Monday, November 16, 2009

History of the Social Web

Social Web
Image Credit: ocean.flynn
Just when did social media begin? Some would argue with the telephone, but(even with the advent of three-way calling) vocal conversations remain primarily a one-to-one medium, while social media is fueled by many-to-many communications. In the late 1970s, Bulletin Board Services (BBSs) came into existence, allowing users to exchange messages by connecting to standalone computers.

However, it was not until the emergence of the Internet that a common means became available to access a social platform. In 1979, UseNet became a popular way for Internet users to post articles and respond in hierarchically-organized newsgroups. BBSs, such as CompuServe and Prodigy, grew into important social media platforms. In the 80s, the number and type of social  media on the Internet continued to expand, such as discussion forums and dating services, but it wasn't until the first decade of the third millennium that real explosion of social media hit.

The following resources detail the amazing journey of how social media became the phenomenon it is today:


  1. Very interesting insight on the social web. I didnt realize how far back the history of the social web went.

  2. The growth of our technology has never ceased to marvel me. Imagine what it would be like in the future! :-)

  3. I think that it is amazing how the social media has advanced. The growth of technology is just amazing. You can do just about anything via internet now days.

    You can work, do school, visit with friends, plan trips, check banks and much more now with the technology today. It will be ineteresting to see how much more advanced we get in the future.
    Debbie Clark

  4. Hi Debbie,

    I am pleased you found the post of value. It is exiting to see what will happen in the future.

  5. I have grown up with technology so nothing seems really amazing to me. I guess I take it for granted and forget that years ago that there was nothing like this. I don't know what I would do without the technology we have today.

    Although it never amazes me much when some new technology comes along I have a feeling that there is going to be a lot of new amazing advances in technology and I can't wait to see what those advances are.

    Greg Gourlie

  6. Technology really has come a long ways. I could not picture myself living in the 1950's just because my life would be so radically different. For example, I think that it would be extremely harder for me to further my schooling while balancing home life and work life all at the same time.

    One of the best things that technology has offered us it the ability to gather information from vast areas. Back in the 50's, if a person wanted to write a paper they would have to go to the library and search for hours trying to find information they could use. Now a days, it only takes a matter of minutes to find the same reputable information when using servers such as ProQuest. It will be interesting to see what the next for of technology will be.

    Deirdre Smith

  7. Hi Deirdre,

    Good point about the ability to gather information. Social media makes it virtually impossible to hide. If you are online, you leave trail. And today, the world is filled with trackers that hunt down consumers matching their target market.

  8. I found your blog very informative. I know that only the few popular social networking sites such as facebook, myspace and twitter. For some it has become an addiction. I always wondered how they got started. It has advanced leaps and bounds. I always find it interesting to read about technology and how it has advanced so much over such a short period of time.

    These networking sites are a wonderful development. I have kept in touch with friends that are halfway across the world. It makes things so easy for us to keep in contact, check personal funds, and even check reviews on a product. You name it and it can be found. I look forward to see what further technological advances are made that will make me continue to be amazed.

    Adriana Maier

  9. It never occured to me that social media stated as far back as the telephone. In fact, I probably would've answered that it started with myspace. However, the internet was absoulutley the harbringer of better things.

    As advanced as technology is now, the potential for improvment is almost scary. It'll be fun to see how it goes.

    Daniel Nelson

  10. Daniel--you right, it is fun to watch technology march on, and a bit scary for companies who become complacent. If you aren't participating and listening to what is being said about your company, you are asking for trouble. A good example the bike lock company that was unaware a YouTube video got posted about defeat their lock with a simple Bic pen. That story made it to the NY Times before the company became aware of the problem!

  11. A great history lesson! I forgot that these sites that I use daily, Youtube, Facebook, Twitter etc, have only been around for 5+ years, and the original concept not more than 10. It’s incredible how much social networking has changed how we interact with others during that period. No wonder social media marketing is becoming so popular and necessary. T. Smith

  12. It is hard to believe that there have been so many social networking sites in such a short period of time. They have evolved from the very basic to the social tool of the decade. I do believe that the whole AOL phenomenon was overlooked as far as a social platform went. AOL seemed to be one of the biggest social network gathering spots in the 90's and early 2000.

    Technology is ever evolving and so do people's tastes and preferences. As popular as Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter are today, the future holds something else that will replace them. I can't wait to see what the future holds.

  13. To think that about 50 years ago the main methods of communicating was via telephone (Landline) along with snail mail. I am still young so it is hard for me to imagine the world before all of the technological conveniences that are available to us today. Instant communication is a huge commodity today that everyone shares.

    I like how you put this into perspective for me, the history that is! It allows me to have a deeper appreciation for the technology that I use today. Thanks for your article! Keep it up!

    Jesse Neil Holford

  14. Jesse--thank you for the kind words about the post. It is amazing how quickly things advance. It has been said that people tend to be too optimistic about advances in the short term and too pessimistic about tech advances in the long run.

  15. I am amazed that social media sites have come around so quickly. I am so excited to see what the future holds. I am a user of Facebook and am currently in a business class in college. We are learning how businesses can use social media sites to get ahead.

    It has been interesting to learn how much of an advantage social media sites can give you. It is however a little overwhelming. There are so many sites to view. It would be difficult choosing the right site.

    -Chris Hale

  16. The social web fascinates me. When I was young, the web did not exist. So, it's also a little scary. The sheer enormity of web communications is simply an overwhelming concept.

    I use e-mail and have recently begun posting on facebook. I could not do without e-mail. Faceboook has surprised me. I did not realize how simply old friends would be able to find me and vise versa. What a pleasant surprise.
    Tasha Gulack

  17. It is fascinating the extent to which the various social web networks have increased in popularity. I work in a public library. After email, using online social networks has become the most visited sites on the Internet. The rapid explosion of use of these sites shows how much the Internet has become a part of everyone's lives today. These networks also allow people to connect with many other people, that they normally could not meet. Also, it enables companies and organizations to promote their business ideas and products online. Today, it has almost become mandatory for organizations and businesse to become part of the social media network. More & more, companies are marketing on Facebook.

    Wendy L. Rosen

  18. Chris, Tasha, and Wendy--glad you found this topic so interesting. The history of social Web is a short but fascinating one.


  19. I had no idea the Internet went back that far. I don't think my parents got Internet in the house until I was a freshman in high-school. That was in 1994 and I remember thinking it was the coolest thing.

    It's crazy how far technology has come. The social network today is huge! There are so many different ways to meet people or to stay in contact. I personally only use facebook and myspace occasionally. I have not looked into twitter and I don't use blogs. I found this blog for a class assignment, I didn't realize how much useful information can be found in these blogs, I might have found a new addiction, lol...

    Holly Holmes

  20. I think it's interesting learning about the history of social media marketing. Five years ago I learned about Myspace and loved it! I was able to reconnect with old friends. I admit, I thought it was just a place for people, not businesses.
    Today, however, I have learned about Facebook and Twitter and have realized it is such a great place for businesses! I am able to keep up to date with my favorite stores and find out when they have special deals going on! I can get online on my phone and figure out business hours and make it there before they close! Technology is amazing!
    Heather Hendrickson

  21. Heather--yes, it is amazing how quickly things change on the social Web.