Citizen Media Watch

december 12th, 2006

2006 named the year of the social network

Posted by Lotta Holmstrom

It’s getting near the end of the year, and December is always a good time to look back and reflect on the goings on of the past 12 months. Richard MacManus at the Read/WriteWeb blog has done just that, and has come up with a long list of technologies that have shaped the web this year. More on my own look on 2006 later, but I’d like to focus on MacManus’ first point.

Undoubtedly 2006 has been the year of the social network. MySpace, YouTube, Facebook have been the three outstanding success stories – but also impressive was Bebo (in the UK particularly) and there was strong growth in existing web 2.0 networks like Flickr and del.icio.us.

I see Aftonbladet’s blog community as largely a social networking site. In a way the bloggers there have redefined blogging, creating a community within the blogosphere. One clear sign of this is that the bloggers reply to comments to their post not as another comment to that post, but as a comment to a post in the blog of the person who commented. Very confusing for an oldtimer like myself.

This is for good and bad. A sense of community is good if it brings people together and make them feel at home. If it becomes too closed it runs a risk of being marginalized.

But there are smaller spheres in the blogosphere in general too. At a meeting of bloggers a couple of weeks ago, we discussed the different spheres in the bigger blogosphere. I think it was Lotten who concluded that there are different groupings that read eachothers’ blogs, but once you venture outside these groupings you find that there are other groups, interlinked, who seem to know eachother just as well as the bloggers in your own sphere do.

What needs to be added if we are to name 2006 the year of the social network, though, is that social networks no longer grows from people’s interest to network in general. The failure of Orkut (atleast in the US and Europe) and in a way Friendster makes this clear.
Rather they grow from shared interests and from the use of a valuable service. This is why Flickr and del.icio.us are so successful. Without the community many people would still use these services, but it’s the community that bring them their real value.
So more than networking services, I think this is the year of social media, and useful web services based on web2.0 technologies.


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