Trend: Exclusive social networking

Business Week calls them "online country clubs," and they're becoming a trend: not just niche social-networking sites, but exclusive niche sites. "Membership in these networks, not unlike the exclusive country clubs where the rich and powerful hobnob, is carefully guarded," Business Week says. For example, at one such site, aSW (short for aSmallWorld), "only a subset of established members have the power to invite new users to join." Going from 500 to 260,000 users in its 3.5 years, aSW's growth doesn't come close to MySpace's, but of course "big is bad" with these sites. In its story about this, the New York Times put aSW's registered-user figure at 150,000. The Independent describes another one to launch next month, Diamond Lounge, which "aims to do for the world of Internet networks what Studio 54 did for New York nightlife, and the identity of members is being kept strictly secret in order to maintain an aura of glamorous mystery." Its proprietor says 30,000 will be its max membership. Another new Web 2.0 trend: social networking for baby boomers. As Robin Wolaner, founder of a new boomer site called (and former founder of Parenting magazine), told the New York Times, who wants to hang out at the AARP Web site? One thing's for sure, our teens would certainly prefer it if we hung out at TeeBeeDee or trying to do so at aSW than at Facebook!

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