below i have attached everything
What is a Reflection Paper?
Reflection papers are written expressions of how a specific article or set of articles has shaped
your understanding of a given topic. The reflection papers are required to tie together all the
assigned readings, exploring how to complement or refute each other.
They should take the form of a brief critical essay. Quality over quantity counts! However, at
the graduate level you are expected to properly cite your in-text sources as well as provide a
proper cited sources list at the end of each assignment. Points will be deducted for improper
citation format and grammar errors. Be sure to proofread your work before your final
You can explore many styles of writing reflection papers, especially depending on the topic of
the week, but you can organize your views around explaining questions, such as:
• What is the overarching theme that ties the readings together?
• What is their significance to the discipline of strategic communication?
• How reading the assigned works have shaped your views?
• Why are these articles important, and how they contribute your understanding of the
Present the most critical issues from the readings, such as:
• What contrasting positions can be taken?
• What do you think about the core argument of the paper?
• How do you support your idea? Etc.
Reflection Paper format when submitting your assignments:
• Include your name
• Follow the APA style formatting
• Double spaced
• Length: Refer to each reflection paper assignment for details
• Properly cite your in-text sources and provide a works cited page, if you use someone
else’s thoughts, ideas or words!
• Points will be deducted for improper citation format and grammar errors
• Reflection Paper 1 – 10 points
• Reflection Paper 2 – 10 points
• Reflection Paper 3 – 10 points
• Reflection Paper 4 – 10 points
NOTE: CONTINUE READING TO SEE A SAMPLE REFLECTION PAPER OUTLINE AND AN ACTUAL
Reflection Paper Sample Outline
The first section of the outline is the introduction, which identifies the subject and gives an
overview of your reaction to it. The introduction paragraph ends with your thesis statement,
which identifies whether your expectations were met and what you learned. The thesis
statement serves as the focal point of your paper. It also provides a transition to the body of the
paper and will be revisited in your conclusion.
The body of your paper identifies the three (or more, depending on the length of your paper)
major points that support your thesis statement. Each paragraph in the body should start with a
topic sentence. The rest of each paragraph supports your topic sentence. Keep in mind that a
transition sentence at the end of each paragraph creates a paper that flows logically and is easy
to read. When creating the outline, identify the topic sentence for each paragraph, and add the
supporting statements, evidence, and your own experiences or reactions to the subject
The conclusion wraps up your essay, serving as the other bookend in stating and proving your
thesis statement. In outlining the conclusion, identify the thesis statement and add the main
points from the body paragraphs as a recap. Don’t add new information to the conclusion and
be sure to identify the closing statement of your reflection paper.
A sample outline format should reflect the main points of your paper, from start to finish:
A. Identify and explain subject
B. State your reaction to the subject
2. Did you change your mind?
3. Did the subject meet your expectations?
4. What did you learn?
C. Thesis Statement
II. Body Paragraph 1
A. Topic Sentence
1. Supporting evidence 1
2. Supporting evidence 2
3. Supporting evidence 3
III. Body Paragraph 2
A. Topic Sentence
1. Supporting evidence 1
2. Supporting evidence 2
3. Supporting evidence 3
IV. Body Paragraph 3
A. Topic Sentence
1. Supporting evidence 1
2. Supporting evidence 2
3. Supporting evidence 3
A. Recap thesis statement
B. Recap Paragraph 1
C. Recap Paragraph 2
D. Recap Paragraph 3
E. Conclusion statement
Reflection Paper Example
Country Music: The Second Time Around
I used to despise country music. I hated everything about it: the slow background instrumentals,
the corny lyrics, the big hair. I didn’t know who the singers were and felt like I had nothing in
common with them. I owned a dog, but I didn’t know anyone with a pickup truck. I had had my
heart broken, but I didn’t cry any tears into my beer. Adding to the misery was the fact that I had
a part-time college job at a radio station that played nothing but country music. Fast forward 20
years, and country music didn’t sound so bad any more. Did I change, or did the music change?
The answer was both: the music improved, and I gained some life experience.
As a college student, I had only lived in the Northeast, spending my entire life in Connecticut. As
a bedroom community of New York City, my hometown was quiet yet somewhat sophisticated.
There were small boutiques, family-owned seafood restaurants, and a couple of good
community theaters that attracted some top-flight talent in the region. Everyone looked to
Manhattan for their cultural inspiration, and ranchers, cowboy hats, and open spaces were
absent from the music and general lifestyle. Western life was a continent away, and I didn’t think
I could stand being a part of it.
Following college, I had the opportunity to move to San Francisco, still a sophisticated city that
had no open spaces or ranches. Once I crossed the Bay Bridge and started exploring the East
Bay, I discovered a bit of ranch life. Just a few miles away from my son’s school were several
ranches, their locations made even more obvious by the ranchers who strode into the town’s
smoothie store, wearing their 10-gallon hats, well-worn cowboy boots, and spurs. They were
real spurs and a necessary part of their job. Surely, I thought, he was lacking in sophistication. I
was wrong again. In talking with him, I learned he had a graduate degree in animal husbandry
from a major university and ran his ranch at a profit, using as much technology to manage it as
he needed. Myth number two was busted. Western life was not a bucolic way to hide from the
real world. It was at the core of our world. This quiet rancher provided a good portion of the local
meat for the region, a complex and ongoing responsibility.
The last barrier to fall was revisiting country music itself. Granted, the genre had fused with rock
and pop quite a bit, which made the transition a bit easier for me. The lyrics were modern, the
rhythm was more infectious, and the singers were my age or younger. My journey to musical
Damascus was completed when stuck in a traffic jam in Berkeley. I wanted out. I wanted some
fresh air, and I switched from the news station to the country station. I even opened my driver’s
window, unashamed to share my musical choice with the hipsters of the college town.
I became curious about the roots of country music and started exploring the legacy singers:
Johnny Cash, Waylon Jennings, June Carter, Merle Haggard. Their songs, which I had spurned
and muted while I worked at that country station in the late 1970s, had new meaning. I had met
the people they sang about, saw the land, and had gained a new perspective and respect for
the people who live in that wonderful, vast portion of the United States that stretches under the
big skies of the West. Not only did they sing about Western life, but they also sang about
everyone: people who hurt, loved, lost, and exulted in their lives. While the music had changed,
I had changed more.
In re-examining my view of country music, I had to take the long road. A change in residence,
new experiences with people who represented the core of country music’s meaning and
message and reopening my mind all played a part in awakening a true appreciation for the
genre. It was no longer corny; it was real. More than simply allowing me to add to my musical
repertoire, it allowed me to be unafraid to take a second look at other preconceptions I carried.
Remember – if you use someone else’s thoughts or words, you must properly cite your
A History of the Social Web
September 26, 2007 at 14:28
[Trebor] in collaboration, politics, creative commons, cultural context providers, Social Web, Ciitizen_journalism,
Participation, Blogging, social networking, social media, tagging, wikipedia, social software, folksonomy, ethics, fandom,
commons, identity, network culture, art, activism, web 2.0, academic, history
This is a draft of a chapter and not a finished essay. Citations will be added. The
slides of two presentations about this material are available: part 1, part 2. You
can also download a .pdf of a linear time line (zoom in).
Please send corrections or comments to [email protected] (updated last: October
This is a cross-cultural, critical history of social life on the Internet. It captures
technical, cultural, and political events that influenced the evolution of computer-
assisted person-to-person communication via the net. In difference to other
historical accounts, this essay acknowledges the role of grassroots movements and
does not solely focus on mainstream culture with all its mergers, acquisitions, sales
and markets, and the (mostly male) geeks, engineers, scientists, and garage
entrepreneurs who implemented their dreams in hardware and software. This is a
critical history as it traces the changing nature of labor and typologies of those who
create value online as much as it searches for changing approaches toward control,
privacy, and intellectual property. It shows strategies for direct social change based
on the technologies and practices which already exist.
Emphasizing the role of women whenever possible, this history shows that the
interests of those who used the Net as social platform shaped it in the interplay of
military, scientific, entrepreneurial, activist, artistic, and altruistic agendas. The
evolution of the Social Web was driven by fear, desire (to be with others),
and fandom. By no means exclusively an American story, it shows instances in
which users succeeded when striving for open access, jointly negotiating with
Networked sociality did, of course, not start with the Internet. Tom Standage in
“The Victorian Internet” compares the history of the telegraph to that of the net by
talking about geographically distributed telegraph operators who were dating each
other after hours. With a telegraph cable connecting the United States and Europe,
communication across the Atlantic was easy, people believed in the end of all
wars. Standage describes the information overload and widespread euphoria that
were associated with the Internet, already occurring with the implementation of the
Neither the telegraph nor the telephone were the only means of networked
communication leading up to computer-assisted person-to-person communication
via the net but this pre-history is extensively covered in the literature on the history
This essay now “fastforwards” through history, tracing main ideas that were crucial
in the evolution of networked sociality online. Famously, in 1945 the American
computing pioneer Vannevar Bush outlined the idea of hyperlinked pages and the
“Memex,” (knowledge on call), which were fundamental for the World Wide Web.
