Marc Canter says (or at least implies) that a social network with 5 people in it isn’t a real social network. I couldn’t disagree more.
There are 4 people in my immediate family, and let me tell you, there is no more social network out there.
What defines a social network? Number of hits? Ad revenue? If you ask me, the tool doesn’t define the social network – the community does. And I believe communities come in all sizes and shapes. I see nothing wrong with a small group of people wishing to collaborate in the cloud – it sounds a heck of a lot nicer than Facebook, truth be told.
My favorite social networks are not the monster amalgamations of strangers that form the current la-dee-da Web 2.0 acquisition market. My favorite social networks are kind of like the corner bar — where everybody knows your name (or at least your nick) and where you have a history that means something to others, while simultaneously caring about the history others have built with you. Why did Flickr users grieve when they lost their original identifiers? Because it was a little piece of their community history, taken away, diluted into a homogenized mix by a service with altered goals.
Saying a social network isn’t successful or shouldn’t be counted because it is small is like only counting a restaurant as successful if it has a franchise attached – who cares about the corner cafe, when you could have a Burger King, right?
I care. I suspect a lot of other folks care too.