Friday, August 10, 2007

Social networking

Someone was telling me that some top IT people who write blogs regularly and have a presence on Facebook and Myspace, etc are now so busy with these Web-based interactions that they don’t have time to do their real jobs properly. So, they employ people to live their Web life for them while they get on with their proper work!

This is to confirm that I am really writing this blog and I don’t have an employee doing it for me!!

Facebook (
www.facebook.com) and Myspace (www.myspace.com) are two really interesting examples of how the Web has developed. Both started out as the domain of youngsters and are now being colonized by older people – parents and grandparents of the original users. It appears that we are all keen on social networking.

Recently-announced figures suggest that Facebook has grown by 270 percent and Myspace by 72 percent in a year. Although Myspace has more users logging in each day (28.8 million) than Facebook (which has 15 million).


The good thing about these sites, according to marketeers, is that they identify new trends very early in their life-cycle. So marketing people know exactly what products they should be selling this season.

The downside, I suppose, is that this cult of newness means that after a time the excitement goes from these sites and they gradually shrink in terms of usage. At one time, everyone was talking about friendsreunited (www.friendsreunited.co.uk) and catching up with old school friends. Once you’ve caught up, the point of such a site diminishes. Similarly, Friendster (www.friendster.com) was very popular, but is perhaps less so now.

Youtube (www.youtube.com) is also very popular with youngsters because of the humorous and other short videos you can see there. I’m not sure that much interaction occurs between users on this site except someone uploads a video and other people can watch it, but lots of people have joined.

A question many people ask is, are they dangerous? Facebook allows you to collect friends – in fact a colleague and I were having a competition earlier this year to see who could get the most friends on Facebook! When we stopped, we were still not even slightly close to the totals my children and their friends have. But is it dangerous? Does it encourage sexual predators, and are our youngsters at risk? The answer is probably not because the more real friends you have on these networks the less likely you are to talk to strangers.

Wikipedia (itself often maligned) lists 100 social networking sites at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_social_networking_websites. You can see how many you belong to.

Like lots of other people, I have an entry on LinkedIn (
www.linkedincom), Zoominfo (www.zoominfo.com), Plaxo (www.plaxo.com), and Naymz (www.naymz.com), and I have links to other people. However, if I really want to talk to any of these people, I e-mail them, which is exactly what I would have done if I didn’t belong to the networking site.

I think the plethora of social networking sites will eventually shrink to a few that everyone can use and a few that are specialized. I think some will grab people’s attention and become somewhere that you must have a presence, and others will wither and die as they forget to update or update with facilities that no-one really cares about. I think they could be useful as business tools if you could get people to join your group. For example, all the subscribers to Xephon’s (www.xephonusa.com) CICS Update could form a group on Facebook and share information about CICS. However, I’m not sure that most people belonging to these networks take them that seriously and would spend enough time talking to their group for there to be a business case, at the moment.

Anyway, the real Trevor Eddolls will not be blogging next week because I am going to be a tourist in China. Any burglars reading this post, please note that someone will be feeding our large and fierce dogs twice a day.

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