Bush conceived of the “Memex” as “an enlarged intimate supplement to [man’s]
memory.” Four years later, in his novel Heliopolis, the German
author Ernst Jünger dreams up the communication medium “Phonophor,” which
he describes as connecting everybody to everybody else, enabling a permanent,
technically facilitated forum that also replaces the newspaper, library, and
Such anticipation of interaction and participatory cultures were also present in the
arts. John Cage’s three-movement piece 4’33” premiered in 1952, given by David
Tudor at Woodstock in upstate New York. This widely known and often cited
piece, performed for four minutes and thirty three seconds was related to Cage’s
experience at Harvard University’s isolation chamber where he was able to listen to
the sound of the blood in his body circulating. It is widely known that Cage
considered the quotidian sounds, the sounds that surround us, as music. The
audience in performances of 4’33” is activated and unintentionally becomes part of
the piece in so far as the noises that they themselves are making become part of the
work. In 1957 Allan Kaprow first coined the term “happening” and referred to it as
a performance, event or situation. Happenings were meant to be art, often lacked a
narrative, could take place anywhere and sought to involve the audience.
Wikipedia cites Kaprow’s piece 18 Happenings in 6 Parts as the first happening.
According to the art historian Claire Bishop
“[A]ctivation; authorship; community — are the most frequently cited motivations
for almost all artistic attempts to encourage participation in art since the 1960s.”
Also in 1957 an event took place that sent shock waves through the United States
administration and its effect on the American psyche can be compared to Pearl
Harbor, Hiroshima, or the attacks of September 11, 2001. On October 4th, the
USSR launched Sputnik (a 180-pound aluminum ball) the world’s first artificial
satellite. The US American public feared annihilation through a military strike
from a Soviet satellite and the government promptly set up the Defense Advanced
Research Projects Agency (DARPA) at the Pentagon.
At DARPA, J.C.R. Licklider, called “Lick” by his colleagues, provided the vision
for networking that would lead to the development of ARPANET, the forerunner
of the modern Internet. In his essay The Computer as Communication Device,
Licklider anticipated real-time interactivity:
“We believe that we are entering into a technological age, in which we will be able
to interact with the richness of living information — not merely in the passive way
that we have become accustomed to using books and libraries, but as active
participants in an ongoing process, bringing something to it through our interaction
with it, and not simply receiving something from it by our connection to it.”
The concept of the hyperlink, originated by Vannevar Bush, was technically
implemented in 1960 by visionary Ted Nelson who proposed Xanadu, a global
network and a place for literary memory. Occupied with the need for a
communication system that could withstand a projected large-scale (possibly
nuclear) attack by the Soviet Union,Paul Baran, proposed a distributed network in
his essay “On Distributed Communication Networks” (1964). In this document
Baran demonstrated that sections of a distributed network could be destroyed while
the message would still reach its destination. His “distributed network”
and Leonard Kleinrock’s essay on packet switching (1960), were key stepping
stones on the way to the invention of the Internet. In 1962, Baran describes packet
switching:”all the nodes in the network would be equal in status to all other nodes,
each node with its own authority to originate, pass, and receive messages.” The
messages themselves would be divided into packets, each packet separately
addressed. If there is a traffic jam at one point in the network, it can be re-routed.
The mathematician Kleinrock pointed out (somewhat jokingly) that he can
guarantee that an email message, for example, would reach its destination but he
cannot promise that it will be read. While the distributed network called for an
expensive hardware system infrastructure, it was the way to go.
In the early 1960’s PLATO, a crucial system in the development of pre-Internet
networked communication was developed at the University of Illinois at Urbana.
More than ten years later, Doug Brown wrote a software program called
Talkomatic, which supported chat among PLATO users.
Email, Standardization, and Protocols
In 1965, Fernando José Corbató and his colleagues at MIT developed a program to
allowed individual users to swap messages on one single computer. This was the
first email but it was not sent via the Internet. In 1968, ARPA asked for a quotation
to build a network of four Interface Message Processors. Instead of the major
communication companies like IBM or AT&T, it was the brave people at the
Boston-based company BBN who lived up to the challenge in nine months.
Vint Cerf (today Vice President of Google) and Bob Kahn, one of the BBN
researchers, wrote and helped establishTCP/IP as the protocol on which the
Internet runs in 1968. The campaigns related to the establishment of protocols that
run on the Internet were intense. The US government, for example, preferred
another protocol but TCP/IP was non-proprietary and public domain and thus
spread anarchically like a wild fire across small networks and in the end it would
have been to expensive to switch to another standard.
TCP, or “Transmission Control Protocol,” converts messages into streams of
packets at the source and then reassembles them back into messages at the
destination while IP, or “Internet Protocol,” handles the addressing, seeing to it that
packets are routed across multiple nodes and even across multiple networks with
multiple standards. The establishment of an overarching standard for the Internet
was crucial. The Net would have been defunct if machines would have attempted
to communicate with each other in different languages. It is similar to a fax
machine that obviously cannot communicate with another location if the person
there does not own a fax machine herself. In 1993, the science fiction author Bruce
Sterling talked about the Internet’s “anarchy” saying that“It’s rather like the
‘anarchy’ of the English language. Nobody rents English, and nobody owns
English. As an English-speaking person, it’s up to you to learn how to speak
English properly and make whatever use you please of it…” TCP/IP offered such a
common standard (not unlike the English language) that would allow different
networks to connect and form one big network: the Inter-net.
Tools to the People– The Birth of the Net
In 1969 ARPA commissions research into networking and the first node of
ARPANET went live at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), which was
one of the networks that led to today’s Internet. At a time when hippies dominated
the campus, the first machine arrived at UCLA in a military, fridge-sized container,
moveable by helicopter. This first Los Angeles node was then connected to UC
Santa Barbara, Stanford University and then the University of Utah. Many
universities were apparently not too exited about the ability of sharing material.
(“They had their own fish to fry.”) This event of connecting these four nodes is
commonly credited as the birth of today’s Internet. Kleinrock was so moved by this
moment that he wrote a poem about it.
“We cautiously connected and the bits began to flow. The pieces really functioned
just why I still don’t know. Messages are moving pretty well by Wednesday morn.
All the rest is history, packet switching had been born.”
In the meantime there had been attempts to create networks similar to ARPANET,
for example the Cycladesproject in France, but none of succeeded in the long run.
In 1969, the Whole Earth Catalog was first published by a group of founders, most
notably Stewart Brand, with the idea of bringing tools to people to build a better
society, which was seen as an alternative to joining the crusade to help a big cause;
a strategy, which had failed according to one of the Whole Earth Catalog
editors, Howard Rheingold.
The First Wireless Network
Norm Abramson, a passionate surfer and professor at the University of Hawaii,
was keen to know what the waves were like on the other islands. Therefore he
developed a radio network that would allow for communication, using a protocol
telling the computers how to share the airwaves. Launched in 1970, using radio
waves rather than telephone lines to network computers, ALOHANET was the first
wireless network involving computers.ALOHANET and many other small
networks were later linked up to ARPANET.
Such wireless networks are an inexpensive and fast way to connect to the Internet
in countries and geographic regions with a poor communication infrastructure
(e.g., most of the economic developing world).
In 1971, Ray Tomlinson (b. 1941) also at BBN, wrote a piece of software that
allowed messages to be sent between computers and one year later he sent the first
email via the Internet. To separate the user from his or her machine in the email
address he introduced the @ sign. While Samuel Morse’ first telegraph message
read “What Hath God Wrought,” Ray Tomlinson’s first email said something
In the same year Michael Hart founded Project Gutenberg (PG), the “oldest digital
library built on volunteer efforts to digitize, archive, and distribute cultural
works.” The project is the largest single collection of free electronic books, or
eBooks, online. Projects like this show that already the beginnings of the Internet
were marked by military and academic research agendas as well as personal
conversations via email and altruistic initiatives like Hart’s Project Gutenberg.
By 1975 most of what happened on ARPANET was email, which was really not in
sync with ARPANET’s explicit research focus but it demonstrated the desire of
people, given the opportunity, to be social, to talk to each other.
Two years later, the first mailing list, called MsgGroup, was created for
ARPANET. Ethan Zuckerman reports that the second email on that list was an
apology by the system’s administrator for doing such a lousy job in keeping up
with everybody’s requests.
