An interesting article in this morning’s New York Times titled Social Networking’s Next Phase to my attention. It makes the announcement that next week Cisco Systems plans to announce that it is buying the technology assets of Tribe.net, a mostly forgotten social networking site.
According to the article, the deal will give Cisco the technology to help large corporate clients create services resembling MySpace or YouTube to bring their customers together online. The article continues:
The new social networking players, which include Cisco and a multitude of start-ups like Ning, the latest venture of the Netscape co-creator Marc Andreessen, say that social networks will soon be as ubiquitous as regular Web sites. They are aiming to create tools to let ordinary people, large companies and even presidential candidates create social Web sites tailored for their own customers, friends, fans and employees.
The rest of the article expands on what is driving this next phase of social networking, and what it may look like.
I find it fascinating for a couple of reasons, firstly, I’ve been impressed with Cisco’s ability to read such trends in the past. Theirs was one of the first papers on learning objects that I came across back in 2000, and although these original concepts have been developed further since then, the foundations were laid.
Secondly, I signed up for an account with Ning when it was first released – then did little with it until the team from Ning announced just a few weeks ago that they’d totally re-vamped the site. Since then I’ve been looking with interest at the new functionality that has been introduced, and the subtle ways in which the community building capabilities it provides differ from the more established social networking sites mentioned above. I haven’t yet got to the stage of creating my own social networking community, but have certainly enjoyed visiting others.
Keep watching this space…!