Basic needs are "needstream" so mainstream doesn't necessarily need to include everyone
I commented that as everyone doesn't need the same thing then everyone's needstream is going to be different and no one service can encompass everyone.
Alexander says that the future focus will be on smaller, more localised social networks and I think Julians' quote goes a long way to explain why - the larger the audience the less relevant things will become. As I have said before, the global conversation will remain - and even grow - but there will be a bipolar existence on the web where people will "drift between the global and local conversations as needed".
Needs and wants
What do we actually "need" on the web? The answer is very little and many, by not even being connected, demonstrate that in personal terms we need nothing. Our jobs may dictate specific needs but once we clock off the internet fuels our wants rather than our needs.
Everyone wants something different - we are the sum of our life experience so have our own individual likes and tastes. These may intersect with those of others at various points but the differences between us are what makes life interesting.
Our wants on the web directly reflect our interests and some turn to social bookmarking services to explore those intersections with the wants of others - choose a table, pull up a chair and shout hit me! With only around 20% of the world actually connected and a mere fraction of those using a social bookmarking service the number of available intersections is going to be severely limited.
Social bookmarking is certainly not for the benefit of the content producer. It is designed to assist the consumer in their discovery process but I would argue that it fails. Is this due to incorrect categorisation or tagging, or simply because the social population simply isn't large enough?
Take yesterday's post about MooMag for example which was submitted to StumbleUpon. It's always nice when someone feels a post is worth sharing and it may drive some traffic your way but I have always maintained that this traffic is of incredibly poor quality - those people who hit your site but realise, once they get there, that it's not really of interest to them. They may not read the full post, will likely not follow any internal links, will not subscribe to your RSS feed and in all probability will never return unless they hit the Stumble button and are sent back at random.
The aim of any blogger is to convert the casual visitor to a repeat reader, subscriber or even evangelist but in the context of this post the true measure of conversion would be the number of click-throughs to the MooMag site.
Fortunately, I had been looking at the incoming and outgoing stats recorded by MyBlogLog so knew how many visitors had clicked on the outgoing link to MooMag prior to the post being Stumbled. In the period after there was only one click-through and there is no guarantee that this was from a StumbleUpon user. If we assume that this click was a StumbleUpon user then the conversion rate was only 1.2% - there were 83 visits from the stumbled share.
To me this illustrates that the already limited intersections we share with others are incredibly vague meaning that the percentage of truly useful intersections is going to be minute. We may share broad interests but they don't bear much fruit when we get down to specifics and makes we question the role of social bookmarking. If the conversion rates are so low when we have a reasonably limited set of people using these services what are they going to drop to once the adoption rates increase?
What do you gain from social bookmarking services either as a content producer or as a consumer?