Monday, July 30, 2007

Social Networking

I'll probably reprise this rant vocally on my weekly podcast.

I've never been one to be at the forefront of popular culture trends. When I first connected online in 1997, I signed up for America Online. Yes, AOL. Its unreliable dial-up tended to kick me (and presumably everyone else) offline every hour or so. And yet, I stuck with it, as well as its outrageous monthly fee (in hindsight), for the sake of staying connect with my friends. Instant messaging! (It was either that, or ICQ, which I have no idea how that worked.) Yes, peer pressure at its best.

Around the turn of the millennium, people started to jump ship from AOL and Earthlink and Juno, etc. etc. for the exciting new world of DSL. You get phone calls while surfing the Web! Fast downloads on Napster! Being about $50 a month at the time, such a jump in technology was a little too expensive.

Alteratively, many of my high school friends left to (relatively) distant lands for college...and with it, came tuition-paid T1 Internet access. Those formerly attached to AOL could continue their Instant Messaging on AOL Instant Messenger, or AIM. As far as I can tell, AIM still has a following, though I have no logged on AIM in more than five years.

Around 2003, a couple of close friends introduced me to Xanga and Friendster. I also stumbled upon MySpace at the time, but thought nothing of it until 2004.

In 2005, I was introduced to Google Video by a friend, who's friends with an inside source. While that was cool, I was on my last few months of dial-up (yeah...late), so I didn't have much use for that. I think I uploaded one video using a friend's DSL connection.

Later in 2005, Youtube showed up, and while I thought highly of it, I didn't have the time yet to switch my $20 per month AOL dial-up to a more useful $20 per month DSL connection. Evidently, Youtube got big. At the time, I was teaching a couple of high school fine arts/applied arts classes, so I observed secondhand the popularity of Youtube (and Myspace, but I was part of that too).

As an aside, It seems to me that Youtube has a higher population density of haters. Trolls. Legitimately five-star videos are impossible (if they've had many ratings), so anything that's 4 or 4 1/2 seems to be something "worthwhile" to the masses...

In the meanwhile, AOL changed its business model and is essentially free for the few who stuck around. I still have my account, by the way.

And now there's Shelfari (social networking for books), LinkedIn (for people with careers), Twitter (for stalker-friendly people?), etc. etc. Not to mention LiveJournal and Blogger, which I've failed to mention before. And Garage Band and PureVolume (for musicians).

And Internet porn. And filesharing. (Same as it ever was...)

And podcasts. And video podcasts...or are they called video blogs (vlogs)?

So where was I? The whole World Wide Web scene is pretty overwhelming. People collecting "friends" and/or fans...for whatever purpose, in hopes of fame or money or both. Anyway, I've run dry on this rant.

Here's to Search Engine Optimization (SEO)...and spam!

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