In Europe, the social network as digital friend [International Herald Tribune]

“When it comes to social networking Web sites, Europeans see things a little differently,” writes Thomas Crampton in the International Herald Tribune.

While the Continent’s innovators in business, social and mobile networking Web sites expect growing demand for their services, users will be looking for something like a digital cocktail party hostess.

“The ideal social network should work as a computer-enhanced friend that suggests people you ought to know,” said Lars Hinrichs, the founder of the Xing social network, based in Hamburg. “Networks are filled with people who would be connected to one another if they knew their own common interests.”

Founded in 2003 in Germany, Xing has a relatively complex interface that provides details of interests, experience and personal history.

The site has proved highly popular among businesspeople in many countries, particularly Germany, with a formula that Hinrichs said could cut into the space now occupied by headhunters.

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