The first social network to rise to any degree of prominence was [Friendster](http://www.friendster.com/). Friendster allows you to punch in a bunch of your interests, link to other friends, pull in your blog posts, share photos, etc.
Then came [Orkut](http://www.orkut.com). Orkut grew quickly because of it’s exclusive “you have to be invited in” rules, but then quickly burned out as everyone went to [MySpace](http://www.myspace.com/). MySpace was – and is – ugly as sin, horribly non-functional, and generally is a contradiction of all that had gone to move the web forward since its inception. This, somehow, made it immensely popular.
Since MySpace has become the unstoppable force in the “this is all of who I am” space, recent social networks have forced you to specialize. Music users can plug in to [lastfm](http://last.fm) or [iLike](http://www.ilike.com]; people looking for business connections can network on [LinkedIn](http://www.linkedin.com/). [Flickr](http://www.flickr.com/) can act as a glorified social network for photographers. And so on.
Meanwhile, activity-based social networks sprang up. [Dodgeball](http://www.dodgeball.com/) broadcasts your location to your friends. [Upcoming](http://www.upcoming.org/) lets you plan events – Evite on steroids.
The many splinter social networks are interesting, because each one limits your scope. I can’t find my friends who aren’t into digital photography on Flickr. I’m not going to link up with people outside of NYC on Dodgeball. Each network becomes more insular, more specialized.
And so now we reach [Twitter](http://www.twitter.com/). Twitter is, as best I can tell, the exact reverse of the original sorts of social networks – your profile is meager, your interests unimportant. Twitter allows you to bomb your friends with updates about what you’re doing in 145 character or less – like Dodgeball, only without the locations. Or neighborhood detection.
I’ve been using it a bit more today after signing up last month – and while Twitterific is a nice client, I’m still trying to get the appeal. It’s certainly an interesting sort of party-line chat that doesn’t require you to be constantly signed in, but there’s something I’m not quite catching. Maybe it’s because after two years on Dodgeball, I know that most people aren’t using the chat functions.
My profiles for all the sites mentioned above: [Friendster](http://www.friendster.com/dandickinson) – [MySpace](http://myspace.com/remydwd) – [last.fm](http://last.fm/user/remydwd) – [iLike](http://ilike.com/user/Dan_D2) – [LinkedIn](http://www.linkedin.com/in/remydwd) � [Flickr](http://flickr.com/people/remydwd) � [Dodgeball](http://www.dodgeball.com/user?uid=16789) � [Upcoming](http://upcoming.org/user/384/) � [Twitter](http://twitter.com/Remy)