I still remember the day I opened an account on Friendster — it was September 2003 and a friend created an account for me. I wasn’t really into the idea but eventually got the hang of it. Seven years have passed and a lot has changed — yet, the fundamentals of social networking remains the same.
Friendster had about 5 years to its credit; MySpace took over for a couple more, then Facebook is now the reigning king of social networks. It might still be the “in thing” for a couple more years until a better and much fresher social network emerges.
This one thing I learned thru the years — there’s really no loyalty with a platform, just a loyalty to the concept of social interaction and engagement. Just look at how the MySpace crowd moving to Twitter and significantly influencing the atmosphere (see Twitter vs. Justin Bieber).
But we have to give credit where credit is due. Friendster really introduced us to the idea of social networking. Before that, I can’t remember any other site that allows for a more social connection than Friendster. There was a site called Alumni.net (which I recently discovered was founded by a Filipino) that allows for people to add schoolmates to a directory-style listing (IMO, the site is somewhat a pre-cursor to SNS).
It doesn’t even end there — there’s Twitter, Gowalla/SquareSpace and Tumblr/Yahoo! Meme — all trying to take away a piece of the pie.
Seven years is such a long time in internet-years. I imagine it will be a totally different scene 5 years from now. We can’t really say what it is or how it will look like but with the emergence of more smartphones (read: cheap Android phones), a better infrastructure (3.5G/4G) and more affordable connectivity, the social networks of the future will hopefully be more participative (more sharers than lurkers) and platform-agnostic (so it doesn’t matter if your account is on FB, Friendster or MySpace since everything will be inter-connected).
(… and no, I don’t think we would go as far as electing our President via FB Fans or Twitter Followers. Otherwise, Vice Ganda could top the list at 1.5 million).
So, I’m curious, what was your very first social network experience and when did you join? Mine was Friendster, September 2003.