Social Media – An Overview

The idea of consumers generating content only remained a dream until a blast of technology (thanks to Web 2.0!) has spawned a host of users that create content in the form of words, visuals and so on and so forth. Indeed, the world is gradually but steadily moving away from the times when the dissemination of information were purely through the medium of newspaper, television and film and where consumers could only access information and not necessarily use these mediums to produce valuable information themselves.

All that has changed with the advent of the internet (and specifically, Web 2.0), and with blogging in print and visual form, information does not rest in the hands of just journalists, but to common folks as well. Apart from just the communication of information, several other avenues of multimedia has sprung forth such as the sharing and broadcasting of video, photographs and music, that can accessed for no charge at all.

Although, the vision of social media is to help people share media freely, the issue of copyright has also come to the forefront. For example, when the Dark Knight was first released, despite blocking all the routes, it was made freely accessible to users with a broadband internet connection in a matter of 18 hours!

Finally, social networking and bookmarking are also ways by which the ‘online community’ can share ideas, thoughts; keep in touch with friends as well as save information that can have an impact on their lives on a daily basis.
All in all, it seems that we are smack dab in the middle of the ‘Attention Age’.

Facebook – The Leader in Social Networking

When Mark Zuckerburg started ‘Facemash’, little did he know that he was spawn a trendsetter of sorts in social networking, otherwise known as Facebook, that found itself online by February 2004. In April 2008, even though this ‘idea’ that wasn’t so well received initially, Facebook overtook MySpace (another social networking site) to become the most popular application to be used, with its unique visitors hitting almost 130 million in number.

It is obvious to point out that the word ‘Facebook’ which is proper noun, is now referred to as a verb (facebooking) due to its overwhelming popularity that has made it synonymous with the idea of ‘social networking’.

From being a simple site providing a user with the platform to connect with school buddies that are in other states or countries, this site has expanded to the point of not only allowing users to create profiles and post pictures but also allow developers to create software as well. Not only can you access your Facebook profile on the internet but also through Smartphones as well.

Since users can post comments, join groups, play videogames, update their personal status from time to time, write notes on walls while also using the instant messaging, this can turn out to be source of much mirth and entertainment and has drawn the wrath of companies that do not want their employees wasting their on Facebook.

While being the recipient of several awards, it has been subject to criticism most notably in the form of Lamebook (parodied on the name Facebook) which post conversations on Facebook that one might find funny as well.

With the company financials in the ‘red’ since September 2009, it sure looks like things are looking up for the ‘grand-daddy of all social networking sites’, also known as Facebook.

Citizen Journalism

It’s evident that publishing has come full circle today ever since it was first declared in The Virginia Declaration of Rights (1776) that the freedom of the press is one of the greatest liberties that a human being is entitled to, and should not be controlled by despotic governments.

While our distinguished members of the Press continue to point out the apparent lack of ‘objectivity’ through citizen journalism, it still does play an important role in the fact-checking of any incident that causes concern on a national or global scale. Take for example the tragedy that struck Mumbai in November 2008, where instead of journalists providing us information, the blogs were written by normal citizens ‘in situ’ that gave people a play-by-play update of what was happening.

And one can only assume that in this heyday, the networks (read: despotic governments) that controlled the flow of information in one direction to the customer is now finding that they have no way to control the ‘nature of the beast’ while it expands exponentially through the power of the internet and creative applications (Read: Web 2.0) at their disposal in the quest for truthful journalism by letting people express their opinions as well, and thus creating an even playing field.

It’s obvious that the old cliché ‘history repeats itself’ makes itself apparent here, and thanks to the million of bloggers and those who share information both in the print and visual format, the world has turned into a place where people remain better informed while having the ‘freedom to publish’ once more.

After all, there is no room for double-standards when our goals in the collective aspire towards democracy.

Twitter Reaches 50 Million Tweets a day

As bizarre as the number suggests, Twitter has reached 50 million tweets a day, in comparison to the measly figure of 5000 tweets a day since its presence on the web in the year 2007. To put it mildly, this explosion in its number of users and these astounding stats is taking Twitter places since last year only further cementing its place as the ‘SMS of the Internet’.

For those of you who don’t know, Twitter is a micro-blogging and social networking site that is free of cost to sign up with, that allows its users to send and read messages known as tweets that are of no more than 140 characters of length, and is delivered to the user’s subscribers also known as his/ her followers. Its content is divided into sections such as News, Spam, Self-promotion, Pointless babble, Conversational and Pass-along value, of which ‘pointless babble’ heads the list with 40.5 of messages sent.

Perhaps the reason for its uninhibited success as of today can be attributed to the intent of its service as described by its CEO, Evan Williams, “What we have to do is deliver to people the best and freshest and most relevant information possible. We think of Twitter as it’s not a social network, but it’s an information network. It tells people what they care about as it is happening in the world.”

Regardless of reports that Twitter only manages to retain 40 % of its total users, as well as predictions that it will reach only 10 % of Internet users, its current figures of 600 tweets per second is staggering enough to conclude that it is indeed in the top 50 most accessed sites on the Internet.