The article about the past of social networks mainly summarises how „social networking“ has always been present starting with chat sites like „the well“ and later compuserve, etc.
The article about the present gives an overview of the last 8 to 10 years, from Plaxo and Friendster to Facebook. Here are some snippets:
Enter Facebook. It had grown stratospherically from 2004-2007 to 100 million users, which actually was slightly smaller in December 2007 then MySpace was. Facebook was everything that MySpace wasn’t. It was: up-market, exclusive, urban, elite, aesthetically pleasing, ad-free and users were verified. MySpace was: scantily dressed, teenaged, middle-America, design chaos and on ad steroids.
What was the major difference between MySpace and Facebook?
But the critical distinction in the direction of both companies was that while MySpace was putting up moats to keep outside companies from innovating and making money off their backs, Facebook took the opposite approach. It launched open API’s and created a platform whereby third-party developers could come build any app they wanted and Facebook didn’t even want (yet) to take any money from them to do so.
He also writes about Twitter:
But what is magic about Twitter is that it is real time. In most instances news is now breaking on Twitter and then being picked up by news organizations.
At the end of this part, he mentions mobile social networking becoming the next big thing.
The third part looks at the future of social networking and states, it won’t necessarily be facebook:
I know that in 2010 it seems ridiculous to say anything other than “Facebook has won—the war is over” and I know that it feels that way right now. Facebook is so dominant it is astounding. In a complete return to where we all began with AOL—the world is “closed” again as Facebook has become this generation’s walled garden. When you’re on Facebook you’re not on the Internet
Here are the 8 trends as an overview:
1. The Social Graph Will Become Portable
2. We Will Form Around “True” Social Networks
3. Privacy Issues Will Continue to Cause Problems
4. Social Networking Will Become Pervasive
5. Third-Party Tools Will Embed Social Features in Websites
6. Social Networking (like the web) Will Split Into Layers
7. Social Chaos Will Create New Business Opportunities
8. Facebook Will Not be the Only Dominant Player
There is also a presentation on this topic: