Thanks to Wes Felter and Doc Searls for the pointers to MOSIS and ChipX.
I've learned that I've got a lot to learn. The investment to get a design cast is going to be at least $1500 for the raw manufacturing of the smallest die size available. I haven't even begun to consider the design tools, and the time to learn them. It's a formidable task, but one that I'm sure I can do, eventually.
Since that end of the process is such a big investment in terms of time, effort, and % of my life, I'm going to focus more on the big picture, and emulate the heck out of my concepts first. Software simulation is the number one priority.
Meanwhile, on the social network side, I'm going to see options are available to do a GPL type license with a patent. I'm expecting to dump at least $10,000 and 1000 hours into this project at a bare minimum, so I want everyone to get some return on my investment. (I'm not really a money motivated person)
So, now the focus moves to a software simulation that I can share with others, work out concepts, and get some virtual benchmarks against. I'm going to assume perfect hardware for the moment, because it's easiest to write. 8)