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Sunday, January 25, 2004

A Brief History of Social-Networking Sites

First, there was Friendster, the social-networking tool where people who want to meet people can meet people by invitation only (chicken or egg, anyone?). But it wasn't really the first social-networking site. It was really just a copy of some defunct site known as Six Degrees, or whatever it was called. Friendster then begot a bunch of other social-networking sites, which began to beget other types of social sites, such as job-networking sites, where you could turn to find a job from someone you've never met -- only if you got an invitation first (despite the "democratic" pretense, it's still who you know that counts, I guess).

Fast forward to last week. The first social-searching site, dubbed Eurekster (you know, Eureka + Friendster?) jumped into the mosh pit of "socialist" sites. I'm not quite sure what it's good for other than to spy on what your friends are searching for. At least, that's my understanding of it. I could be wrong.

Then, Google, the most original search engine of all time that supposedly tried to buy out Friendster for $30 million but was rebuffed, decided to create its own social-networking site called Orkut (It's named after the brilliant guy at Google who came up with the idea to copy the social-network site copycats). But, it's "beta," which means Google can always say it was an experiment if it goes down in flames.

So there you have it. Social-networking sites are spreading like wildfire. Surely there are millions of people chatting it up, meeting friends of friends and improving their lives and employment situations, but I have yet to meet one of them. In any case, venture capital is flowing to this latest flavor of the month. Will it ever pay off? Who cares, man! Let's party like it's 1999!

But why stop with completely socializing the Web? Maybe this socially themed fad will spread into the real world, a la Agent Smith in the Matrix Reloaded? Gasp! What if healthcare becomes socialized in the United States, the last industrialized country to have universal healthcare for all citizens? Perish the thought...

Posted by Cory Kleinschmidt




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