social networking

a.k.a. user-generated content, user-created content, social media, live Web, Web 2.0, pervasive awareness

What is social networking? It is an online community of people who are socializing with each other via a particular Web site or social utility program. On an individual level, it is the practice of growing the number of one's business and/or social contacts by connecting and networking with other people. Most of the social networks on the Web are public, allowing anyone to join. 

Social networking websites offer their users an online community to share and explore common interests and activities. They provide a variety of ways for users to interact: through posts, chat, direct messaging, email, video, voice chat, file-sharing, blogging, forums, discussion groups, and applications.

According to Danah Boyd, leading authority on social networking at U.C. Berkeley, the true definition of a "social network site" is that it contains profiles, semi-persistent public commentary on the profile, and a traversable publicly articulated social network displayed in relation to the profile. 

A "profile" includes a handle, information about that person, a photograph, and information about last login. Profiles have unique URLs that can be visited directly. "Semi-persistent public comments" means participants can leave comments (or testimonials, guestbook messages, etc.) on others' profiles for everyone to see. Users of social networks value these features because comments and profiles are viewed as individuals' self-expression and because it shows what others say about the individual. "Traversable publicly articulated social network" means participants have the ability to list other profiles as "friends" or "contacts." The articulated social network is displayed on an individual's profile for all users to view. Each node contains a link to other profiles so that individuals can traverse the network through friends of friends.

Social networking is also referred to by online marketers and researchers as "pervasive awareness" because they can "watch what people are saying and doing." But free user be warned, these sites will harvest your data so keep updating your privacy settings.

Here's a list of some popular social networking sites:

Historical perspective: MySpace was founded in August 2003 by Chris DeWolfe and Tom Anderson and it took the world by storm. By July 2005, Rupert Murdoch and News Corp. purchased MySpace for $580 million; in June 2006 MySpace surpassed Google as the most visited website in the US; and in September 2006 the 100 millionth account was created. Facebook emerged as the leading competitor in 2010 and suddenly MySpace was all but forgotten.

NetLingo Classification: Online Jargon