Some random thoughts on p2p social networking

I’m beginning to wonder if p2p social networking software will ever take off for the general populace or even be much of a concern.

One of the reasons I feel that places like Myspace let people without the know-how or money easily setup their own web presence. While there were places like Geocities and Angelfire, they still required design work and weren’t painless to update.

On top of this, we have the ever increasing sharing of pictures and now videos. These aren’t easily shared via other p2p methods like email as each host can have wildly different message size constraints and there’s still the bandwidth variable for the receiving party. They probably don’t want to wait for a stretch for one video laden message to download while still needing to get the one with the cancer test results. A link is far simpler and faster to share, but this requires a host somewhere and brings us back to the know-how and money issue.

More still we have the address book nature of places like Facebook. As long as I have someone’s name and they use it, I can find them. While this can be done with services like Google, Bing and the ol’ phonebook, there is significant leg and guess work that to even guess if we have the correct person. Social networks take a lot of that guesswork out of this by sharing some details like a name, a picture and maybe some other auxiliary information like school and town.

One of the central problems I see is that p2p social networking is trying to replace the post office system that social networks like Facebook are. Or in another analogy, they are trying to get two fingers to touch with each being on a different person, drunk, blind-folded, starting from opposite sides of the planet, and not giving any information to either party on who they are trying to connect with or their location.