The Social Status - How we got here

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With the social web rebounding from its success and failures, niche sites began to spring up for singles, teens, Asians, and blacks. In 2002, Friendster launched and quickly gained attention by allowing friends of friends to connect. Although Friendster is still active today it was nearly trampled in 2004 due to server issues and member abandonment. Other sites such as LunarStorm, LiveJournal, and Cyworld proceeded to capture audiences, though none had taken the US like the big three that was LinkedIn, MySpace, and Facebook.

LinkedIn launched in 2003 as a professional's network. Its target market is business professionals 25-65, and has a substantial following for job seekers and recruiters' looking for work. The network is built on the idea that employers are more likely to hire from recommendations based on social connections. The site operates a premium service where members can pay to get more connections. Much like the other social sites, I have been slow to embrace the LinkedIn social niche. Call me slow, call me cynical, call me privacy conscious, but have found that it is just as difficult finding work online through social connections as it is submitting resumes in the real world.

In the spring of 2004, I was in my second year of college. I remember hearing a little buzz about a site called MySpace. I took a look, and didn't think much. Maybe it was because I was just focused on finishing school; maybe I was too busy to worry about "just another web site". Maybe it was the way MySpace was laid out. In my personal opinion it looked like a "hodge-podge" of twelve year olds who never left the house. My social circle was external anyway. I didn't need to logon to send them a message when I could give "em" a call and meet in person.

While MySpace was building an audience of teens, another site was beginning to take hold of the University Harvard. It wasn't until 2006 when I first became aware of Facebook. If I were a Harvard grad maybe I would have heard of it sooner, but like Andrew Weinreich said, blame it on bad timing. When facebook opened its doors to the public, suddenly every doddle-doer had to get their picture on the internet. Maybe the success was attuned to the mystique that facebook was an exclusive site. Maybe it was due to the simple interface, compared to MySpace. Maybe it took its cue from previous sites like classmates.com. For what ever reason facebook launched with fervor and still grips the public from molly home maker to social developers wanting to extend their reach.

It seems that social networks have been the main ambition since the dawn of the internet. It is only in the past couple of years that we have seen permanence in its growth. Niche sites are continuing to spring up and with development platforms such as Wordpress and Joomla, the power of social networking will advance, as close-nit communities and groups extend to digital communications.

Janis is affiliated with www.fusesix.com. Visit Janis and others for free access blogging and contributor membership.

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