Visual Map of the Social Networking Landscape

Dave Pollard has put together an excellent visual map of the social networking landscape. He breaks it down into eight major objectives people are trying to accomplish with social networking tools:

  1. Finding people (discovering, rediscovering, or locating them)
  2. Building directories, network maps and social networks
  3. Inviting people to join your networks
  4. Managing access to your networks (“permissioning”)
  5. Connecting with people in your networks (using various media)
  6. Managing relationships across media (e.g. making the jarring transition from e-mail or weblog-based relationships to voice-to-voice or face-to-face)
  7. Collaborating with people in your networks, and
  8. Content sharing with people in your networks (and other learning, knowledge-finding and knowledge-sharing functionalities that are arguably the domain of Knowledge Management rather than Social Networking)

Of course, most sites offer some combination of these and don’t easily fall into a single category. He goes on to look at the combination of these that the major types of tools and some of the most popular sites provide, plus his list of the ten biggest problems with most existing social software tools. Great reading.

If you’re looking for categorized lists of social networking sites, he mentions Judith Meskill’s excellent SNA Meta List, but unfortunately overlooks our Directory of Online Network / Social Software Companies, which is wiki-based and allows contributions and edits by anyone who’s interested in helping us keep it up-to-date.