In 1979 Kevin MacKenzie e-mailed his fellow subscribers at MsgGroup, with a
suggestion to put some emotion back into the dry text medium of e-mail. He
proposed “emoticons” starting with -) MacKenzie’s proposal caused widespread
outrage but emoticons caught on. The eyes were added years later by a professor at
Carnegie Mellon University :–)
In 1977, the term ‘groupware’ was coined and while the Internet was still mainly a
research network, Richard Bartle and Roy Trubshaw created the first MUD (Multi-
User Dungeon), later leading to MMORPGs (e.g., Massively Multiplayer Online
Role-Playing Games like World of Warcraft). MUDs are multi-player computer
game that combine features of role-playing games with chat rooms.
January 1978 is legendary for Chicago’s Great Blizzard that buried the city under
snow for weeks. Stuck in his house, it was then and there that Ward
Christensen wrote the first BBS, called CBBS. At that time, many people did not
have access to the Internet. Instead, they dialed in to CBBS directly via a
modem. According to Wikipedia, a “BBS is a computer system running software
that allows users to dial into the system over a phone line (or Telnet) and, using a
terminal program, perform functions such as downloading software and data,
uploading data, reading news, and exchanging messages with other users.” Users
had to take turns accessing the system, each hanging up when done to let someone
else have access. Nevertheless, the system was seen as very useful and ran for
many years. It also inspired the creation of many other bulletin board systems and
soon, the first ASCii artappeared on BBSs and also porn could be purchased on
BBS’s like Rusty n Edie’s. In the early 1980s The Fido Network of Bulletin Board
Systems started up, which allowed users to post to a network of linked up BBS’s.
Messages were sent from one BBS to the next once a day.
For the Internet to become popular it still needed Douglas Engelbart to invent the
computer mouse and there needed to be PCs in people’s homes. Without that, the
Internet would have remained a network solely connecting supercomputers at big
research centers. It also needed a common standard that would allow the many
small networks to talk to each other. If you call up somebody in Brazil and you
have a perfect connection, it is still useless unless you speak Portuguese (or the
person on the other end speaks English).
In 1978, two Duke University graduates and one student from the University of
North Carolina created USENETnewsgroups, a system that copies files between
computers without central control. These message sharing systems that exchanged
emails electronically around the world were the precursors of peer-to-peer
applications likeGnutella or discussion boards such as GoogleGroups. Early
mailing lists and newsgroups, often organized by topic, constituted first networked
In 1980 the L’Organisation européenne pour la recherche nucléaire (CERN) in
Geneva, Switzerland, hired the independent British researcher and programmer
Tim Berners-Lee on a six-month contract. All three references that Berners-Lee
provided to CERN, described him as “intense, efficient, and creative.” Tim
Berners-Lee proposed a project based on the concept of hypertext that would
facilitate the sharing and updating of information among researchers. In many
ways, CERN was an unlikely host for such a project. It was a place where
scientists were known to do incomprehensible things with tiny bits of matter, with
labs specializing in the most esoteric form of research imaginable. There was no
corporate research agenda but the philosophy of CERN was research out of pure
curiosity, which according to CERN, led to all great inventions throughout human
Establishing User Expectations
In 1981 the first IBM personal computer shipped with a computer mouse.
Throughout the 1980s PCs entered the homes in the United States and computer
manufacturers pushed proprietary protocols but this ill-advised effort failed
quickly. In the same year BITNET was released as a collaboration between Ira
Fuchs at the City University of New York and Greydon Freeman at Yale
University. BITNET’s main features were email and listserv but most
importantly BITNET set expectations for free access and openness. BITNET,
which initially stood for “Because It’s There” and later for “Because It’s
Time,” charged by bandwidth, which meant that once you paid for a line, how
much you use it was up to you. Others tried to establish a pay by byte system.
In 1983 the American National Science Foundation (NSF) constructed a university
network backbone. A year later, the term Computer-Supported Collaborative Work
(CSCW) was established in the context of a workshop and out of it was a spirit of
collaboration that led Stewart Brand and Larry Brilliant to found The Well, one of
the first community bulletin boards in 1985. The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link (The
Well) is one of the oldest virtual communities in continuous operation. To postto
The Well, Brand used a networked PC on his houseboat in Sasalito (CA), claiming
that he founded The Well in order to experience communal living without actually
having to move into a community. Well members started many discussion boards
but the most popular one was dedicated to The Grateful Dead. Some “dead heads”
bought computers just to be on The Well. In his book “Virtual Community.
Homesteading on the Electronic Frontier” (1993) Howard Rheingold uses The
Well as a prime example of a “virtual community” where people meet, collaborate,
argue, and support each other emotionally.
Experiments in Collaboration and the Monetization of Virtual Communities
In 1984 the French philosopher Francois Lyotard and Thierry Chaput became the
cultural context-providers for the exhibition “Les Immateriaux” at the Centre
Georges Pompidou in Paris. They invited thirty artists to collaboratively respond to
fifty terms related the topic of the “immaterial.” First, the invited cultural
producers, mostly authors, were ask to write a few, brief definitions of the
provided words on paper to be collected and saved on a “text saving system” that
was given to them. The authors were then networked with each other through these
devices, which are not further specified in the documentation. The participants
could now decide at free will to contradict, add, or change the existing definitions.
Lyotard and Chaput pointed out that they were mainly interested in the way, in
which this collaborative writing changed the experience of the act of writing itself.
This could be seen as precursor to many collaborative writing projects but it also
relates to the writing process on today’s free encyclopedia Wikipedia.
In 1987 Lucas Film’s Habitat launched for the Commodore 64 computer as an early
and technologically influential online role-playing game and the first attempt to
monetize a large-scale virtual community by aiming to profit from charging for its
messaging services. In the same year Robert Johansen published his book
“Groupware: Computer Support for Business Teams,” which popularized the term
groupware, which, just like Habitat, demonstrates the emergence of networked
The Web as an Altruistic Contribution to Society
In 1988 Internet Relay Chat (IRC) was invented, allowing for seamless real-time
exchanges. One year later, Tim Berners-Lee and the Belgian Robert Cailliau, while
working at CERN, conceptualized the World Wide Web by submitting
“WorldWideWeb: Proposal for a HyperText Project.” Berners-Lee contributed the
pillars of the Web:HTML (HyperText Markup Language), URL (Uniform
Resource Locator), and HTTP (HyperText Transfer Protocol). Had Tim Berners
Lee not provided HTTP as a free and open standard, it is unlikely that the Web
would exist in its current form today. This unifying interface of the World Wide
Web made it considerably easier for people to form groups on the Internet. At this
point in time, Berners-Lee described the World Wide Web “as an altruistic, non-
proprietary, vendor-neutral contribution to society.”
In the late 1980s networking took first steps outside academia
and LambdaMOO became a popular online community. It is the oldest and most
active MOO, still in operation in 2007. (A MOO is a text-based online virtual
reality system to which multiple users are connected at the same time.)
Tom Grundner, an assistant professor for family medicine worked on making
community health information public and consequently became the founder of the
Cleveland Free-Net, which was influential in the development of community-
oriented free-nets, which were censorship-resistant networks.
The early 1990s were marked by the increasing use of the term “social software” in
expert circles. At the same time, the number of European Internet sites grew from
30,000 in 1990 to 500,000 only two years later.
By 1990 ARPANET was closed down and transferred to NSFNET (National
Science Foundation) and Vint Cerfwrote a long “Requiem for the ARPANET”
which ended with
“It was the first, and being the first, as best,
But now we lay it down to ever rest.”
At the same time, the libertarian, retired Wyoming cattle rancher and member of
The Well, John Perry Barlow, together with John Gilmore and Mitch Kapor,
founded the Electronic Frontier Foundation (EFF), a US-American non-profit
advocacy and legal organization dedicated to preserving free speech in the context
of today’s digital age. In 2004, the EFF took on the Tor project, which is a free
software system enabling its users to communicate anonymously on the Internet.
Tor is used in authoritarian regimes such as China to help bloggers and human
rights activists to anonymize their web browsing and publishing as well as instant
In 1991, The University of Minnesota launched Gopher, the “infoserver that can
deliver text, graphics, audio, and multimedia to clients,” which became rapidly
popular. While it is unclear how “multimedia” could have been in range for
gopher, its goal was to function as an improved form of anonymous FTP, with
features similar to that of the World Wide Web. Now that the Web as overarching
interface was established, Internet enthusiasts started to believe in a world without
borders. In this context Benjamin Anderson’s book “Imagined Communities”
became influential. He describes the nation state as an imagined community that is
mainly constructed by print media. This world without borders later turned out to
be, for the very most part, an illusion. Many social networking sites that will
emerge later, will be bound to the nation state. Sites like Orkut or Fotolog will be
very specific to a particular country and age group and gender. The Internet is
everything but borderless.
