I have been looking around recently at social networkings systems, focusing on freely available ones, such as Elgg (which powers the rather lovely UnLtdWorld, and which has its proper v1.0 release out soon) and PeopleAggregator. The other option I had thought of would be to fashion something out of Drupal.
A post at Read/WriteWeb, however, has made me step back and think a little:
Platforms like WordPress and Movable Type democratized the process of self-publishing. With these tools, everyone could be a publisher and it didn’t require advanced technical expertise to do so. Now, the next revolution for publishing is to bring that same ease of creation to the process of building social networks. With Six Apart’s recent release of Movable Type 4.2, that revolution has begun. The new release provides DIY tools for building your own social networking platform which includes member profiles, forums, friending capabilities, rating of content, and more. WordPress isn’t too far behind, either – a new platform called BuddyPress, is being built on the WordPress core. Is this the future of blogging? Or is this the future of web publishing altogether?
I had been aware of BuddyPress for a while, but whilst I have noted Moveable Type’s development, I’ve never really go into that platform, for some reason. I think the Buddy/WordPress approach is sound, though, not building up the core functionality of the platform, but adding the social networking features as add-ons. If you want it, it’s there to use, otherwise you don’t need to be troubled with it.
BuddyPress is sadly some way from being production ready, so for now I’ll stick with the dedicated social network platforms. But in the future, rather than learn a new system, it will be a lot easier to use one I am familiar with to develop exactly what I need.
What are other folks’ views?