Lovie, Let's Join An Internet Country Club

Tired of all the riff-raff you encounter on Facebook?  Wondering if you're going to be questioned  by the police about  the age of your MySpace friends? Leaving nasty comments in blogs no-one reads except people who wash their hands 150 times a day and have 11 cats? Well, maybe it's time for you to an exclusive online network like aSmallWorld, and leave all those losers behind. That is, if they'll have you.

Membership in these networks, not unlike the exclusive country clubs where the rich and powerful hobnob, is carefully guarded. At aSW, only a subset of established members have the power to invite new users to join. In developing the site, founder Erik Wachtmeister rejected the prevailing Web 2.0 business model of attracting large audiences so you can sell ads to big brands. Instead, he confines membership to the relatively small group of people who travel in the same elite, often moneyed, social circles. "The site is not very valuable if it is polluted by people you don't know," says Wachtmeister. His goal was "to create a private place where people could be much more forthcoming with information."

Critics are split into two camps: Some call aSW dreadfully elitist, while others say it's not exclusive enough. Nonmembers have nicknamed the site "Snobster," arguing that its invitation-only policy contradicts the premise of open communications upon which the Web was built. Then there are those on the inside who complain that, in an effort to become profitable, aSW is accepting less "valuable" members.

It sounds suspiciously like a club for the people who turned their lights off and pretended not to be home on Halloween. Seems sort of unfriendly. Maybe instead they could dress like a furry and go to conventions and get their picture taken with a Wookiie, Batman, Indiana Jones, and an overweight girl in Leia's metal bikini. You know, like normal people do.
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