For a brief period, gopher and the World Wide Web (WWW) were competing
systems. In 1993, however, CERN projected that the World Wide Web would be
without fees: free for anyone to use. Two months later, gopher announced that it
was no longer free to use, which pushed users away from gopher to the World
Wide Web. The WWW was public domain, which was an additional reason for its
success. But the popularization of the Web was sealed on 1993. In 1992 Marc
Andreessen (b. 1971), a local 6’4” undergraduate student at the University of
Illinois, working on minimum wage at night, used the protocols for the WWW
from CERN to create a more “human interface for the World Wide Web.” Together
with other students, Andreessen created the Mosaic browser, which was launched
in 1993. The browser made the Web accessible to the non-technical person. This
was the single, most significant milestone in the popularization of the Web. In
1993, the WWW experienced a 350 percent growth rate, mainly in United States.
In 1994 Andreessen, after leaving the University of Illinois, was surprised to find
out that the university did not approve off a commercial spin-off of the former
student project. Therefore the small student team founded Netscape, and re-wrote
the Mosaic code to market their browser. A year and a half later, Mosaic had 1.5
million users. Early versions of Mosaic had a collaboration feature that allowed
annotations, which could be shared with a well-defined team of collaborators.
Experiments with Internet Freedom
It must have been the utopian dreams that were attached to the Internet that
made Peter Lamborn Wilson’s bookTemporary Autonomous Zone, published in
1991, so widely read. Wilson (a.k.a. Hakim Bey, b. 1945) used historical examples
to describe the tactic of shaping temporary spaces that elude formal structures of
control. The essay inspired Internet pioneers to experiment with the freedoms
afforded by Internet.
In 1991, the NSF allowed commercial use of the Internet, opening the gates for a
big bang. Among its first users was the porn industry with first typed interactions
with models like “Hello baby.” Quiet geek utopia slowly turned into place of
ecstatic market (investment) euphoria, which also led to a wave of amateur users
who used email and accessed web pages. In 1995, NSF decommissioned the
backbone, leaving the Internet a self-supporting system. The one of the earliest
Internet entrepreneurs was the San Francisco-based activist and digital
librarian Brewster Kahle (b. 1960) who was part of the company WAIS in 1992.
“I wanted to prove that you could make an Internet company,” he said. After
selling WAIS to AOL in May 1995 for $15 million, Kahle and co-founder Gilliat
founded the Internet Archive and then Alexa. The temporary wealth created by the
dotcom bubble was responsible for several altruistic projects later. Kahle’s
Archive.org is only one example. Ebay founder Pierre Omidyar as well as
Amazon.com’s Jeff Bezos have both launched several large-scale altruistic
projects. But there is an additional positive effect of the dotcom bubble. For a short
period, a section of the techno-workforce experienced a new kind of work
conditions, which were mostly favorable in the sense that the hierarchies in a
dotcom company were less pronounced and the work environment was more
casual. While many of these knowledge workers lost their job, they took this
experience with them when entering the job market again.
The Woodstock of the Web
In 1994 one could order pizza online and the World Wide Web had an explosive
almost 350,000 percent expansion rate that year. CERN decides to convene the
first web conference in Geneva that year and it was so well attended that not even
CERN employees could get in. The conference was later called the Woodstock of
the Web and Tim Berners-Lee became a kind of rock star. He mainly outlined a
long list of problems that need to be addressed so that “a year or two from we don’t
have to announce that starting next Tuesday you have to put a 7 in front of the
URL.” However, despite this success Berners-Lee could not get sufficient funding
from CERN and Europe is administratively too divided to quickly address issues of
standardization and commit the necessary funds rapidly. This led Berners-Lee,
after much trying, to move the W3 Consortium to MIT in Boston (with a strong
emphasis, however, on the establishment of an European branch of it).
In 1993 De Digitale Stad launched as a project by De Balie and XS4ALL. Its goal
was the creation of a publicly accessible (free-net) system that would bring politics
and citizens together in an online community. Dutch media critic Geert
Lovink referred to De Digitale Stad (“The Digital City”) as “a social experiment in
Internet freedom.“ It was the attempt of staying independent in an increasingly
In the same year, 1993, Peter Steiner published a cartoon in The New Yorker that
would be quoted from then on.”On the Internet, nobody knows you’re a dog.” The
popularity of this cartoon shows a widespread interest in identity issues in relation
to the Internet at the time. A year later, Justin Hall (b. 1974 in Chicago), is an
American freelance journalist, then a Swarthmore College student, who started a
web-based diary called Justin’s Links from the Underground, which offered link
highlighting (not unlike BoingBoing) and excentric, journaling (e.g., his
exploration of “sexuality as a sacred place”). This web-based diary is often cited as
the first weblog. Here, based on the feeling of an unlimited right to reveal, Justin
wrote about his most intimate experiences, which frequently included delicate
details about his (girl)friends, which made many people uncomfortable. They felt
that he intruded upon their privacy.
These early years of the Web established it as a site of self-exploration (“I want to
feel what it’s like to have a web page of my own.”) and the discovery of new
channels of social connection. The Web was a novel site where one could expose
oneself completely while still being very safe. But this was also the moment
that ego surfing and concerns about computer addiction emerged and new concepts
of (disembodied) friendship were problematized. Some of these issues will remain
relevant even a decade later but digital identity will be far more evolved, leaving
far fewer “dogs” unrecognized on the Net.
In the same year Amazon.com was founded, spurred by what Jeff Bezos “refers to
as his ‘regret minimization framework,’ i.e. his effort to fend off late-in-life regret
for not staking a claim in the Internet gold rush.” Amazon’s online launch took
place a year later, offering users the ability to write reviews and consumer guides.
The artist Douglas Davis who created the The World’s First Collaborative
Sentence in 1994 used a similar interface for web-based self-publishing. Through
simple online submission, users could add to an ongoing sentence but were not
allowed to end it.
In 1995 one fifth of all Internet traffic is caused by WWW, taking over ftp’s
leading role. Microsoft woke up to the Internet that year with Bill gates talking
about the “title wave of the Internet.” Coming in late, Microsoft decided to “give
away” its Internet Explorer (IE) for “free,” which led to anti-trust law suits for anti-
competitive behavior. But “free,” already then was not cost free as users had to
have Windows, Microsoft’s platform, to run IE.
The searchable user classifieds site Craigslist and the auction site eBay started up
that year. Craigslist stated on their site: “Ultimately, the information you submit to
Craigslist belongs to you. You own your own words.” “[I]n every case Craig [of
abuse] will contact the abusive party and ask them to cease.” (Dec 29, 1999) This
is one of the first statements of an online service showing an awareness of
ownership issues related to user-generated content.
The Rise of Social Networking Websites
In 1994, the dating site Match.com launched and social search
site Classmates.com started in order to link up schoolmates, work colleagues and
military personnel alike. While the American Classmates.com is often referred to
as first social networking site, it was only months later before the Swedish social
networking site Lunarstormlaunched (under a different name). Lunarstorm has 1,2
million users in 2007. This is only one example that shows that the history of the
Social Web is by no means an all American story.
In 1994, the mailing list <Nettime> was created in the “effort to formulate an
international, networked discourse that neither promotes a dominant euphoria (to
sell products) nor continues the cynical pessimism.” This suggested balance
between utopia and dystopia is no less relevant today than it was back then. In
addition, The Thing (TT), an Internet Service Provider and media center started up
in New York, Berlin, Vienna, Switzerland and the Netherlands. The New York
“branch” of TT was spearheaded by Wolfgang Staehle and the BBS of The
Thing, attracted an early cultural community discussing emerging net art as well as
politics. Staehle generously supported the work of many artists with free server
space. In 2007 TT, NYC moved its servers to Berlin.
Also in 1994 Ward Cunningham started developing WikiWikiWeb and installed it
on the Internet a year later, “clearing the way” for Wikipedia down the road. The
core idea of WikiWikiWeb was that many users could collaboratively edit a
webpage. The name WikiWiki (“fast, fast”) was inspired by the sign on an express
bus to the international airport in Honolulu.
In 1995 the sheer ecstasy of the emerging dotcom industry pushed the development
of new services forward while simultaneously creating a group of exuberant dot-
commers. Several authors commented on that moment. Arthur Kroker and Michael
Weinstein, for example, publish “Datatrash” in which they claim that the digital
communications arena is no longer democratic and that it has been taken over by a
virtual class. In the same yearRichard Barbrook and Andy Cameron describe what
they call the Californian Ideology as
“a new faith [that] has emerged from a bizarre fusion of the cultural bohemianism
of San Francisco with the hi-tech industries of Silicon Valley.” “Promoted in
magazines, books, TV programs, Web sites, newsgroups and Net conferences, the
Californian Ideology promiscuously combines the free-wheeling spirit of the
hippies and the entrepreneurial zeal of the yuppies.”
