Peer Networking: What’s Next?

First it was Friendster. Then it was MySpace. Next it was Facebook. Now it’s Twitter. As online peer networking systems have matured, millions across the globe have migrated from one to another. Some opt to close accounts as they make the jump. Others leave their abandoned accounts open, checking them rarely, if ever, and effectively turning some peer networking sites into online ghost towns.

But newly emergent applications aim to bring peer networking services together. Users can now display their Twitter feeds on their Facebook pages, while sites such as FriendFeed are aiming to take this aggregation of content even further, allowing users to manage all their peer networking experiences through one portal. The question is: Will this merging of peer networks eventually make them indistinguishable from each other?

According to Chris Kenworthy, the answer is an unequivocal “maybe.” Kenworthy has been running online communities for a decade. He has one of his own and is active in others through his employer, Escalade Media, which runs 15 to 20 peer networking sites.

Kenworthy thinks people will continue to seek out certain peer-based online destinations for specialized content but that aggregation of sites such as Facebook and MySpace is the wave of the future.

“We find that people are seeking out that niche information and they’re doing that more so than ever on forums,” Kenworthy said. “But we’re also definitely seeing a tie-back to those hubs — MySpace, Facebook and Twitter — within our own online communities. I think that…



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