In the beginning, there was Friendster, which captivated the early Web’ites before it was smitten by slow servers and exiled to the Far East. And then a man called Hoffman begat LinkedIn, saying, “This name shall comfort professionals who want to post their résumés online,” and Wall Street did idolize it. And then Myspace lived for two thousand and five hundred days and worshiped flashy ads and was subsumed by News Corp., which the LORD hath cursed. And Facebook emerged from the land of Harvard and forsook the flashy ads for smaller ones and welcomed vast multitudes of the peoples of the world. And it was good.
Now there’s a new figure in the genesis of online social networking, Google+. Sprung from the loins of the mighty search giant, Google+ is something unusual for Chief Executive Officer Larry Page and his minions: a social network off to a promising start. The service includes a way for Web users to share with limited groups of friends, without requiring that they blast their updates to awkwardly large swaths of distant acquaintances or the entire Web. In the process, Google+ has won the devotion of some of Silicon Valley’s earliest adopters and toughest critics, and may finally allow Google to humanize its utilitarian suite of products and confront its archrival, Facebook. “This could scarcely have gone better,” says Bradley Horowitz, a vice-president of products at Google and one of the key architects of the new site. “These are the first steps of a race we intend to be in for many years.”