Inspired by this fantastic list of every book Art Garfunkel has ever read (via Dave, like 6 months ago), I’ve been looking for a web-based tool to help document my movie watching. You know–keep track of titles, a star rating, maybe even a short review if I have something coherent to say.
Unfortunately, in the age of Myspace, I’m hardpressed to find any useful services that don’t require you to become part of some bullshit “community” while using them. Don’t get me wrong, I think the idea of a web-based social network is brilliant; I just don’t see why the world needs any more of them. Myspace is good. Facebook is even better. So why do I need a whole new set of relationships–of friends, neighbors, messages, comments, photo albums and blogs? I don’t want to have to log into Last.fm for my “music friends”, Flixster for my “movie friends” and LibraryThing for my “book friends”–I want specialized services that integrate with the social networks that I already have in place. And I want to be able to pick up my info and move it to another framework if I feel like it (a feature that’s rare in web apps or services).
Though I think Flixster.com is an ugly piece if junk, I have to applaud them for integrating with Facebook. I never visit Flixster’s actual site, I just use the Facebook plugin to keep track of the movies I watch, and to share info with folks I’m already “friends” with. I’m not forced to start from scratch, make a cute “profile” or join various groups; that’s what Facebook is for.
But I’m still confused as to why neither Flixster nor Spout.com have fully integrated with Netflix yet. Netflix.com offers my “queue”, my “movies at home” and my “recent rental activity” as feeds, so it’d be REALLY easy to line these movies up on my homepage for review (Spout lets you “link” your Netflix queue, but I can’t for the life of me figure out where it actually appears in your profile or on the site). It seems like such an obvious idea, doesn’t it?
I guess my point is that despite their recent popularity, I think “niche” social networks are a sad, confused stab at imitating Myspace’s financial success, and in a couple years there’ll be so many “niches” that the pendulum will swing toward consolidation–one or two popular social utility frameworks with a set of specialized plugins. And the companies that drop the “community” garbage in favor of useful features will come out on top.