Back in 2003, one of my satire articles in The Slant was about a Friendster spin-off called Sexter, a kind of sexual social networking site. A bit later, a Worcester, MA nightlife site came up with the amusing whobangedwho.com. So far these sites have just been parodies, but BoingBoing reports that the sex.com domain has been purchased for $14 million dollars by a Web development company promising to put a social networking service there, among other things.
The actual news reports make it sound less like a social networking site along the lines of Friendster and more like an adult content portal that includes a personals feature, so the Sexter idea will probably remain pure fiction. But the story behind the contested ownership of sex.com is really very interesting, as described in this 2003 article from Wired.
On a more serious note, this weekend I joined the social networking site LinkedIn. It’s oriented toward business contacts, keeping the emphasis on professional information and forgoing user photographs or relationship status. Unlike other networking sites, it seems capable of providing useful information for jobs and business deals once you’re connected. I like to think I’m ahead of the curve on these things, but I was surprised to find lots of people I know were already members.
The site is easy to navigate, but the need to know the email address a person signed up with in order to connect with them can make finding all of one’s initial contacts a little clunky. When you don’t know this information, you have to go through a more time consuming introduction process through an already established mutual contact or upgrade to a paid account to send a message directly. But this is a small complaint about a site that otherwise looks very good so far. If you join, find me there with the address firstname.lastname@example.org.