Cultivating Virtual Relationships in Social Networking

virtual relationships

The desire to feel connected is a basic human instinct. People do most things electronically, so why not nurture online relationships just as one would in person?

Associations, whether close or peripheral, allow people to form personal bonds, expand professional networks, and gain a general sense of connection and purpose. With advances in technology as well as changes in how and when business is conducted, the world has become increasingly interconnected. Continue reading

Tracing the Origins of Social Media Before the Advent of Facebook

social media before facebook

From its humble beginnings as a slow running personal bulletin board system, the social media revolution today is driving everything about news and information

If you think Social Media began with Facebook, or maybe MySpace, you should take a look at “The Complete History of Social Networking – CBBS to Twitter” which is online at Maclife.

CBBS? Yes, the creation of the first Computerized Bulletin Board System by two Chicago area geeks in 1978 — that’s when it all started, according to writer Michael Simon in the 2-webpage overview of the development of social networking and social media.

Between those days and the social media-driven world of 2010, Simon outlines many of the online developments that led from there to here. MySpace, Simon writes, “with deep pockets and a vast database” ultimately proved more successful than its predecessor, Friendster, “the first site that got everything right.” Friendster had come along in early 2003, a logical outgrowth of the short-lived (1997-2001) SixDegrees, which Simon calls “a bona fide precursor to the modern social networking sites.”

Social Media, Marketing, and Journalism Today

It’s a fascinating history, and one worth learning now that social media is, according to some experts, what’s driving news and information in 2010. The highly respected Nieman Reports, which is one of the most scholarly of journals studying the journalism profession, devoted its Fall 2009 issue to looking at the impact social media is having on journalism.

In an introduction to the issue, editor Melissa Ludtke notes that because social media is transforming “how people receive and share information”, it has become the job of the journalist to adapt to it.

However, Michael Simon, who wrote the MacLife article adds a cautionary note. “As a journalist, I certainly understand the place it has in the industry, but also realize the inherent danger therein. As more stock is placed on anonymous ‘sources’ from Twitter and the like, facts and integrity become increasingly blurred.” Simon made clear in an email that his true concern is less about the use of social media by “the casual observer, than the mainstream media outlets” that might be tempted to break news using only Facebook or Twitter as a sole news source.

Like journalists, marketers are another group of professionals who are analyzing the rise of social networks and studying ways to use them. E-business executive and author of the book Socialnomics, Erik Qualman, grandly calls social media “the biggest shift since the Industrial Revolution.” At his blog, also called Socialnomics, Qualman presents some jaw-dropping statistics about social media via YouTube videos:

  • If Facebook were a country it would be the fourth-largest nation on the planet, larger than all but China, India and the U.S.
  •  It took radio 38 years to reach 50 million listeners, television acquired 50 million viewers in 13 years, and the Internet reached 50 million users in 4 years
  • But more than 100 million people joined Facebook in less than nine months

The Bulletin Board System That Launched the Social Media Revolution

The computer bulletin boards of the late 1970’s might be as remotely related to what social networks have become as the Model T seems to the jet engine. The two Chicago computer hobbyists who built the first computer bulletin board system just wanted a way for their computers to share information about upcoming club meetings.

Ward Christensenn and Randy Suess had become friends through their hobby and the club – CACHE (Chicago Are Computer Hobbyists’ Exchange) – that supported it. They spent a couple of snowy weeks in January 1978 working on the software (Christensen) and the S-100 computer (Suess) to run it on.

Simon’s article discusses how other bulletin boards – each with a specific purpose – followed their lead and “began to pop up across a variety of platforms” and how gradually the scope of the boards changed, and they began to offer users the chance to establish unique online identities. The article is a trip back through recent history and a perfect demonstration of one thing leading to another, and eventually to real social change.