A very rough history of tech driven social networks

Working on a two day course on Social Networks and Business today and thought the following bit of collated research might be of interest.

Thanks must go to @barstep for the reminder of Amateur Radio, but please do add further suggestions in the comments as this isn’t very complete and is of a length to fit on a Power Point slide. Dates are via Wikipedia, and so thoroughly contestable, but the point I’m trying to show in the course is that technology driven social networks are older than you may think.

A very rough history of technology driven social networks

1900s: Amateur (Ham) Radio
1940s: Citizen Broadcast (CB) Radio
1960s: Origins of the internet (a system of computer networks)
1979: Usenet (a message board system)
1980s: Message boards, Compuserve
1989: Beginnings of the WWW
1993: CERN makes the web free, launch of the Mosaic browser
1994: First blogs appear, launch of Geocities
1996: Classmates– one of the first recognisable social networks
1998: Yahoo! Groups launches
1999: The blogging platforms Live Journal and Blogger launch
2000: Friends Reunited and DeviantArt launch
2003: WAYN, LinkedIn and MySpace launch
2004: Flickr, Orkut, Tagged and Facebook launch
2005: Bebo and Ning launch
2006: Twitter

UPDATE 27/09/2009: Via Alessandro Piana Bianco
– slashdot.org (1997)
– kuro5hin.org (1999)
– digg.com (2004)

UPDATE 28/09/2009: I of course forgot to mention…
2003: Second Life
2005: YouTube

Archiving the ephemeral

LoadingPretty Loaded – a preloader museum curated by Big Spaceship.

A salute to Flash loading screens. Fellow blogger Tom Armitage, who spotted it, didn’t quite know what to say, but I strangely like it. It goes to show how much creativity can go into what was the online equivalent of standing on a platform waiting for a train to come – sometimes the train arrives immediately, sometimes you have ads to look at, sometimes the train never comes.

Yet, as Flash loading screens are so throw-away, they’re the sort of thing that can get lost over time. When archiologists delve back into what’s left of what we currently understand as the internet in years to come you know they’ll find chunks of Wikipedia, and remnants of blogs but Flash loading pages and microsites…?

The creators describe the site as “a tribute to a vanishing art form amid a constant changing digital world.” Let’s hope that the site itself doesn’t also vanish, as history shouldn’t always be made up of the things that didn’t wear out.

This ‘museum’ also reminds me of a fantastic project that friend Iain Simons is involved with, Save the Videogame. Together with the National Media Museum and Nottingham Trent University are building a National Videogame Archive and are raising awareness across the UK that videogames are disappearing. More below: