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Om Malik asks if it’s time to rethink the whole concept of social networks:

Social networks are now cropping up like mushrooms after a monsoon, most of them slight variations on the MySpace1-Facebook2 model. Unfortunately that trend has pigeonholed the notion of social networks3 into a web-page paradigm, a virtual Rolodex that grows so big that it lacks context, and hence relevance.

It is time to rethink the whole notion of social networking, and start thinking of it as a feature for other online activities. Already, we see companies like Affinity Circles4 and Social Platform5 turning the “social network� into a commodity, by offering turnkey solutions. That’s just the start. It is time to start thinking beyond the web-page paradigm, and think of social networking as part of a larger “experience,� one that starts to blend the best of online and offline worlds.

I’ve looked at Affinity Circles and a few other whitebox social networking solutions. It’s amazing to see how advanced these solutions are compared to the dating-site-in-a-box options that people are using and often loudly complaining about here.

Getting launched is one thing, I want to know how the system will hold up under load, think 3 million profiles.

People tend to focus on the cheap and easy launch solution instead of where it will get you in 6-12 months, which is unfortunately when most popular social nets and dating sites need to do a complete overhaul of their infrastructure before they start losing members a la Friendster circa 2004.

The community aspects of social nets hanging off blogs got me thinking about MyBlogLog, which was recently acquired by Yahoo for $10 million. Finally, people can see who else is participating in blog comments. I use MyBlogLog to display how popular links are on this blog, check out the community features and meet others interested in similar topics.