Saturday, June 18, 2011

Online Social Networking History (Short Take)

Description: Social Networking Source: own wor...
It's kind of odd to me that so many people seem to assume that online social networking is somehow a new thing. I'll admit that the scope has grown over the years but the general concept has existed at least since the first email message was sent.

My first online experience was a brief stint on Compuserve when I was still in my early teens. Why was Compuserve interesting? Because there were other people who hung out there with similar interests to my own. In other words I could socialize and network.

Later I was a regular on BBS's and eventually ran my own board. I meet many of the people I "chatted" with in those BBS's and I'm still in touch with some of them.

Usenet was another early form of social networking. It allowed people from all over the planet to asynchronously chat about thousands of different topics that were organized hierarchically. Usenet was the first place I recall encountering SPAM. This was a sure sign that the barbarians were at the gates and it wasn't just techno savvy people who were socializing and networking on line.

The big difference between then and now is that almost everyone has a presence on Facebook. Does that make online social networking somehow new and exciting? Apparently the answer is yes given how much money LinkedIn made in their IPO.

Is there a lesson to be learned here? Maybe it's that innovation isn't always about doing something totally new. Sometimes there are things out there that have seen a lot of use that just need a little twist or refinement to be taken to the next level.

Image via Wikipedia
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