The old saying that Rome was not in built in a day is very apt for social networking. Everyone keeps talking about how this is the latest and greatest fad. The naysayers are already appearing as they always do to tell us about how the new idea is bad. The truth is that we are now at a point in time where humanity is beginning to benefit from the long standing development in online communications.
This blog post was started with one thought this morning. I was checking Listorious and noticed something very interesting: it took Twitter seven months to get their first 1000 followers. To put this in perspective, about four and a half years later they have 165 Million followers on the site. That made me start thinking about how much has changed in the last few years and how Twitter was not an overnight success, but a site that developed a philosophy at the right time to help people communicate more effectively.
In order to understand the power of Twitter’s growth we have to go back even farther to the birth of the internet. In 1969 the Arpanet was developed by DARPA, a government agency. The idea was to promote communications between different military bases. The wider applications of their ideas took 20 years to come to fruition. In 1989 Tim Berners-Lee created the program that would lead to the world wide web. These developments would lead to an internet explosion in the nineties, as companies learned to use the web and begun to shift their attention to online marketing and communications.
A little bit after the arpanet was created, the first online bulletin boards and Usenet groups came into existence. These early forerunners of chat rooms were mostly left to the confines of the computer savvy who would communicate with their peers around the world. When the web started to become more popular they developed into forums, which became one of the primary features of current social networks.
That is why the idea of social networking being the new kid on the block is funny. Social networking is the next step in a long series of technological and social developments. When I asked a similar question about this recently on LinkedIn it was interesting to hear that many of the answers referr to social networking as an expanded way of communication around the world.
The true phenomenon is how big social networking has grown. Earlier this week, I compiled Social Networking Statistics. The most amazing statistic to me is that the four largest social networks, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Myspace have a combined 900 million accounts. A little more than 10% of the world’s population is currently talking to each other online.
This is no longer a fad, it is a long term trend in the way we communicate. Years of enhancing communications technology, so every part of the globe has the opportunity to talk to each other is finally happening. Social networking is not an overnight phenomenon, it is the next step in increasing our ability to communicate with each other.