Social networking is the process of virtual interaction amid individuals who are bound to each other with certain social ties such as friendship, family, likes, interest, financial exchange, etc thus forming a formal or informal social structure. In other words, it is a medium through which all people in 21st century communicate. Never before in the history of mankind there been such dynamic modes of communicating & staying connected as there are today. People feel honored on these places since they create an online identity & spaces they can call their own.

There are many forms of such networking such as my MySpace, FriendWise, FriendFinder, Yahoo! 360, Facebook, Orkut, Flicker, linkedin, Twitter & Classmates etc. Facebook being the most popularly used throughout the world. How Social Networking Websites Evolved: Social networking has a long history than its recent commonplace status would imply. Networking sites from classmates. com to Six Degrees. com started with intentions of connecting people with similar interests & creating online communities. However, online spaces like, SixDegrees. om, classmates. com, Fanfare etc that began in late 1990’s were left defunct without much popularity (Madge, Meek, Wellens, & Hooley, 2009).

But with the introduction of Friendster. com in 2002 social networking got skyrocketing fame till 2003 and became a major thespian on the internet. Today, complete social networking sites like MySpace, Twitter and Facebook, along with specialized social networking services like YouTube, Flickr, Digg, and del. icio. us stand amid the United States’ most visited and the world’s most sought out webs on the internet.

MySpace is ranked as the third most popular sought out American Webs – standing in only after Google and Yahoo! –and sixth worldwide, pooling millions of visitors daily. Approximations range from 37. 8 and 56. 8 million distinctive visitors flipping through MySpace’s pages per day. Starting with Six Degrees theory, social networking web developers established upon the notion of offline social networking when planning their products. They designed on the pretext that a normal person has 150 friends, planned to add value to their products by assisting people to utilize and verbalize the degrees of separation online (Castells, 1996).

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Hence, friendster pioneered successfully in modern social networking by focusing more on bringing people together providing online opportunities to share with each other, focusing less on the degrees f separation. Other social networking tools like libraryThing, Youtube, Flicker and del. icio. us focus on keeping people connected through sharing various media such as images, videos or books to keep themselves updated and share with each other. They all thrive on the principle of public participation.

Some renowned networking sites: Myspace: Myspace is also a networking site like Facebook. Till 2006 it was the most popularly visited website in USA, until recent years when it was surpassed globally by its chief rival, in April 2008, based on the number of its monthly visitors. Facebook: Facebook is a social networking website introduced publically in February 2004,is controlled and privately possessed by Facebook, Inc. it has around 500 million active users’ up till July 2010. Users have a wide range of options to network with others.

It is a gathering spot where they make friends. Form communities, upload pictures, make wall posts and search for the desired people etc. Additionally, they can create communities; join networks organized by their places of work, school, college or university. Facebook allows a person of 13 years or above to become an active member of the website. Twitter: Another social networking site twitter, from its inception in 2006 by Jack Dorsey, has earned fame and popularity worldwide and till date is catering around 100 million users worldwide.

It is often termed as the “SMS of the Internet” It allows users to do networking and micro blogging via messages termed as tweets. Social Networking in education Social networking tools are widely used for educational purposes as well because mediums like Facebook has capability to hold learners busy in creative ventures. In Fact some instructors & tutors are communicating to students on this venue online (Yang, 2003). Elgg is an open medium of social networking system devised exclusively for instructors and students to use as an e-portfolio, posting, sharing, and collaboration device.

Similar to LiveJournal and Vox, Elgg has privacy options where students can decide upon users who can view their profiles, posts, blogs, etc. hence; it is running successful among tutors and learners. Enterprise Social Networking Academic libraries are not the only libraries that ought to know about utilizing social networking tools. Companies, including hospitals, are very keen in social networking tools and applications. Why? In business environments, sharing knowledge and finding experts is essential to the goodwill of the organization.

Social networking sites make it easy to find coworkers, along with providing users the means to collaborate, like blogs, discussion boards, and more. Dissemination of knowledge on these forums becomes a lot easier. Other social media: Linkedin, another successful tool to socialize are LinkedIn, a service meant to connect business professionals, colleagues and networks. Still nowhere near the attainment or reach of MySpace or Facebook, its traffic is ascending, and the site has been pooling profits in recent months.

LinkedIn functions in lot manner as Friendster does, by making connections between users by degrees (i. e. , Sean knows Arsala (1st degree); Arsala knows Sean (2nd degree); Sean knows Max (3rd degree)). Using such network, users can findbusiness contacts, for the sake of finding jobs or just networking, by following the stream of contacts. LinkedIn also presents public and private factions; for instance, alumni organizations are using LinkedIn to provide a platform for alumni. Flicker assists people to share photos with family, friends, colleagues and other acquaintances.

Basic accounts on flicker are free and a user can display upto 200 pictures. Like other social networking sites it offers user profiles and networks. Tagging helps people to recognize each other. Libraries and librarians have greatly benefited from this social site which helps them publicize their events, put up photos of library staff and compiling photos of historical significance. Besides, Flicker is a great tool for finding pictures for presentations. LibraryThing is also a media site where users can catalog their collections of books online.

Being a hit amongst librarians it is being used to catalog whole library collection where they can post information about new books and images as well. Books have their own tags which helps users to search for the desired ones. Youtube It is the widely used site for browsing, streaming, sharing & uploading videos ranging on all topics. Anyone can search for the favorite short movies, celebrity interviews, talk shows, documentaries, etc. There won’t be a topic where videos aren’t available on the site. It is also being used by libraries for educational purposes.



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