A couple of my 2007 predictions involve blogging, podcasting and other social networking tools moving into the enterprise. I thought it might be useful to post about how this whole phenomena started and follow with a few posts to lay the ground work for business leaders to understand what it means (or doesn’t mean) to be Web 2.0 compliant.
When you look at the sheer number of bloggers and the amount of ink that has been used to talk about blogs, bloggers, and social networking, you might guess that it has been around for the past 10 or 20 years. Well, when the Internet bubble burst in 2000/2001, there were only about 400 bloggers in existence and there were no tools for creating, managing and following blogs.
What did exist was a number of very technical people in the Silicon Valley area who had been laid off, were bored and wanted very much to communicate with each other, if for no other reason than, to talk about the companies and leaders who had just fired them. Take self proclaimed “geeks”, have them involved in something they are passionate about, and they will develop tools to make things easier. More importantly, they were a pool of technical knowledge to test new things and provide feedback to the developers.
Among the universe at the time were Ben and Mena Trott who created blogging tools and turned them into Six Apart one of the leading blogging suites in the market. Robert Scoble who eventually went to work for Microsoft and became one the leading blogger/video bloggers on the planet. Also around at the time, although I don’t think unemployed, was Dave Winer who is credited for being one of the creators of code to simplify the distribution and syndication of content known as RSS (Really Simple Syndication). He also created a capability called an “enclosure”,which facilitated the distribution of audio (podcast) and video (vlogging) files by passing the address of a media file to an RSS aggregator.
The end result, the number of bloggers has been doubling about every six or seven months. Sites like MySpace and Facebook have developed with millions of users and turned into businesses that were acquired or sought after by companies who would like access to the eyeballs who use/visit the site.
Some of the tools were joined together with other new web development capabilities (commonly referred to as Web 2.0) and new communities were built. MySpace and Facebook were created as communities. Flickr was created for exchanging photos and Diggwhere users vote on the best news of the day along with hundreds of other community related sites.
Bottom line is that the tools were created and used to communicate, socialize and connect with like minded individuals who formed communities. So it makes sense that the subject area is referred to as “Social Networking”.
I have provided some hot links to reference pages in Wikipedia for anyone who wants to read a little more about the people and sites mentioned above. From there, Wikipedia provides further links to specific sites.