In the UK Daily Telegraph last week (Thursday 8th August) Stephen Adams and Rupert Neate wrote about social networking changes.
Of this British research from Ofcom, the communications regulator, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are clear winners. Twitter grew 1679%, Facebook 73% and LinkedIn 69%.
Losers were SecondLife (-67%) Bebo (-17%) and MySpace (5%).
The major headline was the number of 35 to 54 year olds using social networking grew by 25%. being in the earlier of those two brackets I can relate to the slow uptake and general computer behaviours of my peers and elders, but even my Mum is on FaceBook now. The article then went on highlight 40-46 percent growth for 25 to 34 year olds, whilst 15 to 24 year olds usage fell by 10 percent.
What is suggested by one researcher is that as older folk (perhaps parents) log on to a social network it becomes less appealing for teenagers. I think its plausable, buy since Bebo, a teen oriented site with little adult membership, is shrinking its probably simply a sign of the times. Social networks have become passe.
I think, short sharp messaging such as twitter and the emergance of a some more spatially aware user interfaces are more likely to dominate in the near future for the teenagers. Social data may later simply become a social timeline - a this a your life of your online foot notes. Social networking I propose will be common place as part of using an application or service people will use. Be the skateboarding network or the village book-club.
What I thought was quite intriguing about the article was some of the data about TV. In the UK a quarter of households are using the internet for catch-up television. This is astonishing as, if my family are anything to go by, most cannot explain the difference, between a browser, the internet, an operating system or a common application suite such as Office. I doubt if they could explain what a social network was, but they certainly can understand and articulate the many forms and access to television.