Have you been plotting the next productive application that would transform the way people work together via social networks? If so, you might want to give up on it. I’ve spent the past few hours browsing through the MySpace application directory and Facebook application directory and I simply can’t seem to find a single productive application with a lot of users.
This is why gaming applications are some of the most popular apps on Facebook. These sites are what humans connected to the internet use when they want to go waste some time. While there are a number of other sites that have found ways to attract your attention and waste your time, social network sites appear to be the leading source of poor time management on the web.
It caters to the same sort of escapism that we seek when we spend time watching the television. While we occasionally use these mediums to transmit important information the majority of it appears to be conversation centric. While the medium has transformed the way that we interact in the virtual world, I’m beginning to think that most public social network sites are simply virtual playgrounds.
Facebook has been trying to avoid such categorizations for the longest time and emphasizing their existence as a social utility. Unfortunately it appears that most of the users do not want to use it for much more than entertainment purposes and it is rapidly becoming a media entity similar to MySpace. While I believe that there can be social utility (as found through sites such as Intellipedia), much of the business-centric utility is lost in public facing social network sites.
Do you see long-term utility based value coming from the larger social network sites? Do you think the new external facing platforms will help solve this or will it simply amplify it?