The Californian Ideology simultaneously reflects “the disciplines of market
economics and the freedoms of hippie artisanship.” This ideology is alive and well
List.com, the first shared online bookmarking system started up and ICQ (Instant
Messaging Computer Program) was released and Brewster Kahle launches the
non-profit organization The Internet Archive. Also in 1995, the Asian American
community site AsianAvenue.com kicked off (without social networking features
at the time) andYahoo!Personals started as online dating service. In the same
year, Pattie Maes (MIT), together with engineers at her Lab, builds one of the first
music recommendation systems called HOMR (or Helpful Online Music
Recommendation Service), one of the first collaborative music filtering and
referral systems preceding services like Last.fm, Jango or Pandora. In
1996, Rhizome.org was founded with the goal to “provide a platform for the global
new media art community.” The ArtBase is Rhizome’s rich online archive,
predominantly of net art projects.
Also in 1996 Brewster Kahle’s Internet Archive started the Wayback Machine. The
Wayback Machine originally referred to a machine from the cartoon The Rocky
and Bullwinkle Show in which Mr. Peabody and Sherman would be taken back in
time. The Wayback Machine is used to visit web pages from 1996 to the a few
months ago that may no longer be available. By 2007, 85 billion web pages are
In 1996 Manuel Castells (b. 1942) publishes the first volume in the trilogy
Information Age, titled The Rise of the Information Society. Castells writes that
“most decisive historical factor accelerating, channeling and shaping the
information technology paradigm, and inducing its associated social forms, was/is
the process of capitalist restructuring undertaken since the 1980s, so that the new
techno-economic system can be adequately characterized as informational
He argued that in contemporary society dominant functions and processes are
increasingly organized around networks.
Only one year later Rob Malda (a.k.a CmdrTaco, b. 1976) launched Slashdot, the
first weblog allowing readers to comment and the term “weblog” was coined the
American blogger Jorn Barger. Barger (b. 1952) ultimately complains that coining
this term did not lead to personal financial gain for him. The lack of commercial
promise that blogs offered at the time was the reason that they did not get much
initial mainstream attention.
The University of Ottawa professor Pierre Levy published his book Collective
Intelligence, which investigated the affordances of networked sociality, describing
an intelligence that emerges from the collaboration, competition of many
individuals working on one task.
The massive scaling-up of online sociality and the emergence participatory
cultures made this a consequential book. In 1997, David Garcia and Geert Lovink
defined Tactical Media as “what happens when the cheap ‘do it yourself’ media,
made possible by the revolution in consumer electronics and expanded forms of
distribution (from public access cable to the internet) are exploited by groups and
individuals who feel aggrieved by or excluded from the wider culture.” By
2002 Tactical Media Labs had been started in Amsterdam, Sydney, Cluj,
Barcelona, Delhi, New York, Singapore, Birmingham, Nova Scotia, Berlin,
Chicago, Portsmouth, Sao Paulo, Moscow, Dubrovnik, and Zanzibar. In 2004 the
Mídia Tática group in Sao Paolo (Tatiana Wells and Ricardo Rosas) established
several AutoLabs in this context trying to help the urban poor to use the new
resources of the Internet for their own ends.
In 1998 the business-centered social networking site Ecademy starts up
and Evite launches as a website for creating, sending, and managing online
invitations. Also at this early point, the Indian social networking siteSulekha was
set into motion. Playahead, a large Internet community mainly for Swedish
teenagers, was founded in Helsingborg, Sweden in 1998 and claims to have 1
million members in 2007. ECrush, today the 10th largest dating site in the United
States, was launched in 1999 pre-dating the social networking sites like Friendster,
MySpace and Facebook. Sulekha and Playahead show that the early history of
social networking was not solely an American affair.
In the same year DMOZ, also known as The Open Directory Project, is founded
under the name GnuHoo. Richard Stallman and the Free Software
Foundation objected to the usage of Gnu because GnuHoo was a commercial
enterprise founded by two SunMicroSystems employees. Consequently, the name
GnuHoo was changed to NewHoo. NewHoo/DMOZ/Open Directory Project
involves geographically distributed individuals to evaluate websites, creating a
user-powered search engine. In October 1999 the number of URLs indexed by
ODP reached one million (about 1.6 million by 2000 and four million by 2003). By
March 2007 75,151 editors have contributed. The project is later bought by
Netscape, which was then acquired by AOL. Volunteer editors lived through “a
short-lived attempt by the company at moderation of the ODP Editor Forums, but
this effort was abandoned as being the antithesis of the egalitarian principles on
which the ODP community was supposed to be based.” There are several example
in which editors who questioned editing guidelines had their editing privileges
removed by paid staff.
The French curator and art critic Nicolas Bourriaud published Relational
Aesthetics engaging with the possibility of “relational art” based on the practices of
artists who became visible during the 1990s. Concurrently, the German researcher
Peter Hoschka introduced the term Social Web.
In 1999, Rusty Foster creates kuro5hin (pronounced “corrosion”), a weblog where
users vote for the content that goes onto the front page. The computer
programmer Shawn Fanning (b. 1980) writes Napster at Northeastern University
with his friend Sean Parker. Users of Napster could download the free program to
search the hard disks of other users for Mp3 files, which could then be downloaded
directly from those peers. The Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA)
sued Napster in December 1999, which was followed by the heavy metal band
Metallica filing a lawsuit against the company in 2000. During the last months of
Napster’s operation in 2001, several other file-sharing programs emerged
including Kazaa and Gnutella, which allowed users to continue to share music
files. Napster was important as it established expectations– information wants to
be free. It demonstrated the power of peer-to-peer systems (i.e., in August 2001
alone, 3.1 billion files were exchanged via Napster).
In the same year Pyra Labs start Blogger.com, and social networking sites
including Tribe, Xanga, Blackplanetlaunch. By 2007 the latter will have 16 million
users, mainly African Americans.
The DotCom Crash and Massive Offshoring
Throughout the 1990s, California became the center of the biggest economic boom
since the gold rush of 1848 that brought some 300,000 people from all over the
world. In the 1990s many highly skilled Indian programmers started to work for
dotcom companies twelve thousand miles away from Silicon Valley, in Bangalore.
Silicon Valley weas responsible for 13% of the new American jobs created
between 1996 and 2000. In 1995, the cross-platform software language JAVA, a
“building material” for software, was written at SunMicro Systems, named after
coffee, Silicon Valley’s favorite beverage.
All of this happened against the backdrop of a starting backlash of technology
stocks in the financial markets, which indicated what later became known as
the Dotcom Crash. The flashy WebbyAwards exemplify the “dotcom bubble”.
Since 1995, it brought together thousands of people in costumes, with hired faux-
paparazzi to make people feel important. The Internet was predicted to be the
quick replacement of the post office, the fast way to cash in on markets all over the
world. The perceptions of the evolution of markets on the Web were exaggerated.
Venture capitalists (VC) poured millions into companies that had given up
traditional business models, which led to some spectacular failures. For two years,
2001 and 2002, investment in startups was at a minimum. In 2003 Accel, a leading
venture capital started funding startup businesses again. Accel’s president James
Breyer demanded that Accel companies need to have at least half of their workers
based overseas. He said:
“If a company is not actively investing in China and India, they need to provide a
very compelling case to board members as to why they are not.”
In the years after the dotcom crash, the parking lots of Silicon Valley were empty
and programmers took jobs with much lower wages in the non-profit area, creating
open source software.
The Rise of Citizen Media
IndyMedia launched during the protests against the World Trade
Organization (WTO) in Seattle in November 1999. The motivation for its creation
was the realization that the media would not accurately report demonstrations of
the pro-democratic globalization movement. Indymedia made a difference by
allowing anyone to write the news. It became an early example of participatory
citizen media, offering an alternative to corporate media. Today, Indymedia sites
all over the world use Mir, a JAVA-based open-source content management
system. Consequently it became clear that the Internet was a valuable tool for
organizing, fundraising, lobbying, and community building.
