Jeeves, what's the next big thing in online social networking?

According to Tickle CEO James Currier, “Search is a natural way for online social networking to move forward”.

Excuse me?!? Am I missing something here? Please explain.

“The advent of Web search in the 1990’s taught us to query text data pages instead of talking with each other. Tickle people search brings online search full circle, back to letting us find the right people to talk to.”

OK. And that’s different from all the other online social networking sites how exactly?

To articulate the value proposition to users, Tickle invoked the example of a woman who is in the market for a home. By querying “mortgage” on the search engine, she turns up a list of her first and second-degree Tickle network friends with expertise in mortgages. Any of these she can then contact directly. A friend-of-a-friend mortgage broker may actually earn business this way, Tickle declared.

Wow! You mean it works just like Ryze, LinkedIn, Tribe, Ecademy, OpenBC, and just about every other social networking site out there (except, ironically, Orkut)? I suppose the ability to mix people results and web results is novel, but I’m not sure how valuable it is.

A useful corollary to this approach is the ability to serve keyword-based ads matched to search terms on the social network. When users run a search on Tickle, Google’s sponsored listings appear above AskJeeves’ algorithmic results.

Ah-hah! Now we’re getting to where the real value is (at least for Google, anyway). Although, I’d venture a guess that if you put Google AdWords on the search results page of one of the social networks, you’d accomplish the same thing.

When a visitor opts to search for people only, the sponsored listings are not displayed.

Doh! There went your value! So it only applies when it’s a web search?!?

Am I missing something? Somebody please tell me I’m missing something. Because if this is the next big thing in social networking, I may as well find a new career.