A Decade of Gadgets 5: The rise of social networks

The phenomenon of social networking has grown alongside the proliferation of gadgets. It started to become popular as a desktop craze with the launch of MySpace in 2003. When Facebook joined battle with MySpace a year later, and to a lesser degree Bebo, social networking attracted a lot of publicity. This resulted in the acquisition of MySpace by Rupert Murdoch’s News Corporation in 2005 at the same time as Facebook officially opened its doors to a worldwide audience.

The general public had a taste for celebretising themselves and it was probably this that gave Twitter its big break following its launch in 2006. It took Twitter a year or so to really make its presence known but its classification of “friends” in other sites as “followers” in Twitter seemed to appeal to messianic aspirations in its users. One thought encapsulated in no more than 140 characters can immediately be sent to every follower. Its hardly surprising that celebrities now tweet their every thought through this medium.
The other appeal of Twitter was that messages could be sent and received from a mobile phone. Anywhere, anytime communication proved to be a big draw so much so that other social networking sites have incorporated tweets into their sites and also made their pages upgradable by phone messaging.
Just as Facebook overtook MySpace in popularity, so Twitter has risen above them both despite its lack of a richly furnished community page for each user.
Another phenomenon of the decade was YouTube which allows members to post video clips for general perusal. Some clips are generating millions of hits and some are even generating news stories and even complete programmes on TV.
Maybe its time to upgrade Andy Warhol’s quote: “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes” to “for at least 15 minutes or around 140 characters”.

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