If you've used any of these sites or know of any that I didn't mention, please post your comments!
Not unlike the more generalized social rating site Digg, Design Float aims to help the design community share websites of interest with each other. It's especially useful if you're looking for specific topics such as photography. Digg has a more generalized audience.
The Outer Post is a nice and friendly site where you can create art portfolios featured in your profile. In most other ways its like a lot of other social networking sites. The community is uniquely artists and that changes the landscape of how you can really use the thing.
VIRB takes your interests and turns them into a more visual experience. The keyword and list oriented profiles of myspace and facebook are contrasted by VIRB's focus on sharing your generated content. So basically, you post up your photos, link up your blog, post your videos. There is a ton of art, design and photography featured to look at. The best thing about it for me is that it aggregates your rss feeds into your profile if you don't want to have to do everything a million times like on other sites.
DeviantArt has been around for a while. The community is large and the site is fully featured. It's a great place to just look at art and what people are doing. There's just so many people posting there that you can see tons of stuff. The site puts the artwork in the forefront. The profiles really showcase the art and you can just look at someones profile or go to the art with very few clicks. Some of the other sites take a bit more work to actually see a full sized image: clicking through to searchs, profiles, albums and then finally artwork. While the size of the community can make for problems of its own, I think its still a leader in this space.
The name might imply it or maybe not, but this site has a strict focus on building a community of designers and web developers. It's based on the Ning social network development platform and is built its user base around the existing Estitica Design Forum community.
Amateur Illustrator takes a the simple and effective approach of putting up art galleries and forums letting you immediately access great content. Like Digg, they've moved away from the importance of the profile. You can still see the artist's information and look at their forum posts and galleries. They let the art speak for the artist. It makes sense.
Sabet, "a community of hyper-talented folks", gives a feed approach similar to Facebook showing users recent activity and a flash slideshow of works. They also have videos and galleries. There is a lot of content types here meshed together
Hey why not. It's a community of pixel artists. It's funny that now any type of community platform is now considered social networking. It's strange how terminology suddenly defines something. The best of these new "social networks" are the ones who are less concerned with what they are and more keyed into what they're trying to do. This site does just that. They love pixel art and want to bring together its creators. They showcase the sites best content and make it interesting even to people who didn't know this stuff is cool.
While it's in beta right now, it's worth a mention. Urbanseeder is truly social networking. It allows you to connect with people you've met in a sandboxed environment. It's a pretty creative concept, you'll have to look at it and
What makes this site interesting is that it connects artists with curators, collectors and others involved in the arts. They also have a blog of interviews with artists on various levels.
Artlog aggregates art news, an event and exhibit log, news, museum information and a social layer into what turns out to be a promising product. The focus on the real world of art brings it above the self-love of user-generated profiles. Although they have those too, of course
Users like yourself can rate stories using Digg's interface. The ones which are rated highest end up more visible. It's a simple concept integrated with social features such as profiles and comments. The ease of participation makes it a pretty good place to start.