The social network is dead. Long live the social network.
That’s the long and short of a story in the new Wired (sorry, no direct article link yet) about Virtual Laguna Beach, the avatar-based network that’s exploding in popularity (even beating out Second Life’s growth curve).
While the piece is also a cautionary tale about the lagging fortunes of MTV – one of the world’s most powerful brands that seems caught between its old media foundations and new media rat-race, unable to figure out what clear-cut strategy is required – the article describes how powerful avatar-based networks could become (read: not yet) and deliver knockout punches to, um, MySpace and Facebook.
While MySpace and, to a lesser extent, Facebook, remain popular, I’m convinced both sites probably will be just programming forums for TV shows, selling stuff, et al., in terms of their influence by the end of this decade and far, far less about individual ranting about stuff or posting drunken camera phone .jpegs from the other night at Inside nightclub. Unless you really have low expectations of your online experience and really love the badly-designed CSS on MySpace, you’re going to abandon ship really quick when you get a load of Second Life, There.com and Virtual Laguna Beach if you haven’t discovered them already.
Also, Mark Zuckerberg, dude who runs Facebook? If you’re going to sell, you better do it soon. No really, soon.