Social Networking: Past, Present and Future

by Michael Smith (Veshengro)

If you ask a teenager today what social networking is the answer will get is Facebook. That is all they would know and maybe Bebo or MySpace. They may say Blogging and that's where it would end for them.

But, I do not think social networking started with AOL or Yahoo Groups or even with online community called “The Well”, which was founded in 1985 and is now part of Social networking is far older than that and has been here since the very beginning, since the start of civilization, obviously in a much much different form, but it was not called thus.

Toward the end of the 20th century we saw the arrival of the wireless telephone, the cell phone; before that it was the regular phone and before that it was the telegraph. These are all tools that were used for social networking. Television and radio can also be considered social networking tools. All these tools made it possible to share information. Fast rewind to beginning and we get social tools such as fires, beacons, smoke signals, pigeons, human messengers and mirrors. I think all these were tools for social networking in one way or another.

But they are but communications tools... social networking goes much deeper. It is speech and interaction, newspapers, journals – Blogs today – and books.

Another tool too often forgotten now which was a social networking tool ever since the advent of writing is the letter, which today has, primarily, turned into e-mail. But those tools are nothing new and the real social networking in community in the real world was the gathering, the meetings of the community, of societies, or groups.

The writers of books of old and of today always interacted with their readers; at least the good ones did and wanted to, and thus created also some sort of social networking.

Debating societies and political groups and labor unions all were, to a degree, social networks that engaged in social networking.

Many of those debating societies and such like were the forerunners of the Internet forums and groups of today and they are still as valid today as they were in the days of old.

Face to face interaction is still what the human soul demands and for that reason we find that so many online forums do try to arrange, every now and then. Physical meeting of at least some of their members.

We see today that there are national and regional chapters forming at some of those online forums and networks so that people can, aside from connecting online, meet also in the physical realm. Thus, social networking is more than just online and we would do well to remember that and, especially, link also in the virtual world, for that is how real communities are built.

© 2010