8. Community - social networks
Transcript

Recently, people seem to be talking more and more about online and ‘virtual’ communities. So I thought I’d find out what all the fuss is about.

Early ‘Chatrooms’ were an important part of the Internet’s ‘virtual community’ before more sophisticated programs came along.

‘Friends Reunited’, a popular social networking website, was created in the UK in 1999 and officially launched in July 2000. The original idea behind the site was that people could use it to track down old school friends. By October 2007, the scope of Friends Reunited had spread beyond finding former schoolmates to include workplaces, universities and the Armed Forces.

More recent social network sites include MySpace (which was created in 2003) and Facebook, which was developed for students in 2004 and opened up to the general public in September 2006.

Another huge online community is ‘Second Life’, a 3-D, Internet-based virtual world that was launched in 2003. According to the official Second Life website, by October 2007, the community had over 9 million registered ‘Residents’ from all over the globe.

The advanced technology used in Second Life lets people explore their surroundings, interact with one another in real-time and create brand new environments and objects. By the end of 2007, it had become so popular that both P Diddy and the comedian Jimmy Carr had performed virtual shows on Second Life!

Clearly, the Internet has become much more than a great source of information. Now it’s a place where you can make friends and interact with people who might live thousands of miles away.

With any exciting new technology, there are always people who will use it to cause trouble and harm. So it’s important to take care when communicating with people that you’ve never met before. It’s very easy to lie on the Internet and pretend to be someone else. Unfortunately, some people have had bad experiences because of this.

But as long as you’re careful when you’re communicating with people online and don’t go off on your own to meet people that you’ve never met before, there’s no reason to panic.

Homework and revision websites are also virtual communities where people can share information. The Internet is a great way of finding out lots of brilliant facts. Internet searches come up with loads of sites, but how do you know which ones to trust? Anyone can put information on the Internet and sometimes, it’s just not right!

Homework sites can be great, but there are loads of other really useful sources of information like documents, library books and newspapers to explore, so don’t just rely on what you find on the Internet next time you’re doing a project.

All this got me wondering; I’d be lost without Facebook and email, so how on earth would I have kept in touch with my friends before the Internet was invented?