A social network is a website or network of websites specifically established to enable end users to communicate or connect on topics of mutual interest. These networks can address many different needs, and use of them varies depending on what you want to accomplish.
Before deciding what network works best for your goals, you have to take a look at the different existing services and see what they can offer. Social networks, or a form of them, have been around a lot longer than people realize, dating back to the late 1970s. The following sections discuss some of the milestones of the social networking timeline.
Usenet systems (see Figure 3-1) were first conceived in 1979 by Tom Truscott and Jim Ellis. Usenet enables users to post articles or posts (referred to as news) to newsgroups. Usenet systems had no centralized server or dedicated administrator to set them apart from most Bulletin Board Systems (BBSes) and forums. Usenets are mostly responsible for the development of newsreader clients, which are the precursor to RSS feed readers so commonly used to follow blogs and news sites today. Group sites such as Google Groups and Yahoo! groups are our modern-day Usenet systems.
BBSes (see Figure 3-2) were the ...