A quick study: Online Social Networks

These sites can facilitate connections in your industry or around the world.

Online social networks are Web sites that enable people to create a network of connections to other individuals. Through the Internet communities that make up social networks, people can contact others they would like to know for personal or professional reasons but whom they might otherwise be unlikely to meet.

Social networks (most often hosted on Web sites) allow people to communicate with others whom they may or may not know. They include dating sites, professional sites, chat rooms, community sites and bulletin boards, but not venues whose primary purposes are nonsocial, such as job search sites. What makes online social networking unique is the ability to define one's own social network and interact in new ways. Indeed, users on many of these sites aren't looking to meet new people but to communicate with others who are already part of their social networks.

Early Connections

While many early Internet mechanisms (such as Usenet bulletin boards) offered a form of social networking, the first site specifically for networking might have been Classmates.com. Founded in 1995, Classmates.com fosters relationships based on high school and college affiliations. Next, in 1997, came SixDegrees.com, where users can seek connections based on any existing relationships.

The biggest impetus for social networking, however, was the rapid growth of blogging. Blogs began as online diaries, but today the blogosphere is a popular worldwide medium for public and private discourse, citizen journalism and political action.

After blogs came more complex sites designed specifically to help people communicate and meet new friends or colleagues. Friendster, MySpace and Facebook have had remarkable success in the personal realm. Sites like LinkedIn and Ryze facilitate professional connections.

Today, online social networking happens through a variety of mechanisms: dedicated personal and professional networks, online multiplayer games, services focused on specific goals such as dating or matchmaking, and even graphical cyberworlds. According to a national survey by the Pew Internet & American Life Project, 55% of all online US teens use social networking sites.

How They Work

Most social networking sites have users create an individual profile within the system that defines them or expresses their personality. Most sites let users upload photos, and some allow other multimedia content.

Users typically identify friends already in the system. The term friends means others with whom a user has or would like to have some type of relationship. Some sites require these relationships to be OK'd by the other person and some don't. Profiles may be public and accessible by anyone or restricted to designated friends.

Most social networking sites display a list of the person's friends, with links, so that viewers can visit the friends on the list - and then, in turn, visit the people on the friends' lists of friends. An individual may create multiple online identities or personae; user data is rarely verified or checked.

Most social networking sites allow users to leave messages or comments on their friends' pages or profiles. Comments are usually displayed in reverse chronological order, open to anyone who can view the profile. Visitors can also leave private messages.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Russell Kay

Computerworld
Show Comments

Brand Post

Most Popular Reviews

Latest Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Emily Tyson

MSI GE63 Raider

If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

Laura Johnston

MSI GS65 Stealth Thin

If you can afford the price tag, it is well worth the money. It out performs any other laptop I have tried for gaming, and the transportable design and incredible display also make it ideal for work.

Andrew Teoh

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

Touch screen visibility and operation was great and easy to navigate. Each menu and sub-menu was in an understandable order and category

Louise Coady

Brother MFC-L9570CDW Multifunction Printer

The printer was convenient, produced clear and vibrant images and was very easy to use

Edwina Hargreaves

WD My Cloud Home

I would recommend this device for families and small businesses who want one safe place to store all their important digital content and a way to easily share it with friends, family, business partners, or customers.

Walid Mikhael

Brother QL-820NWB Professional Label Printer

It’s easy to set up, it’s compact and quiet when printing and to top if off, the print quality is excellent. This is hands down the best printer I’ve used for printing labels.

Featured Content

Product Launch Showcase

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?