Could WordPress be the next social network? The platform has a lot going for it:
- A blog is customizable to the max, making it a better tool for self-expression than, say, a Facebook profile.
- Plugins make sure blogs integrates with social content services like Delicious, Flickr, Twitter etc. Just like WordPress founder Matt Mullenweg wants.
- Combined with OpenID, your WordPress identity travels with you all over the web.
- With XFN-relation tags, you can make groups within your contacts. Think of it as a blogroll on steriods.
Chris Messina, co-founder of Citizen Agency, wrote an article about this idea in December 2007, creating a hype that reached its peak with a GigaOM post. I wrote a comment as well, saying the self-hosted WordPress edition was too complicated for ordinary users to install and use.
But now there’s BuddyPress…
The v0.2 BuddyPress release by WordPress adds an extended social layer to WordPress Multi-User installations. The collection of WordPress MU specific plugins offers the following list of features. Admins can select which one they want to install: Extended Profiles, Personal Blog, Private Messaging, Friends, Groups, The Wire, Status Updates, and Albums.
BuddyPress is only the first step towards the next social network
Although the BuddyPress development team thinks of their product as a community building tool, or niche social network, I can’t help thinking this is the first step towards the development of the next social network. If BuddyPress turns out to be an success, WordPress will probably develop a version for the self-hosted installations – making it possible for bloggers to connect with each other through a global WordPress platform.
WordPress.com already showing the first signs
This platform will probably be an extension of WordPress.com – which is already slowly turning into a social network. The “Possibly Related Articles” feature for example, connects blogs with each other by cross linking to relevant content. This clearly is a first step into the direction of a social publishing network.
With the integration of WordPress.com, the masses will be reached as well. It doesn’t have the technical barrier of the self-hosted of installation of WordPress. Therefor, millions of people are using WordPress.com as their publishing platform. You want numbers? Here’s a screenshot from WordPress.com:
Just imagine how gigantic the social network WordPress will be with this active community backing it. So you may not realize it yet, but if you’re a blogger using WordPress, you’re way ahead of the other bloggers. Together with millions of other WordPress bloggers, you’re building the social network of the future.
Update: Sarah Perez from ReadWriteWeb agrees: blog platforms will be the next social web.