Online Communities

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Facebook has ruined online communities. Everyone has flocked to this medium that takes total control away from the community it is supposed to serve and puts that control into the hands of corporate sponsorships aka advertisers.

Back in the early days of the internet there were a multitude of communities. Each community, no matter the subject, had their own forum and chat. The forum was hosted on their domain website while chat was on IRC (Internet Relay Chat). Sometimes on a major IRC network, other times on a smaller one that had less crazy controls.

Fortunately some online communities keep their distance from Facebook and other so-called social media sites that force regulations that cannot be controlled by the community on them. These are the communities that will survive the eventual decline of social media sites.

With a forum, you can control who comes, what the see, and your privacy policy doesn’t change constantly forcing the users to change their settings every few months. It is a far better system. And if you have live chat and can’t find an IRC network to your liking, you can always toss up your own.

Social Media

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There are a ton of social media sites out on the internet now days. We have Pinterest, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Flickr, DeviantArt, Foursquare, Google+, Identi.ca, Instagram, and MySpace, just to name a few. There are many more than these.

Some are designed and targeted to specific interest groups while others are more generalized. Some have apps and file sharing while others are just text based. And everything in between.

I have accounts on several of the sites I listed above. Some are very inactive accounts as I haven’t looked at them or updated anything on them in years. And some social media sites I just visit without being a member and browse the postings without leaving any of my own.

The goal of social media is to have virtual interactions like we would have in real life. One-on-one or in groups settings. Be it games, general chit-chat, or business collaboration. Even blogs like this one are a form of social media as they encourage interaction between users and visitors.

The most common complaints against today’s social media sites are on the topics of privacy/security, censorship, and content ownership. And sometimes they are just a time suck. Facebook is hit quite often with these types of complaints.

But there are alternatives to these social media sites where the issues of privacy/security, censorship, and content ownership are greatly reduced. And these alternatives have been around far longer than the term “social media”. In fact social media has really been around since the infancy of the internet. And many of these ancient alternative social media forms are still in use today. Even by you right now.

E-mail (electronic mail) is the oldest form of social media. One-on-one and group conversations are all possible. Files can be shared, edited, and re-shared again. And it is generally very private. You don’t have to worry about another friend who wasn’t included accidentally seeing your e-mail post.

IRC (internet relay chat) is also an early form of social media. And like e-mail it’s still very much around. Even if you currently participate in some fancy web-based text chatroom it might be IRC driving it behind the scenes. With IRC you have a lot of control on who you let into your chat and who you do not.

Both IRC and e-mail predate webpages. There was no world wide web on the internet when people started with e-mail and they were chatting on IRC. The last early form of social media had it’s birth after the web came into being. It was the start of the internet as we know it today. These are online forums. With forums groups could interact with one another and individuals could also have private conversations as well. Pictures, documents, and other files could also be shared and downloaded just as they are today. And forum administrators could setup private boards that only it’s users could see.

So social media has been around for a long time. From the very birth of the internet. It’s outward forms have changed over the years but many of the oldest are still around. I am a member of a couple of online forums that date back more than 10 years. And they are still going on today. If you don’t care for the current incarnations of social media try the grandparents that started it all.