Today’s 23 Things review features the advantages of social network services. There are a couple of decent articles over at.. <cough>Wikipedia</cough> about social networks in philosophical terms (“a social structure made up of individuals (or organizations)”) as well as about social network services (“an online service, platform, or site that focuses on [the] building…of social networks…among people”).
Like blogging, social network services are nothing new to me. I began using the earliest forms of these services available to the public, known as bulletin board systems (BBS), back in 1989 or 1990. Before the days of the world wide web, people would use their computers to dial into a small, usually local, network where you could post messages in a discussion board, chat live with other users, play text-based games, and swap files (pictures, sounds, etc.). From there, I eventually moved on to a more nationalized service, Prodigy, and later on AOL. Once I joined AOL, however, these networks were becoming increasingly dependent on the world wide web, and many Internet Service Providers were providing access to the WWW without having to subscribe to one of these commercial services.
Skip ahead to about 2005, when Facebook was becoming very popular with students (and was at first primarily available only to students). At that time, you could only join Facebook via an invitation from an existing member. I had a student send me an invitation, and I have been very active in Facebook ever since.
I find these social networking services to be a very convenient way to stay connected with people who are not necessarily within my immediate circle of friends. These services don’t have as much of an impact on my closest relationships, but they have a profound impact on my extended network of family, friends, and colleagues.
I currently use many of these social network services, and if you’d like to connect with me, I have created a personal launch page at http://about.me/ryancorcoran . These launch pages basically provide you with a singular place to keep links to all of your social network pages and give people an easy way to connect with you. In addition to my Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn pages, it also has links to two of my blogs (including this one!) and my one published work, which is self-published through Lulu.com, a digital printing service.