I have been using social networks for some time now, LinkedIn, Plaxo, ecademy and facebook is where you can find me. As I have invested a considerable amount of time, it is relevant to consider if they are worth the time and effort.
LinkedIn, Plaxo and ecademy are at a considerable disadvantage because in order to get the full functionality, you have to spend money. It then becomes relevant to understand the potential benefits for these networks. All three provide basic functionality that is for free and as there is no real overlap yet, I maintain a presence there.
Facebook is what I have been looking at lately. What it has right is that it tries to connect people, the groups they belong to, the causes they champion and the organisations they are associated with. When you combine it with the potential to program extra functionality for facebook, you get a more compelling package then its competition.
It is however lacking in other ways. For one the way it has its security is minimal. I do not mind to tell the world that I am on facebook, but I prefer that only friends and friends of friends can see who my friends are. I would happily leave Plaxo behind when facebook had the same security for sharing personal and work information.
The one thing all the social networks have in common is that they are proprietary. To make their functionality useful to me, I have to trust it with my information. I do however not know if the implementation of their security can be trusted. Were they to use something like A-Select I would feel more comfortable because it would allow enough eye balls to vouch for the authentication process. Even though it would be a great step forward, it would be better if all the software were Open / Free software. Authentication is one aspect, the authorisation within the application itself can still make my data insecure.
Who to trust, why to trust ...