As I mentioned in Social Networking for Sale, I believe social networking software/sites (SNS) will become pretty commoditized in 2007. It’s already pretty cheap & easy to get your own community site.
For example, there’s Scuttle, open source social bookmarking software. If you need social networking software (a la MySpace), you can find it for free/open source with Alicia (aka PHPizabi) or AroundMe or osDate or Yogurt or Dolphin.
There’s also a social networking addon for vBulletin called Zoints Local — plug it into your existing vBulletin site and bingo! instant “community.”
And of course there are “community” addons for CMS+ platforms such as phpNuke, Joomla (Community Builder), Drupal, etc. allowing you to truly build your own SNS. One could also do it by hand using Rails or some other rapid dev platform.
No matter which option you choose, you have a number of customization options, not all of which require a programmer.
The point of all those links is to reinforce the fact that there’s already a slew of cheap starting points for a social community site for would-be MySpace topplers. I figure there will eventually be a number of vertical social networks (VSNs) for gamers, hobbyists, flyfishermen, cheerleaders, etc. Maybe they’ll be within MySpace, or maybe third party sites. Better yet would be if VSNs could integrate with people’s existing social networks elsewhere on MySpace, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc, so that you don’t have to abandon your friends, profile, and blog posts to tap into a more targeted community. People would be more likely to join a new social network if they didn’t have to reupload all their photos, reanswer all their profile questions, etc.