Each network is made up of nodes, all connected together in cyberspace and to a central hub. It is rather like a map with roads leading to and from all the different nodes. The individual members who join the network are the ‘nodes’ interconnecting with one another for the purposes of shared interests, business or just for socialising.
Perhaps you wonder how social networking started. As soon as people grasped the fact that the world wide web brought to them almost any kind of information available, they began to wonder how to share this info with their friends. Where there is a need, there comes a solution. Social networking emerged because there was a need for it.
To start with, there were two kinds of online social linking. Chat rooms and exchanging and linking of email addresses. This was fairly satisfactory when it came to one on one communication, but it took organised, linked personal pages to open people to large numbers of contacts.
Possibly one of the biggest breakthroughs is the development of user profiles. This way people’s friends could recognise and link up with them, and new friends could find out a little about them and decide whether they would like to befriend them.
In past times, in small rural communities, or even city neighborhoods where people formed social groups, outlets for friendship and meeting new people were plenty. Social networking in those times were usually limited to the areas you could reasonably expect to be within reach.
Today, people are on the go. More and more people are finding themselves isolated amid the ever-changing and moving populations around us. How to keep in touch with friends and family far away? How to meet new people? How to share experiences and ideas?
Within the privacy of your own social networking page, you can see all the activities and news of all your network friends with the minimum of effort. Scroll up and down a bit and you know exactly what is going on. You also often have the option of video chat and web chat.
Generally you also have the freedom of choice to admit or exclude strangers into your page. You can also post comments, news, videos and photos onto the pages of those friends who have granted you entry to their pages.
The general estimate is that there are more than 200 social networking sites running at present, each with its own slant on what they believe people want to communicate about.
There seems to be a growing tendency to specialise in order to draw people with common interests together. For instance, specialist cooking and gardening and automobile networks, animal and pet networks and networks for lonely people looking for new friendships, partners or even just sex.
Whatever people are interested in, there are social networks for them to share and express themselves. Many of the larger social networks that cater for general interest socialising also provide links to specialist sites, such as job seeking, health, or any amount of other useful information.
A huge new field of academic research has opened up concerning social networking. In the old days most people were confined to friendships in geographical areas where they lived close enough together to communicate easily. All this has changed, and a close friend on the other side of the world is just a mouse click away.
Constant research is being done, both for sociological reasons as well as simply for business purposes: to get the recognition and to attract more and more users. Providing what people want is always the key to success.
Success indeed is what some sites have had. Chunks of Facebook sold for mind boggling sums has left at least some of the co-founders billionaires.