Every day, I seem to receive at least one email or invitation to a new “social network” of sorts – and just about every one of these networks are networks unto themselves. That is to say: they’re community silos, not community expanders.

This is frustrating – and I don’t see the trend changing anytime soon. As someone who has always had a community (or network) of friends, both real and virtual, the last thing I want or need to do is split them up. I don’t need another proprietary chat room – I don’t need another proprietary commenting system.

So, each of these “Web 2.0” efforts wants to be the next success story – right? Why, then, do they not understand that the “Holy Grail” of social networking is in eliminating the walls between social networks? It’s not just about doing yet another mashup – it’s about bridging existing gaps.

Chat (active interactive) and Comments (static interactive) seem to be communication devices that some people already have (but not everyone, admittedly). Still, for those of us who already have solutions in place – why make yet another silo for us? Why not break down that barrier and allow us to use the tools we already have in our stable?

Dunno. I’m not down on the whole idea of social networking – but I am down on the idea of creating yet another social network to get to the people who are already in my social network. Gawd, that phrase means absolutely nothing to me anymore (I’ve said and heard it enough times).

I understand the validity of creating rich, live chatting experiences – but not at the expense of abandoning (read: ignoring) my existing IRC channels at irc.wyldryde.org. IRC has been around forever – imperfect, but widely adopted. The only reason Twitter “works” for me is that it allows me to receive updates via my IM network of choice. Imperfect, but already running on my desktop.

If you decide to integrate some kind of live chat within your service, at least let people choose to use their own instead of yours. If security is an issue, then you shouldn’t be doing chat in the first place. Live chat, of any kind, is only as strong as the room’s active members and moderators.

Stop creating community (communication) silos, please? Please?

[tags]chat, irc, live video, online community, social network[/tags]