These days when you talk to someone about social networks, they think of Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare. And if you talk to a digital marketer, they will tell you of how best to monetize them and why social networks are such a new thing.
Internet veterans, the snobs that they are, will know that social networks and internet-based social media has a long illustrious history that began immediately when the Internet was born. After all, the public Internet was born out of human's desire to be more social.
When we finally got connected to the Internet in 1994, it didn't take me long before I got onto IRC, and off shot of BBS, one of the world's first truly global social networks. Back then we didn't have marketers and self-loathing social media consultants telling us why it was important to sell our personal brands, and we would talk about anything. There were no numbers to sell, no artificial metric to live by. It was raw. It was good.
If someone ask me about social media now, I immediately think of third grader social media gurus and their attempts at predicting the next big social network and how best they will go about and make money off it. I have seen social networks dismissed because there were no 'brand value'. There is nothing wrong with brands harnessing the power of social media, and to be fair, you would be stupid not to. But a social network does not live or die by brands. It lives and dies by their users.
Joe of Citizen Brando has kindly created a superb infographic (who doesn't like infographics?) compiling some of the many social networks that are prevalent through the history of the Internet. Do you remember half of them? Ever wish for a simpler time when we weren't just another number?