What If Social Networks Just Aren’t Profitable?

What if we all realized that social networks are a societal good (at least as good as a local alt [newspaper] weekly) but not necessarily good businesses? We’re all desperately hoping that Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr will figure out the secret ingredient that turns a large-scale community of free members into a cash machine. What if we’re all just waiting for the impossible? Like a business that turns water into gold? We’ve got lots of water, we just need to figure out the gold part…

Certainly over the past year we’ve seen increasingly intrusive — read: desperate — attempts to square this circle.