having everything in your desktop. Now it's not enough to have everything in the browser; we have to have it all on our social networking site. The one thing this really points out to me, though, is the fragility of these sites - for a while MySpace was the hot toy, but now it's Facebook. Is there any reason to think Facebook will be the place to be in six months or a year? I don't see one.
I learned via TechMeme, though, that Jeff Pulver is leaving LinkedIn for Facebook. I think it's a mistake, Jeff. LinkedIn is specialized; it exists for business contacts. It will probably be around in a couple of years, linking up business contacts. Facebook will probably be gone as people move on to the Next Big Thing.
To sum it up, it appears to me that the real evolution of social networking is going to be LinkedIn for business contacts; Flickr for pictures, LibraryThing for books, and then maybe a few small sites like Facebook and MySpace that aggregate all this data into a coherent whole for people who aren't interested in creating their own websites that aggregate all this data, or are nervous about being outside of the walled garden. But Facebook ain't the future. Don't expect it to be.