Also in 1999, the RTMark site kicked off. “RTMark is itself a registered
corporation which brings together activists who plan projects with donors who
fund them. It thus operates outside the laws governing human individuals, and
benefits from the much looser laws governing corporations.” RTMark was
participatory in the sense that it functions as matchmaker between anti-corporate
activists and anti-corporate donors leading to projects such as the Barbie Liberation
In 2000, the international online artistic community DeviantArt, the social
networking site Faceparty, and IRC-Galleria launched. The latter will become the
largest web-based virtual community in Finland. Faceparty, which has 5.9 million
users in 2007, mainly focuses on British teens and 20-somethings. The peer-to-peer
file sharing application Kazaa was created that year and the South Korean social
news site OhMyNews launches. Despite the international accessibility of social
networking sites like Faceparty, their actual user-group is often very specific to a
geographic region and even age group.
In December, the private, non-commercial working group RSS-Dev Group
released its RSS 1.0 specification, allowing users to “feed” or “aggregate” websites
in a so called RSS aggregator, a piece of software allowing them to follow changes
such as new posts on many websites at once without actually having to visit
In 2001, the MIT Sociable Media Group was formed and several vital mailing lists
launched including SPECTRE(“an unmoderated mailing list for media art and
culture in Deep Europe”) and the list of The Association of Internet Researchers.
The terrorist suicide attacks of September 11, 2001 led to a widespread change in
approaches of the US government to privacy, including the installation of the FBI’s
email surveillance system known as “Carnivore” on many Internet Service
A dropout of the State University of New York at Buffalo, Bram Cohen (b. 1975)
later developed the peer-to-peer file sharing communications protocol BitTorrent,
which is first implemented on July 2, 2001. Cohen designedBitTorrent to be able to
speed up the download time, especially for users with fast download and upload
speeds. The more popular a file is, the faster a user will be able to download it. In
2007, according to Cohen, BitTorrent has 135 million installs and accounts for 55
percent of all Internet traffic.
Concurrently, social networking sites like Cyworld Sites, DeadJournal,
Frühstückstreff, Passado, and Ryze are created. Former editor-in-chief
of Nupedia and Citizendium founder Larry Sanger (b. 1968) and the American
Internet entrepreneur Jimmy Wales (b. 1966) create Wikipedia in 2000/2001.
Wikipedia’s spectular success demonstrates the power of collective intelligence and
also took away a certain amount of power from established experts who are not the
sole authorities anymore.
In addition, the weblog publishing system Movable Type was released. Around the
same time political scientist Robert D. Putnam publishes Bowling Alone: The
Collapse and Revival of American Community, describing the decline of social
capital in the United States. In the US, he describes the decline in civic
participation, religious participation (churches), civic participation, altruism,
reciprocity, workplace participation (union membership declines), informal
connections, and political participation (voting, running for office). While
Putnam’s definition of social capital is problematic and his examples are old-
fashioned, he does notice the mentioned decline of social capital but
simultaneously describes a rapid growth of small niche communities and self-help
Scott Heiferman (co-founder of the social networking site Meetup.com) traces the
inspiration to create Meetup.com in 2002 back to Putnam’s book. “The primary
inspiration was the book Bowling Alone… We are providing a service that
revitalizes the Internet for local communities.” The site became especially know
for its role in Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. In 2005 Meetup.com requires
organizers to pay for local groups leading to a drastic drop in local groups but in
2007 it still has two million users.
Also in 2002 social sites like Friendster and the Hungarian social networking
site iWiW started. The social networking site Last.fm (based on music) set a
positive standard for privacy and transparency by stating in their Terms of Service
anyone off. We won’t pass your email address on to anyone, not even Lars Ulrich
at gunpoint. Your pseudonymous listening habit data will be available to other
Last.fm users for non-commercial use under a Creative Commons license. … We
reserve the right to sell or license pseudonymous listening data for commercial use
In the same year the blog search engine Technorati launched and the photo-sharing
site Flickr was co-founded byCaterina Fake in Canada. It has a repository that in
2007 is quickly approaching 1 billion images. In January 2007, Flickr announced
that the “Old Skool” members, those that pre-date the Yahoo acquisition in 2005,
would be required to associate their account with a Yahoo ID. Users such as
Jimmy Wales did not want to associate with Yahoo but were now forced to do so if
they wanted to keep using Delicious. They criticized this move.
Also in 2002, the American economist and urban studies theorist Richard
Florida published the controversial The Rise of the Creative Class. He writes:
“This young man had spiked multi-colored hair, full-body tattoos, and multiple
piercings in his ears. An obvious slacker, I thought, probably in a band. ‘So what is
your story?’ I asked. ‘Hey man, I just signed on with these guys.’ … This young man
and his lifestyle proclivities represent a profound new force in the economy and
life of America. He is a member of what I call the creative class: a fast growing,
highly educated, and well-paid segment of the workforce on whose efforts
corporate profits and economic growth increasingly depend. Members of the
creative class do a wide variety of work in a wide variety of industries–from
technology to entertainment, journalism to finance, high-end manufacturing to the
arts. They do not consciously think of themselves as a class. Yet they share a
common ethos that values creativity, individuality, difference, and merit.”
Also in 2002 the -empyre– list was launched by the Australian networked media
artist, writer and curator Melinda Rackham. Empyre became an important forum
for the discussion of media art. The information architect Thomas Vander Wal uses
the term folksonomy to describe socially created taxonomies. Howard Rheingold
published Smart Mobs while in November 2002 the American writer, consultant
and teacher Clay Shirky organized the “Social Software Summit” further
popularizing the term “social software.”
The transnational Frassanito Network collaboratively authored an essay “The
Precariat” in which they state that
“Precarious work refers to all possible shapes of unsure, not guaranteed, flexible
exploitation: from illegalized, seasonal and temporary employment to homework,
flex- and temp-work to subcontractors, freelancers or so called self employed
In the years to come the ideas surrounding the term of the precariat were applied to
new labor conditions created by a networked lifestyle. Corporations increasingly
realized that openness helps them to draw in users who then start to work for them
either for free or for a minimum wage. In addition, and even more importantly,
entrepreneurs appreciated that these thousands of users and producers were in no
way organized (e.g., in a union). They work the net as kind of second job after
The Dutch media critic Geert Lovink published “Dark Fiber,” in which he presents
rare case studies of critical Internet culture such as Digitale Stad. Also in 2002 the
US-based media-sharing site Fotolog is launched. It will gain a solid user base of
over ten million users throughout South America (Chile, Argentina, Brazil). The
approach of the site to content ownership shifted over the years of its existence. In
2005 the terms of service state: “It is Fotolog’s policy to respect the privacy of
Members. Therefore, Fotolog will not disclose to any third party Member’s name
or contact information. Fotolog will also not monitor, edit, or disclose the contents
of a Member’s information…” but just two years later this is modified to say: “All
content posted by a member is the property of the member that posted such
Joshua Schachter (b. 1974), at the time a programmer for the financial service firm
Morgan Stanley, develops the social bookmarking service Delicious in his spare
time and launches it in 2003. A friend of Schachter referred to finding good links
as “eating cherries” and that led to the “Delicious” metaphor. Yahoo will acquire it
in 2005. By 2007, Delicious will have 3 million users and 10 million bookmarks.
In 2003 many social tools including social networking and dating and social
bookmarking sites launched:SubEthaEdit, first released under the name Hydra (the
collaborative real-time editor). SubEthaEdit offers collaboration-enhancing
features that would have been extremely expensive in the past.
Concurrently, two professional networking sites (LinkedIn and OpenBC- later
called XING) emerge. Linkedin will have 13 million users by 2007 but, strangely,
it is nearly impossible to remove one’s profile from LinkedIn. There is no
automated way; the official method is to file a customer support ticket. While
LinkedIn is mainly used in North America, the German site Xing dominates in
Europe and the Far East. Both networks are build on what Mark Granovetter called
weak ties. In 1973, in his book “Getting a Job” Granovetter argued that within a
social network, weak ties are more powerful than strong ones. He showed that
most people got jobs because of their weak ties instead of their strong ones.
In the same year the social networking site MySpace as well as the virtual world
SecondLife are introduced. The former will become the most culturally influential
social networking platform in the history of the Internet to date with about two
hundred million users. According to freelance writer Trent Lapinski “MySpace was
actually created by executives whose backgrounds are anchored in spam and mass
marketing… [and] essential to the creation of MySpace is current CEO Chris
DeWolfe.” As a source close to DeWolfe at Xdrive put it:
“DeWolfe learned that people will sign up for almost anything that they find
useful, and they could care less about the fine print.” Spam became a central
“feature” of MySpace,which, in 2006, makes it abundantly clear that “the company
has ‘a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license … to use, copy,
modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce,
transmit, and distribute’ all content uploaded to their site.”
In June 2003, Google starts its Adsense program, allowing many individual
bloggers to monetize traffic on their site. Very few, however, will ever be able to
make a living this way.
