Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Lifespan of a social network

Screenshot of mIRC
During the early years of the internet, social networking was unheard of. When I was in high school (1997-2001) and early college (2001-2002), the "in" thing then was chatting via mIRC. If someone asks for your photos, you give them the link to your yahoo profile, pic link, or other photo uploading sites.

There was a high level of anonymity in using this internet relay chat client because you can basically use any username (that may or may not be related to your real name at all) and you are not required to upload a profile picture.

It is up to the users to post on the main channel pages and attract other users to chat with you. Many people post their location (e.g. "Makati anyone?") so that someone nearby may send them a message and start a conversation. Some post their interests ("Who among here reads the Harry Potter series?") for the same purpose.

Yahoo! Messenger also became a big hit because of its customize-able look (font, background, profile photo). This chat application also has different channels where a user can join conversations. There is less anonymity in this chat platform because it is connected to your personal email account which can be hacked.

Come 2002, social networking was born through the creation of Friendster.com. It is a networking site where a user can add his friends, family, schoolmates and acquaintances as part of his social circle. With the success of Friendster, other sites like MySpace and Facebook were created to challenge its success. MySpace became very successful in the US and became number 1. Friendster remained stable and strong in some countries like the Philippines until Facebook and Twitter became the new leaders, making the fall of Friendster inevitable.

I was lucky to have been able to copy all my photos uploaded in Friendster before it completely transformed itself to the social gaming site that it is today. Good thing I tried to read all messages and notifications on a regular basis even if I was more busy with Facebook and multiply then (year 2009).

Multiply.com is another social networking site that gained popularity here in the Philippines because of the ability that it gave users to create their own site where they can upload photos, videos, blogs, reviews, announcements and other stuff. However, the site also reached its dormancy stage and transformed into a marketplace (buy-and-sell) website that it is today.

Oh how I miss my multiply site. I dedicated a lot of time customizing it to give it a "me" look. Now, barely anyone visits my site. My problem now is how to transfer all the media that I have uploaded to this site to this current blog and/or to my Facebook account. I can't remember if I have a back-up of all those files so I might end up with the copy/save-as method which is very time consuming and cumbersome.

Today, Facebook and Twitter dominates the social networking world. What made Facebook an instant hit is its simplicity - no background design and customization, just posts - which made it easy to load and access, whether through a computer or a mobile phone. Still, it has all the features a social network should have.

Twitter logo
As for Twitter, it is also as popular as Facebook because it complements it. Its features do not directly compete with those of Facebook. Twitter, dubbed as "the SMS of the Internet," enables one to post tweets (up to 140 characters only) to update your followers on things that you are doing, your thoughts, feelings, share quotations, share links, make announcements and even advertisements.

The problem now is the ability to back-up everything a user has posted to these 2 major social networking sites. I started using Facebook last 2008. Right now, I know the company is still stable. But who knows when its demise might be, right? By then, how will I be able to compile all the photos, videos and other media that I have uploaded and shared? Sounds very difficult right? Same as with Twitter - as of now, I have posted 8,700+ tweets since I joined the site and I still have no idea how to compile all my tweets from inception to date.

With all the ups and downs that these social network sites have gone through, I think it's always safe to have a backup of one's media files (photos, music, videos, blog posts, etc.) so that whatever happens to these sites will no longer pose a problem in terms of recovery. In the past, people used to print almost all pictures taken with film cameras - and one can easily look back at those memories. Today, digital cameras allowed users to save their numerous photo files on their computers and simply upload them somewhere in the internet. Indeed, a reliable backup and recovery tool (e.g. USB's, external hardware) is the solution.

Let's stay connected. Whether we admit it or not, it's what keeps us sane. Feel free to add me on Facebook and Twitter, or send me an email. Cheers!

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