Analyst: Consumerism to blend with social networks in 2008

Where traditional Web sites provide content to visitors, social networking sites tend to offer sets of tools that allow "the consumers to become the content," a lead Parks Associates analyst told BetaNews this afternoon.

In a sweeping new report, Parks Associates points to a number of key consumer technology trends to look for in 2008, including an ever widening influence of social networking sites on the World Wide Web. These newer "social media" are rather different from conventional Web sites, notes John Barrett, Parks Associates' director of research.

On the Flickr service, for example, consumers can contribute, rate, and tag photos. On YouTube, consumers can upload their own videos.

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"MySpace is another type of social networking site. Once you sign up for an account, you can talk about your favorite books, what you like to eat -- whatever you want, really," Barrett told BetaNews.

"In 2008, you'll see consumers playing an increasingly strong role in these social networking sites on the Web. You'll also see more opening up of these sites," he predicted.

Facebook is at the leading edge of the trend toward greater openness among social networking sites, according to Barrett. "Facebook has been getting a fairly strong amount of traction in the marketplace by opening itself up to developers," he observed. "[Other] sites might [now] shift their emphasis, too - by showing [visitors how] to create applications and other types of new content."

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