Timeline Of Social Media Main Article

Continue reading. The real start of Social Media

Wikipedia defines Social Media as “media for social interaction, using highly accessible and scalable communication techniques. Social media is the use of web-based and mobile technologies to turn communication into interactive dialogue.” By this definition, the first online social media platform was Usenet, an early online bulletin board. Social interaction in this medium was a kind of structured anarchy, not for the faint of heart or thin of skin. Over the past twenty years or so, social media has grown and matured, as advances in technology have enabled increasingly sophisticated platforms.

Early Social Media Platforms

In 1995, theglobe.com launched as one of the first true social media sites, offering users the freedom to personalize their online experiences by publishing their own content and interacting with others with shared interests. The company weathered the dot com bubble and attempted to diversify its interests, finally folding in 2007; by that time other sites had taken over the social media space.

In 1999, MetaFilter launched as a “community blog” enabling users to share links and news items in a centralized location where members could debate and discuss them. At that point, comment systems were rare, and most social sharing took place between weblogs; bloggers would have to create a post in order to respond to other blogs, making the interactions inefficient and time-consuming.


Then, as now, social media served as a way to democratize the sharing of content, enabling individuals with limited online influence to reach a wide audience. Think of it as a democracy in which every participant is running for office, and voting on every other participant. On MetaFilter, stories would succeed based upon the number of comment replies; every story would get its turn on the front page, but users are limited to one post per day. The relatively small community (estimated to be about 38,700 active users in 2008) made Time Magazine’s 50 Best Websites list in 2009, but remains a quiet and almost refined environment in comparison with other, larger social media sites.

Democratizing the Web: Digg.com


As a site’s user base grows, the volume of stories submitted becomes much more difficult to moderate. In 2004, digg.com introduced a simple system of up and down voting, allowing members to “digg” or “bury” a story, then presenting the most popular stories on the front page. While the identities of those who “digg” a story are visible to others, “bury” votes are anonymous, a voting model which has created some controversy, as has Digg’s famous story popularity algorithm. Over the years, the formula for determining what stories reach the front page has been adjusted continually, usually in an attempt to prevent successful, power users from having too much of an advantage over newer, less popular users. This approach created its share of controversy as well, with established users feeling they were being penalized for consistently submitting quality content. Digg.com remains one of the highest-trafficked social media sites, known for its ability to crash servers with the volume of traffic resulting from a front page link.

Digg’s use of crowdsourcing to sort through a huge number of submissions caught on, and soon social media sites began to appear that used a similar voting model, but with important differences.

Reddit and Mixx: Rewarding the Power Users

Reddit.com launched in 2005, and was acquired by Condé Nast in 2006. Reddit offered a similar democratic voting system with a few important differences, the most significant among them being “karma” scores. Users accumulated karma from upvotes on their submissions and comments, and as the site grew, a more elaborate system of rewards was introduced. Users now earn a variety of awards for achievements like Best Link, Well-rounded, and Inciteful [pun intended] Comment. Users can submit links to a variety of subreddits, areas with a specific topic or focus which are created by the users, rather than dictated by the site’s creators. Several of these sections allow for “self” posts (personal stories or observations) or user-created content such as comics or photos. “IAMA/AMA” posts (I am a , Ask Me Anything”) feature interactive Q&A sessions with people that the user base finds interesting. This is an incredibly popular subreddit, with responses often running into the thousands. On many social websites, submitting one’s own content is often looked down upon for being self-promotional; rather than adopting this attitude, reddit simply gave that content its own place to be, and welcomed it.

Stories show how many up or down votes they have received, but not who voted either way. Submissions reach the front page based on a combination of overall positive votes, ratio of positive to negative votes, and the age of the submission. Comments are sorted, by default, by the popularity of the comment, and are threaded. Reddit relies on more than just democratic member voting/crowdsourcing to maintain high quality and prevent abuse; most of the subreddits have empowered moderators to enforce the rules.


Reddit has had an active role in several recent humanitarian efforts. In December 2010, the Christianity and Atheism subreddits came together to cross-promote fundraising drives for World Vision’s Clean Water Fund and Doctors without Borders. Reddit started the largest Secret Santa program in the world, with 17,543 participants in 2010 collectively spending $662,907.60 on gift purchases and shipping. Though they have been plagued with intermittent outages in recent weeks, reddit remains a vibrant community which stands out in terms of its members making human connections.

