While I don't entirely agree with the statement made in his subject line, he makes some very valid points. In my opinion, social network fatigue isn't exactly the problem being observed, it's having different parts of ones social network fragmented over a number of services. I'm guessing any slowdown in growth and adoption of new social networks would be accounted for by one being satisfied and sufficiently networked within a single or group of services.
Again, we must remember that people are the network, and if there is a slowdown in adoption of social networking services it's likely due to redundancy and lack of value added. People aren't actually getting tired of connecting, but it's difficult to connect with everyone in your social network when it's spread around a number of services. A similar effect can be observed within 'groups' within a social network. At a certain point, joining groups isn't about connecting within the group, but creating lists of interests and affiliations for people to see. What's going on in those groups merely becomes background noise.
I totally agree that services that cater to niche interests are the next big area. Looking at them as social networking sites in and of themselves is the wrong perspective however. The next generation of services looks to be features that can be added to other networks. These services add value and enable new kinds of interaction to already established networks in established services. What does this look like? Widgets, for one. I have a widget for this blog on my MySpace page, as well as a widget with my Last.fm music list. Totally different social networks, adding value to each other and connecting the people I know to other parts of my social identity online. This begins to decrease the friction I feel about my social network being fragmented over multiple web services.
- Social networks are made of people, not software. (Oft repeated, but it still needs some drilling in all our heads)
- Social networks are increasingly becoming just a standard feature for web services; web services that are increasingly being mashed up.
- Social network fatigue isn't the only thing going on here! I'm not tired of connecting, I'm tired of not being able to easily connect different parts of my social network together without having to ask them to change their habits and join my particular selection of services.