In this year the persistent growth of user-contributed content became evident and
the practice of podcasting became popular among advanced suers. Podcasters’ web
sites can be syndicated, subscribed to, and downloaded automatically, using an
aggregator or feed reader capable of reading feed formats such as RSS. Wikipedia
reported 100,000 articles, and LiveJournal and Friendster each hit 1 million
accounts. There was no peak of contribution of articles to the English version of
Wikipedia that year but there persistent growth. Also in 2003, the Kazaa founders
Swedish Niklas Zennström (b. 1966) and the Danish Janus Friis (b. 1976) released
the peer-to-peer Internet telephony network Skype. It was significant that in a well-
organized effort, 8-30 million people in 800 cities worldwide simultaneously
showed their defiance of the war in Iraq on February 15, 2003. While this
international resistance did not stop the war (the first American bombs drop on
Baghdad on March 19 and the invasion started a day later), it demonstrated the
ability to mobilize millions of people worldwide in real time, something that –on
that scale — had no precedence, and would have been hard to imagine without the
organizational possibilities that the Internet affords.
With blogging tools widely available by now, this was also the time in which the
anonymous Iraq blogger Salam Pax started to report, with a good sense of humor,
not just about the months leading up to the war and after, but also about his
favorite music, from Massive Attack to Bjork. His blog enraged and excited many
in the West who commented on it.
Howard Dean demonstrated forcefully that the Social Web can have an impact on
“real life” through his use of weblogs and the content management system
“Deanspace,” which was launched by “social entrepreneur” Zack Rosen and self-
pronounced “Drupal hacker” Neil Drumm in 2004. It led 100,000 supporters to
congregate all-over the United States. Concurrently, Albert-László Barabási
published Linked: How Everything Is Connected to Everything Else and What It
Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life. Barabási thinks of cocktail
parties, terrorist cells, ancient bacteria, and international conglomerates as
networks. Networks in computer science, ecology, molecular biology, and
quantum physics, according to Barabási have much in common and can inform us
about online communities and social networks.
In 2003, three graduates of Stanford University create the “free,” ad-supported
wiki was founded PeanutButterWiki(PbWiki) with their misleading market slogan
“Make a free wiki as easily as a peanut butter sandwich!” Users pay by tolerating
the ads on their wikis.
In the same year, significantly more services launched than in years prior. Many of
the social networking sites that started at that time are still in use. Deanspace and
the organization of the worldwide demonstration against the war Iraq on February
15 showed, for the first time, how the Social Web can significantly influence real
life politics. At this point it is also apparent that new social tools are now widely
available and their use is simple enough to encourage widespread participation.
The increased number of articles on Wikipedia and accounts on LiveJournals and
Friendster show that the ongoing growth of the scale of participatory behavior was
perceived as less fragile.
Following the details of the mentioned startups in 2003 it is clear that young,
talented programmers start up innovative services and are then (often quickly)
bought up by the large corporations that have the resources to support large-scale
sociality. Given the examples of Skype, Pbwiki, Kazaa, and Joost, it is apparent
that the impulse to start up a new innovative service often seems to come from
graduate students or recently graduated technologists. There are, however, a few
exceptions (e.g., MySpace).
In opposition to widespread belief, Americans are not the sole creators of popular
services for the Social Web. The World Wide Web itself was conceived in
Switzerland. The founders of Kaaza, Skype, and Joost were Danish and Swedish.
Suleksha, an Indian social networking site, was created in 1998. Many of the social
networking sites that became popular in the United States were too culturally
American to catch on in India or the rest of Asia. Other sites, developed in the
United States, predominantly caught on in South America, for example. Sites like
Orkut, are technologically situated in the United States but are almost exclusively
culturally embedded in countries like India and Brazil.
In 2004 Webster makes “weblog” word of the year and the undergraduate
student Mark Zuckerberg (b. 1984) starts the social networking site Facebook at
Harvard University. The site’s privacy agreement in September 2007 states.
“We may use information about you that we collect from other sources, including
but not limited to newspapers and Internet sources such as blogs, instant messaging
services and other users of Facebook, to supplement your profile.”
Care2, a social activism with 7, 74 million users in 2007, also launched in 2004,
states in stark contrast to the Facebook policies:
“Care2 does not claim ownership of Content you submit or make available for
inclusion on the Service … “
In 2004, at Canada’s “Amazon.ca review system revealed that many well-
established authors were anonymously giving themselves glowing reviews, with
some revealed to be anonymously giving ‘rival’ authors terrible reviews. The
glitch in the system was fixed and those reviews have since been removed or made
anonymous.” In March 2006 a search of Amazon.com’s books using the word
“abortion” turned up pages with the question, “Did you mean adoption?,” which
caused much controversy and was caused by the companies search algorithm,
which they subsequently changed.
In the same year, set up by eBay founder Pierre Omidyar (b. 1967), the Omidyar
network’s stated mission is to “enable individual self-empowerment on a global
scale” and employ “business as a tool for social good.” The Omidyar network
funds not solely “non-profit projects, but also for-profit ventures and public
initiatives they believe promote individual self-empowerment.” In 2004 the network
supported the open source repository SourceForge.net with $400,000. But by mid-
2007 it was suddenly (and without clear reason) announced that while the site is
“useful and successful,” it will shut down at the end of 2007.
Users Align in Protest
In 2004 it has been reported that the top 100 users of the referral site Digg control
56 percent of Digg’s front page content and that a niche group of just twenty
individuals had submitted 25percent of the front page content. Later, in May 2007,
an article appeared on Digg’s homepage that contained the encryption key for the
AACS digital rights management protection of HD DVD and Blu-ray Disc. Digg,
removed the submissions and banned contributors. Many users saw the removals
as a capitulation to corporate interests and an assault on free speech. The Digg
community staged a widespread revolt. One of the Digg users referred to it as a
“Digital Boston Tea Party.” The response by Digg founder Kevin Rose:
“[A]fter seeing hundreds of stories and reading thousands of comments, you’ve
made it clear. You’d rather see Digg go down fighting than bow down to a bigger
company. We hear you, and effective immediately we won’t delete stories or
comments containing the code and will deal with whatever the consequences might
The social networking site Orkut, owned by Google, was founded in 2004. It is
most popular in Brazil, India, and Greenland. In fact, in these countries is the
default social networking site with a total number of users approaching 68 million.
The Geographic Situatedness of Social Networking Sites
Piczo, founded in 2004 in Canada, is the fastest-growing online brand in the UK in
2006 with girls under 18 accounting for almost half its membership of 10 million
in 2007. There are many other examples of sites that are geographically focused.
Founded a year later, Profileheaven, has an audience which is 96 percent UK
derived with a typical age demographic being 16-22 year olds with a 60 percent
lean towards females.
An example of intrusive privacy is the social networking site Tagged.
“Members consent to receive commercial e-mail messages from Tagged, and
acknowledge and agree that their email and other personal information may be
used by Tagged for the purpose of initiating commercial e-mail messages.”
Also that year, Tiziana Terranova published Network Culture: Politics for the
Information Age, in which she, among other concerns, discusses free labor and the
“free experience” in the digital economy. She argues that free labor is not just
crucial to the Internet but that it is a source of value in advanced capitalist societies
Concurrently, the peer-to-peer file sharing client LimeWire was released and the
consultant Christopher Allen posts his blog essay Life With Alacrity: Tracing the
Evolution of Social Software. In 2004 Joshua Kinberg builds “a wireless internet-
enabled bicycle outfitted with a custom-designed printing device. [T]he bike … can
print text messages sent from web users directly onto the streets … in water-soluble
chalk.” Kinberg, was about to deploy the bike as part of the Bikes Against
Bush project at the Republican Convention in New York City but was arrested on
The Power of Naming
In 2005 Tim O’Reilly writes and posts his article “What Is Web 2.0?” creating
much controversy and buzz. The term quickly became a household name. Web 2.0
replaces the one-to-many model of service provision with utilization of users
through the many-to-many potential of the internet. It is not the focus of this essay
to analyze the Web 2.0 ideology (a text on this topic follows).
In the same year Kevin Kelly publishes “We Are the Web” in “Wired” magazine,
in which he describes a world manufactured by users, a wordl in which many
people, when divorced from the machine, will not feel like themselves, they will as
if “they’d had a lobotomy.”
Many more social networking tools this year including Connect.ee (Iceland, media
sharing), FarmersOnly.com(dating and social search for farmers), Ning (online
platform for creating social websites and social networks) co-founded by Gina
Bianchi, ProfileHeaven (social networking, youth), TagWorld (media sharing site:
videos, photos; blogging, social networking), Yahoo! 360° (social networking)
and YouTube, GoogleVideo, Blip.tv(media sharing).
