The Economist on Social Networks
"Everywhere And Nowhere.
Social networking will become a ubiquitous feature of online life. That does not mean it is a business.
[...] The correct half is that a next big thing—web-mail then, social networking now—can indeed quickly become something that consumers expect from their favourite web portal. The non sequitur is to assume that the new service will be a revenue-generating business in its own right.
[...] The opening of social networks may now accelerate thanks to that older next big thing, web-mail. As a technology, mail has come to seem rather old-fashioned. But Google, Yahoo!, Microsoft and other firms are now discovering that they may already have the ideal infrastructure for social networking in the form of the address books, in-boxes and calendars of their users. “E-mail in the wider sense is the most important social network,” says David Ascher, who manages Thunderbird.