Are Social Networks worth spending time?

Web 2.0 is the buzzword of the moment (well, one of the buzzwords). Social networks are one of the forms of Web 2.0 to which most importance is attached. There are many forms of social networking, like Facebook, which is basically a friends' gathering, or Linkedin, which is more “professional”, or Plaxo, which is more a tool to gather and share information from a variety of sources connected to any participant. There are more specialistic social networks, like Dopplr, which connects people through sharing travel information (basically, your whereabouts are showed to your network, so if you are in a given area you can meet with other people there). Or photo sharing facilities with networking, like Flickr (by Yahoo) or Picasa (by Google).

I have received invitations from many to join many, many others, but I find that following more than two or three is deadly time-consuming. So now I am basically using LinkedIn, Plaxo and Picasa. I seldom pop up on Dopplr and have relinquished other networks I have been in. LinkedIn is more popular and provides good links with people (I have well passed 100 connections), Plaxo has facilities such as updating your address book with the information provided by the people, so that you are always up to the last address change, and you also receive good birthday reminders (killer features to me). And, well, Picasa is useful for an amateur photographer like me.

I really wonder about other people's take on this. Do you share my views, have suggestions, would like to provide more advice? Please write me at social networks@ (delete the two spaces). I will stay up for a few months, just to collect ideas, if you oblige. If you indicate your willingness to do so, I could publish the most interesting comments with or without your name.

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