What is social networking?

Social networking, in a broad general sense, encompasses all of our human social interactions, whether they are physical or virtual in nature.

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Social networking as described in this subject of study (CSU INF506), as well as that which has been adopted in common language refers to online social networking. It relies on online computer software tools connected across the Internet and shared for the purposes of connecting and engaging with other people from around the world.

A meeting of people in a local cafe for a face-to-face chat is indeed ‘social networking’. A text-based discussion using an online tool such as Facebook accessed from personal devices using keypads to type in words that are transported by the Internet and then displayed on a screen to enable the words to be communicated – this too is ‘social networking’, albeit entirely dependent on the latest technology, a wide digital infrastructure, and a presumed level of acquired digital literacy.

Online social networking increases our possibilities to engage with others across the world, and yet it significantly decreases the opportunities for us to be able to assess the authenticity of that engagement. Lacking the human interaction tools that we rely on, we have to make those assessments based on the text alone. 😉 That text is delivered with a vast array of literary ability, and, indeed, truth. It is no wonder people often get duped into making wrong decisions through online social networking relationships.

An incomplete list of social networking/media sites I have used

Social site Start date Still using Usage
Hotmail 1996 yes ***
Amazon 4/03/2003 no *
Delicious 2005 yes ****
Bloglines 2005 no
43 things 5/05/2005 no
Blogspot 30/04/2006 no
Panoramio 2006 no
GMail 2006 yes *****
Google Reader 2006 yes *****
Skype 2006 no *
Flickr 23/06/2006 yes ***
LibraryThing 06/09/2006 yes ***
Wikipedia (editor) 2006 yes ***
WordPress 14/09/2006 yes *****
Facebook 9/05/2007 yes *****
Twitter 8/8/2007 yes *****
Wikispaces 1/11/2007 yes ***
PB wiki 2007 no *
Slideshare 5/03/2008 yes ****
Evernote 29/10/2008 yes ***
Good Reads 30/03/2010 yes ****
Linkedin 01/04/2010 yes ****
Google+ 2011 yes ****
YouTube 2/11/2011 yes ***
Tumblr ? no
Storify 22/02/2012 yes **
Pinterest 1/10/2012 yes ****

Online social networking tools are changing all of the time, and not only is it necessary to keep an eye out for new tools, but also to keep up with changes in familiar tools. Like many people, I use a ‘try and see’ approach to these tools and this allows me to assess how useful this tool might be for me.

This subject of INF506 Social Networking for Information Professionals will hopefully address real issues about social networking: security, freedom of information, privacy, copyright, psychological and cultural issues, generational tendencies, attempts of organisations to try to capture and tame ‘the beast’, social movements, anarchy and liberty. 

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