Mixx.com (which is now on hiatus following their acquisition by UberMedia) took a similar approach to rewarding its power users with and badges/awards for notable achievements. Users built up points based on positive votes on their submissions until they reached the rank of “Super Mixxer” which conveyed additional privileges, such as the ability to mark a story “breaking” and put it on the fast track to the home page.


By utilizing a system where users are recognized for their track record of contributions, this introduces an element of meritocracy to the democratic process, and encourages users to be mindful of their behavior. Reward systems also help build member loyalty, as it offers tangible and measurable feedback for their positive contributions to the community.

In 2010, Mixx launched an ambitious new format using channels, which aggregated real-time conversation from other social platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and even Digg. In early 2011, UberMedia acquired Mixx, and has stated that they plan to build on that model. “Mixx has done a tremendous job of pulling together content from around the Twittersphere and other social media platforms and assembling it in a way that makes it easier and more enjoyable for users to see things they wouldn’t otherwise be exposed to,” said Bill Gross, CEO of UberMedia. “By applying their technology and talent toward developing channels for our apps, we’ll be able to bring engaging content right to your phone alongside your timeline.” However it should be noted that as of this writing, Mixx has been non-functional for several months, long enough to be at serious risk of losing whatever momentum and loyalty they had built up.

Social Bookmarking: Users Become Curators

This variation on the social media sharing sites turns members into curators of content; the focus is on allowing the user to collect and share favorites. It offers users the ability to organize their bookmarks in categories and tag them by keyword, encouraging them to use the service as a personal organizer of sorts. Del.icio.us ranks links by the number of users who have bookmarked them rather than an up/down voting system, and presents them publicly on its home page. Though users can maintain private lists, the site’s focus is on collective sharing of tagged links, which other users can access by searching for a specific tag. Del.icio.us was a pioneer in the use of free-form public tagging. While there are no specific limitations on what terms can be used to tag an entry, the distributions of tags that describe different resources tend to converge over time, resulting in a simple shared vocabulary, or folksonomy. While this is less reliable than a controlled vocabulary (or taxonomy), it is more user-friendly for casual users, and more flexible in the ability to introduce new concepts and subject matter without having to wait for the framework to catch up.


A quick glance at the hotlist reveals that del.icio.us has its issues with spam submissions. By only measuring popularity based on the number of links and not offering a down-vote or other crowdsourced method of filtering out bad content, a user looking at the list of most popular items is likely to find links to “mom’s weird weight loss secrets” and other links of dubious value. This is something that will need to be addressed more fully in the future if its results are to remain valuable. Del.icio.us was recently sold by Yahoo to Avos Systems, which will take over managing the service in mid-2011.

Recommendation Systems: StumbleUpon

Stumbleupon.com does not offer a public repository of links; it requires a user to join or connect via Facebook or Twitter in order to view the collections of links others have shared (though these shared items are often posted on Facebook or Twitter in order to entice new users to sign up). Once they join, members are encouraged to identify their areas of interest, and to explore sites that have been identified by other users as relevant to those interests. StumbleUpon derives its name from the act of “stumbling” or clicking a button that leads to a random website. Users can give a thumbs-up or down to stories and then quickly move on; these recommendations affect the popularity of the sites in the system and also help the system to refine further offerings for the user based on what else they have “thumbed-up.”

StumbleUpon superimposes an unobtrusive toolbar that stays with the user during their surfing. This results in a very compelling user experience for the Stumbler, with results getting cumulatively better as the system learns the user’s preferences. The system “knows” me well enough to serve up the fascinating bit of cutting-edge (and fun) web development shown below on my first click; StumbleUpon is widely known for its addictive properties.


The major disadvantage of StumbleUpon’s approach (from the standpoint of social media marketing) is that the traffic it generates tends to be single page-views, as the user is constantly tempted by “just one more click.” Social media users as a whole are prone to be easily distracted, but that distraction increases dramatically in the presence of a persistent and inviting “Stumble” button.


All theses steps and "breakthroughs" in the world of social media were just rehearsing for the big opening; the main event.
Continue reading. The real start of Social Media

1- Social Media:Past, present, and future : Patel, Sujan. Social Media: Past, Present, and Future" singlegrain (2011)


2- http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_media[[/bibliography]]