Social Network for Geeks

Well, I may have to start up a social networking category. I ran across Shuzak, a “social network for geeks.” While the idea of niche-based social networks (or vertical social networks: VSNs) isn’t a stunner, it doesn’t seem very common yet. I’m sure we’ll see many more in the upcoming year.

Shuzak seems interesting, but at first blush it feels less like a targeted MySpace and more like a BBS with extended user profiles. Like a custom Zoints Local app. I do like the fact that they’re not just a generic social network, though … they have a few features specific to their theme (e.g. syntactical code highlighting, mathematical equation formatting). I could maybe see this taking off in a university, allowing professors to set up private, invitation-only “classroom social networks” to allow their students to collaborate on projects, exchange notes, ask questions, etc. There ya go, Shuzak, I just gave you your in. 🙂 Ofc, you probably already thought of that.

Anyhow, when one (like me) talks about a social network being a BBS with better profiles, is that a bad thing? How exactly does one define a social network? Is it features, e.g. profiles, groups, and buddy lists? Or is it purpose, e.g. exchange ideas, send messages, meet people? And if it’s purpose, does that purpose have to be intentional (e.g. using eHarmony to find dates), or can it be incidental, as with the countless friendships forged in MMORPGs? Could you argue that other, existing sites that are centered around communication (forums, social bookmarking sites that allow comments) are social networks, too? Mashable sure did by mentioning Digg as a techie social network.

I will say, though, that looking enough “like MySpace or Facebook” will probably make it easier to get funded.