The term media sharing is not completely accurate in the case of YouTube as the
site does not facilitate the sharing of actual media files. It allows the embedding of
media files hosted on Youtube in blogs. Contrary to YouTube, Blip.tv does share
the media file itself. Lawrence Lessig referred to YouTube as fake sharing site
whereas he highlights Blip.tv as a true sharing site. Dina Kaplan, co-founder of
blip.tv, is one of the many but little visible women in this field.
An additional site that started up was the British social networking site for high
school and college Bebo, co-founded by Xochi Birch, one of the few visible
women in the industry. Bebo will have 34 million users in 1997. Its take on
ownership of user-generated content is clear. In 2005 it says: “Bebo does not claim
any ownership rights in any Materials that you submit, post, or display on or
through the Bebo Services or on the Bebo.com Web site.”
In 2005, US law enforcement agencies started to extensively use social networking
sites. In March 2005, for example, the United States Secret Service met with a
University of Oklahoma freshman after he posted to the Facebook: “We could all
donate a dollar and raise millions of dollars to hire an assassin to kill the
president and replace him with a monkey.” On December 14th, 2005 MIT students
published a research paper about Facebook privacy that used data from an
automated script that allowed them to download over 70,000 Facebook profiles
from MIT, NYU, the University of Oklahoma, and Harvard. The simple fact that it
was not too hard to write a script and harvest so much user data was clearly mind-
boggling for users of Facebook who thought that the information in their profiles
The Facebook privacy agreement states: “We may share your information with
third parties, including responsible companies with which we have a
relationship.” In addition, the website provides no option of permanently deleting
one’s account (users can only “deactivate” their account). All of which leads to
frequent controversies. In August 2005, the independent blogger Josh Smith found
that Facebook received $13 million in funding from “Accel Partners,” a firm whose
manager James Breyer formerly served as the chairman of In-Q-Tel, a venture
capital firm operated by the United States Central Intelligence Agency. Accel
Partners, has, however, invested in many start-ups.
In 2005 several mobile social networking sites emerge and Meetro is one such
application. The online world is overlaid on top of the physical world. Meetro
combines SMS features, social networking and links it to location. In
addition, Arianna Huffington, who describes herself as a “former right-winger who
has evolved into a compassionate and progressive populist,” founded the
Huffington Post in 2005. Huffington (b. 1950) is an author and columnist. The site
brings together a cadre of bloggers who include many of her prominent “friends.”
In 2006The Huffington Post was the 5th most popular blog online, balancing hard
news commentary and coverage, popular culture and celebrity opinion features.
One of the topics covered in the Huffington Post that year was Google’s acquisition
of YouTube for $1.65 billion in stocks.
In 2006 Jay Rosen posted “PressThink: The People Formerly Known as the
Audience” to his blog explaining the changed nature of the user who is now also a
producer. He writes:
“Think of passengers on your ship who got a boat of their own. The writing
readers. The viewers who picked up a camera. The formerly atomized listeners
who with modest effort can connect with each other and gain the means to speak—
to the world, as it were.”
Excluding Rural Youth and Minorities
The Deleting Online Predators Act of 2006 (DOPA) is a bill, which was brought
before the United States House of Representatives on May 9, 2006. The bill, if
enacted, will require schools and libraries that receive E-rate funding to prohibit
access to social networking websites. DOPA would thereby limit access to a wide
range of educational material on these websites (especially for minority and rural
Yochai Benkler published The Wealth of Networks, in which he introduced the
term “commons-based peer production,” referring to a wide range of collaborative
efforts emerging on the net that produce value. On March 27 students in Los
Angeles organized large-scale protests against immigration laws through MySpace
and SMS, which really demonstrated the power of social networking in “real life.”
In September 2006 Facebook launched a “news feed” feature causing protest and
responses by close 740,000 users who joined the Students Against Facebook News
Feed Group. On June 15th, 2006 Myspace states in their Terms and Conditions that
the company has “a non-exclusive, fully-paid and royalty-free, worldwide license
(with the right to sublicense through unlimited levels of sublicensees) to use, copy,
modify, adapt, translate, publicly perform, publicly display, store, reproduce,
transmit, and distribute” all content uploaded to their site. Also in 2006, spamming
software for social networking sites such as FriendBot become available.
Niche Networking, the Attention Economy, and the Producer Avantgarde
The list of social software that launches in 2006 and 2007 is endless. It is apparent
that in these two years any desire that one can possible have in relation to social
networking has it is own dedicated site- from cars, hockey and soccer to travel,
faith, games, education, cooking and baking, mental health and fashion, weddings,
motherhood, and family, to self-help of all kinds, reading, and pets. Corporations
realize that their profits are not generated from content but from mere attention and
ad banner clicks. The time that users spend on sites became the central value,
directing translating into value. It is important to note, however, that despite the
rise in presence on the Social Web, the actual participation in terms of posting blog
posts, uploading videos, music, or podcasts is growing but still small. (In
2005 2% of users were active contributors but in 2007 it is 12%). 0.16% of people
watching videos on YouTube also upload to the site.
The plethora of social platforms that launched in 2006 included AIM Pages (social
networking, blogware),BibleLounge.com (“the Christian alternative to
MySpace”), Broadcaster (media sharing, video), Campusbug(social networking,
online education, e-commerce), Christianvibes.com (Christian social networking
site), DWC Faces (social networking for professional women,
feminist), Famoodle.com (social networking, media sharing, family-
focused), Gusto.com (referral site about travel), Joga.com (social networking for
soccer players),Lazona.com (Latino social networking site), MOBANGO (mobile
social networking), MOG (referral and social networking around
music), NHLConnect (social networking site of the National Hockey
League),PetBoogaloo.com (social networking for pet
aficionados), RealMentalHealth.com (social networking site about mental health
and wellness), Shareweddings.com (social networking focused on
weddings), Sisterwoman.com(feminist social networking site celebrating
friendships among women), Stylefeeder (social networking and referral grouped
around fashion), TakingITGlobal (activist, youth social
networking), Thefamilylog.com (social networking and referral for the entire
family) and Twitter (micro-blogging, mobile social networking).
In 2007: Daily Strength (self help, social networking), Douban (social networking
about books), Kaneva (Game platform), Nimbuzz (mobile social networking,
IM), Pownce (IM, media sharing), Thoof (media sharing, referral, social
news), Bakespace (social networking around baking), Bringsome (social
networking and real life meetings),Cellfish (mobile media sharing), Frappr (social
maps), Shozu (mobile social networking and media sharing).
By 2007 one billion people are online, Wikipedia reports 2 million articles in its
English version alone, MySpace counts 200 million accounts,
and Technorati indexed more than 80 million blogs. Many of the emerging social
tools focus on social mobile space.
In 2007, Amazon.com has over 900,000 members worldwide in its affiliate
programs. Thsi is emarkable as critics of Amazon.com will have to admit that this
program does create a livelihood for many individuals on the net. This fact is, of
course, complicated by the fact that Amazon put many small bookstores out of
business and now allows them to make profits on their platform, paying their
“dues” to Amazon. In July 2007 Facebook reports about 30 million users, growing
by about 4 million each month. Social networking sites like Friendster (that lost
many members), and then MySpace and Facebook grew, largely dominating the
United States, that is not the case today. Facebook has stronger membership
outside the US than MySpace. And also in 2007 Bebo, Friendster, Orkut, and hi5
have strong international presence.
Control and Captive Communities
In fact, hi5 is the leading social networking site in Colombia, Costa Rica,
Dominican Republic, Ecuador, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Kuwait,
Mauritius, Mongolia, Nicaragua, Peru, Portugal, Romania, Thailand, and Tunisia.
Orkut dominates India and Brazil and Fotolog is the default social networking site
in Argentina and Chile. These sites are so dominant because their exit costs are
high and people don’t want to migrate. They need to be where their friends are.
Their content is stored on these sites and cannot be easily exported.
Looking through the threads of the evolution of the Social Web, it becomes
apparent that the Web has been social from its very beginning. Its evolution has
been gradual but today we do witness a new scale of participation, aparticipatory
“User riots” like those of Digg and Facebook showed that the ease of information
flows allows users/producers to coalesce and gain greater negotiating power.
The future of networked sociality is clearly linked to the anticipated two billions
cellphone users of the near future. They will make the one hundred million
bloggers look marginal. In mobile social space and on the Internet, it’ll be critical
to evaluate and re-evaluate the interests and values (and the driving forces behind
those agendas) that guide technological developments.
Scholz, Trebor. “A History of the Social Web (draft).”
Collectivate.net. 26 Sep 2007. 1 Oct 2007
Article originally appeared on Collectivate.net (http://www.collectivate.net/).
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