Social Networking sites have become some of the most popular destinations on the Internet. They function as gathering places, promotional tools, and virtual hangouts for millions of users all over the world.
How do they work? There are two basic principles that account for their success:
- They make it easy for users to create a customized page of their own where they can express their personality
- Users can link their sites to their friends, allowing them to create a quantifiable manifestation of their social network.
Visit one or more of the following social networking websites. If you already belong to one or more social networking sites, try visiting one you're not familiar with.
- MySpace: The most popular social networking site on the planet, frequented by millions of teens and twentysomethings, and used by bands as a marketing tool
- Facebook: Originally designed for use on college campuses, skews to a slightly older audience, and features a cleaner, more customizable interface
- LinkedIn: Designed for professionals to post resumes and build contacts.
- Eons: Social networking and activity sharing geared toward ages 50+.
- Choose one of the social networking sites listed above. Again, if you already belong to a social networking site, try a new one.
- Visit the site and create a new profile. You don't have to use your real information if you're concerned about privacy.
- Upload a photo to your profile (it doesn't have to be of yourself, or even of a person) and fill in some of the "about me" features. This is your chance to give your profile a little personality, so feel free to be as creative as you like.
- Once you've created your profile, explore the site a little more. Search for somebody-- a friend, a co-worker, a former classmate, a famous author, or even one of the current presidential candidates. Add them to your friends list.
- Create a blog post about your experience. What features do you like or dislike about the site(s) you visited? What do you think makes them so popular?
BONUS CHALLENGE (optional)
There are several social networking sites designed for book lovers. The two most notable sites are LibraryThing and GoodReads. Both of these sites allow members to create an online "bookshelf" where they can rate or review the titles they've read and share recommendations with their friends. Several libraries have even begun to integrate LibraryThing features into their online catalogs.
For extra credit, take a look around one of these sites. (You don't have to create an account to browse either site, but feel free to register if you'd like.) Search for one or two of your favorite books and see how other readers have rated, reviewed, or tagged the item. Do you think our Library could benefit by offering some of these features? Add your thoughts to your blog.
Now it's time to explore Thing 5: Flickr and Photo Sharing.