MySpace Nation and Eyespot
Bringing people together is what all social-networking sites have in common, but how and why they do this—some are just for fun; others are for achieving a goal such as finding a job—is where they differ.
Some sites, including TagWorld, operate along the lines of MySpace, predicated on the idea of letting you create a personal-profile page where you can share all sorts of random thoughts and multimedia content. Other users become your “friends,” some of whom are complete strangers. From there, it’s a popularity contest of sorts to see how many friends you can amass. So far, MySpace president Tom Anderson is the prom king, with more than 80 million friends.
Other sites, like Flickr and YouTube, are merely a repository of user-provided content. Buzznet, Flickr, and Zoto (among others) broadcast your digital photos. And Eyespot, Grouper, and YouTube serve up your personal videos and hilarious, poignant, or bone-crushing moments captured from live TV. You can share your browser bookmarks on del.icio.us, your MP3s on Mercora, and the names of your favorite books on LibraryThing. The idea here is that you can get better results searching for specific content that’s been hand-picked from the vast reaches of cyberspace. And most tagging sites will let you then follow the trail of breadcrumbs to see who posted the link you like and what other content he or she has to offer.
Sites like LinkedIn, which at three years old is one of social networking’s pioneers, use existing business contacts as the roots for growing new ones. They’re built on the notion of six degrees of separation—the idea that we’re only six introductions away from anyone we’d want to meet. Linked-In and similar six-degree sites such as Friendster, Ryze, Plaxo, and Tribe were the first to use the term social networking.
Some sites use the wildly popular concept of tagging as a tool to link people together. Users are encouraged to tag their information with keywords, a way of linking similar content. If you’re an anime fan, for example, you can visit TagWorld, click on the “Anime” tag, and instantly browse all photos involving Japanese animation.
Once you’ve linked to the posts of other anime fans, you might find yourself browsing beyond their anime pics, into the rest of their photo collections, their music, their blogs. Who knows? You might develop a running online relationship—or even meet them in person.