Short History of Social Networking and Its Far-Reaching Impact

Short History of Social Networking and Its Far-Reaching Impact

Liguo Yu (Indiana University – South Bend, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7601-3.ch041
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This chapter describes the evolution of social networking together with its supporting technologies. Most popular social networking service providers, such as Facebook, Tencent, Twitter, and Sina Weibo are described with their market and financial data. The new business and new social relations built on social networking platforms are introduced and their impacts are discussed. The future trends of social networking are also illustrated based on the potential development of related emerging technologies. The objective of this chapter is to help readers understand the impact of technology on the functioning, evolution, and variation of socializations.
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Social networking began with the introduction of computer network (Warschauer, 2004). The early form of virtual group is the email mailing list. Email is a communication mechanism established originally on mainframe computers in 1972 (Merritt, 2012). Later, this mechanism is introduced into personal computers on the network. A simple email communication between two users might not be too much different from the traditional surface mail communication, because it only involves two users and no social groups or social relations are formed here.

However, an email mailing list service provides an unprecedented mechanism to group users together and form virtual communities. Users do not need to meet face to face and could share their feelings, information, and ideas, remotely. With the support of email attachment, pictures, documents, and links to information or data on the Internet could be shared within the group. Although mailing list is an asynchronous communication mechanism, it is better enough to shadow the traditional mail correspondence. Despite the fact that many modern social networking services have emerged in the past ten years, email mailing list is still widely used in business, education, and some organizations. One of the most famous mailing lists is Linux Kernel Mailing List that connects Linux developers and users and forms the Linux community. This virtual community was established in 1995 and had over 14 thousand members in 2008 (Chu, 2009), and it is still actively used as the main platform for Linux community members to post announcements, ask questions, and address issues.

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