The W3C organized a Workshop on the Future of Social Networking, with a high level goal of bringing together the world experts on social networking design, management and operation in a neutral and objective environment where the social networking history to date could be examined and discussed, the risks and opportunities analyzed and the state of affairs accurately portrayed.
W3C Workshop on the Future of Social Networking [w3.org...]
Future of Social Networking Position Papers [w3.org...]
Eventually, Myspace and Facebook, no matter what fancy features they may add, will seem as archaic as Compuserve and Prodigy do now. The acceptance of a distributed social networking model is, as the internet has shown, an inevitability. All proprietary walled gardens have given way to distributed models, and social networking is the next frontier. And just like open, distributed protocols before it, social networking requires an open API in order to function properly. Since many walled gardens are based on amassing as many users as possible, in order to maximize ad revenue, adopting a distributed model goes against their business plan. Therefore, it's up to the open source community to come up with a real distributed social networking solution.
That's just one conclusion from one of many position papers. Very thought provoking to say the least.