It's a social world out there.

The Real Powerhouses of Social Networking

Posted on: November 8, 2009

In 1997 a social networking site called Six Degrees was launched, it was the beginning of a revolution in the social lives of millions of people all over the world.  Six Degrees which was active until 2001 was named after the common six degrees of separation concept. In 2007 this site was the first of its kind but was shortly followed by the coming and going of many similar social networking sites.

After Six Degrees introduction the social networking phenomenon began to take off, however, it did not happen overnights. 1997 was a time before the introduction of any of the powerhouses of social networking sites. Users will still a more technically savvy group, early adopters of the internet were beginning to look at social networking sites, but were still wondering, why?  This maybe the main reason for the slow growth for social networking early on, people were unsure of why they would want and/need to use these sites. It was five years before the introduction of Friendster, one of the largest building blocks in social networking and media.

Friendster, an australian housed social networking site was founded by a computer programmer in 2002 is still active today.  The site has over 90 million registered users who are able to browse friends profiles and become fans of almost anything. In the next two years many sites came on the scene trying to grab a piece of the growing social networking pie, however two have been able to maintain a large share of social networking users, these two, you know them – Facebook and Myspace.  These sites have been able to keep users coming back since 2003, and they don’t seem to be planning on slowing down. Hundreds of users are still being added daily as the baby boomers population begins to understand and adopt the benefits of social media and networking.  D. Boyd and N. Ellison explain the attraction and long-term appeal of social networking in their essay, Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship:

“What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between “latent ties” (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily “networking” or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network.” (1)”

This excerpt does a  great job of explaining why we love social networking, as well as why it doesn’t get old.  In 2004 many may have assumed social media was a fad, that we would move on. However, today in 2009 we are more involved in social media than ever before. It doesn’t get old because it is constantly changing. Ee are adding friends, looking at photos, video and status updates that let us know the latest from close friends living across the country, they push us the news from all over the world before television or radio knows news is breaking. Social media is a new way of life, and a large part of this life lies with the real powerhouses of social media.

1) Boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

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