Posted by Dan Griffin
Program Manager - WebSphere and SOA Academic Initiative
"Social Networking" is an interesting word....and one whose meaning changes quickly. I was recently reminded that social networking has existed for a thousands of years in some form or another. Whether it is face to face, written, phone, instant message, email, or twittering, they all fall under the umbrella of social networking and "collaboration."
Of course, in 2008, when someone says social networking, we typically think of something like Facebook, but I'm starting to see two trends from both my professional and personal life. First is the backlash against the use of these types of sites. More and more, I've heard people say "Just call me" and express frustration that things could have just been done easier and more quickly over the phone than through instant messaging, emailing, or texting.
Second, and perhaps more importantly, is the evolution of the "social networking" machine. Now that myspace has lost the top spot to facebook, how long will it Facebook's day in the sun last. I'd put my money on "not long." While facebook is great for connecting with long lost high school friends, the lack of separation between personal and professional, or between what persona/interests are shown to what groups has led the way for sites like Ning. With Ning, anyone can create a social network, and in literally 30 seconds have it ready to invite other members. I spent a few hours recently putting bells and whistles on a Ning community and was amazed at the capabilities. Even more so when I started plugging in scripts from around the web. The nice thing about Ning is that depending on the community, you can choose what pictures and what information is shown about you. For example, if you are joining a community related to your professional life, you probably don't want to make those pictures from last year's beach party available for anyone to peruse. :-)
As we wrap up 2008, it will be interesting to see which direction Social Networking moves. My prediction -- "create your own community" sites like Ning will soon join or replace Facebook at the top of the heap.
The evolution of social media