3rd generation of social-networking software

Ok, there's a new buzzword around here (Web2.0 spin): "third generation of social-networking systems" as attested by this TR article by Wade Roush. Instead than focusing on this '3rd' thing, the interesting point of this article is that it highlights the new important feature of social software: the ability to manipulate user-generated content:

"We've listened to our user base very closely, and we're also paying attention to what the competition is doing, and we've formulated a new strategy that is really about personal media," says Jeff Roberto, a marketing manager at Friendster. For example, users can now create blogs, control the appearance of their profiles, upload up to 50 photos, watch slide shows of the photos most recently uploaded by their friends, post classified ads that link back to their profiles, and share audio and video files stored on their PCs using peer-to-peer technology provided by Grouper.

"The uptake we've seen has been incredible," Friendster CEO Taek Kwon said in October, about a month after the new features were introduced. "We've seen substantial increases in media being uploaded, profiles being customized, and people posting classifieds."

It also talks about a new player: iMeem who puts this idea into practice, using an interesting model:

iMeem hopes to attract members to by building all their activities not around a virtual representation of their social network, but around instant messaging technology.

That's exactly how iMeem works. A downloadable application similar to Yahoo Instant Messenger or MSN Messenger, iMeem is built around a buddy-list window that shows a user which of her friends are online. From that window, she can send and receive instant messages, join group chats, keep a blog, and share photos, videos, podcasts, playlists, and the like with other users using a peer-to-peer system related to the technology behind the original Napster.

Aggregating all of these functions into one program sounds like a recipe for information overload. But Caldwell believes that iMeem users will act as each others' media critics, perhaps bringing real effectiveness to the much-heralded idea of "collaborative filtering." "There's too much stuff out there," Caldwell says. "Too much data, too much content, too many blogs. Collaborative filtering is one of the most important things that's happened on the Web over the past couple of years. It's holding back the tide of overstimulation."

Why do I blog this? This 'iMeem' makes me think of a 1st generation social software called Huminity I tested long time ago mixed with this user-generated content trend. I like the 'collaborative filtering' feature but I am wondering how it would work.