I just read Joyce Park's blog entry about her termination from Friendster. The opening paragraph sums it up pretty well:
So I was terminated from Friendster today. The reason given was blogging.
If true, this paints a poor picture of Friendster, a supposed social networking resource. It seems to me that if the Friendster management had any foresight, they would be trying to think of ways to improve their primitive idea of social networking and combine blogging, job hunting, matchmaking, and every other online social activity into one. In this industry, you innovate or die, and it looks like Friendster has chosen to die.
Many people have been cancelling their accounts as a result of Joyce's termination, or more accurately, because of the reason given to Joyce for the termination. I would probably do the same, but I never signed up for an account (the abysmal performance was too intolerable).
You might recall that my summary of Friendster's switch to PHP was mentioned on Slashdot. I can't help but think that this added tremendous exposure to Joyce's blog entry on the topic. In fact, Joyce mentioning the transition in her blog is what sparked all the attention, and it seems like Friendster benefitted tremendously as a result.
So, Friendster is dying, and now it's pretty public. Will orkut succeed where Friendster failed? Based on the lack of innovation there, it seems unlikely.
Social networking seems to be a huge market waiting to be tapped. Maybe the FOAF project will come up with something creative. If you're looking for a good research area or wondering if there are any big ideas left to be discovered, you might want to consider social networking. With a little creativity, you could easily find yourself leading the way.