One thing I am starting to realize with 9rules is the value of social features on a site and how in the future more and more sites will want to adopt the features of social networks. Now I don’t think every site will want to create a full-fledged social network, but certain aspects of social networks are simply to appealing and useful to users to ignore.
Now don’t take any of these features as being new or thought up by social networks. They have been around long before web 2.0, but social networks helped make them famous. If your site involves an audience and discussion in any shape or form, what makes you think that the readers don’t want to know a little about each other or possibly interact without you being involved? So often people talk about forming a community around a site yet they don’t provide the tools to allow a community to grow.
A small minority are skilled enough to help a community grow through a site by actively participating in the discussions and making everyone feel as though they are part of a community. However, what about those large sites where you know nothing but the name online handle of a person? Maybe that’s how many people want to keep it because maintaining a profile on a social site/network can be a tedious task since we have so many. However, not providing the tools to help foster a community because we already have too much isn’t the way to look at things.
All of this starts to bring up the need for a decentralized social network where your central profile actually becomes useful and not just another place to tell friends to go. The web itself is a community and therefore any community you create should not be an isolated one, but a sub-community of the larger one. Of course many people already are thinking along these lines like USA Today, but you see what happens when social features get put in the hands of bad designers.
In the future your site will be more than just an entry and some comments. It will be your community where people socialize. It will truly become your house in the large web community where people stop by for tea (do people do that?) and then move onto the next house.