Ping

The ghost of social networks past

Friendster, Bebo, Tribe, Vox—we’ve missed you of late. As today is supposed to mark the end of the world, the virtual social worlds of years past have been much on our mind. 

Where have they gone? Why did they go? Do we even care?

It’s hard to answer those questions without first marveling at what now falls under “social.” A decade ago, blogs and sites like Friends Reunited or Classmates.com were peripheral to our daily digital lives. Today online sociability is the norm: We turn to Yelp reviews when deciding about a restaurant or, when that fails, post on our Facebook walls—“Hey, where can I find good Thai in Philly?” We laugh at cat videos all day long, and we add our IMHO to a long list of responses to ire-inducing blog posts.

Ready for YourName@Facebook.com?

privacySo email’s becoming obsolete, huh?

Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg said as much last June. And of course, everyone knows younger users don’t even use email anymore. (Let’s just ignore the fact that you can’t open a Facebook account without an email address).

Now, Facebook’s set to announce Project Titan on Monday, which is almost universally expected to be an unveiling of Facebook’s “Gmail killer” email service.