Everything new is old again – Web 2.0
Or, social networking, if you prefer.
Let’s face it, the net is social. The money that went into creating computer networks, and the Internet itself, may have been intended for specific purposes, but as soon it it was there people, being people, were being social.
As soon as the Internet was out of the test-bed (and probably before that), and even before it was known as the Internet, people were using email. A lot. For social things. What are the longest running Usenet “news”groups, and mailing lists of any types? Lists of jokes and discussions of science fiction. Social stuff. (Yeah, the sf geeks are pretty antisocial, by “normal” standards, but for them this stuff is the ultimate in sociability.)
So, what’s new? Oh, “social” networks have the users generate content? What do you think mailing lists are? OK, blogs make it a bit easier to search archives. But archives of mailing lists have been around for a while, too. (And this “easier” stuff is highly subjective. Some blogs can be pretty difficult to plow through in order to find content of interest.)
And what about the Internet itself? It’s the last word in user created content. The protocols and programs that run the net were primarily created by individual users, seeing something they wanted to do, and writing something that would do it. As Dave Clark famously put it, “We believe in: rough consensus and running code.”
Works pretty good, doesn’t it?