I never spoke about overcoming shyness in any of my posts however one of the ways which helps me with that is commenting on blogs. I’ve had a couple of instances where I was blown away from the content and while I wanted to say something, I felt my thoughts were most likely going to sound silly. So I just read the article and moved on to the next without actually reaching out.
Now that I think of it, it’s kind of silly but it’s a lot like reality in many ways. How many times have you met someone who you were really impressed with and couldn’t express your appreciation without stuttering or sounding silly? Now if you’re in the same boat as me, it’s OK. Shyness is also precedent online as it is in real life.
So as I mingle with other bloggers more and read more of their thoughts, who’s referencing them and the network which the conversations are mostly in, the social network as a whole makes sense. Web 2.0 is absolutely amazing.
This post is going to cover the social networks as I have seen them online throughout the early days of my computing history. Maybe there’s something here which you’ve experience as well. If so, please share!
You Got Mail! I used to collect tons of those free coasters and stored them as Pokemon traders have collected a few years back. The sparkles, design and little yellow man next to the mailbox was a familiar image for me. That’s when the internet was just catching up and as more and more users got themselves online, utilizing the e-mail box within my AOL account was becoming a daily ritual of finding valuable content.
I’m a big info-drive so downloading was my thing. I wanted to build a collection of applications and games so I went into AOL chat rooms and found distributors of software who offered them to the community. There were crews and different channels for each niche so if you wanted something of a certain quality, you just had to ask. Someone eventually knows someone and can direct you to the proper place where you can get what you want.
I made friends this way and it was mutually for the love of computing information. It became more so as they began to share with me the specifications, bugs and recommendations of software worth looking into. It felt pretty much like an open forum where insider’s stuff on software development and offsetting programs were discussed freely.
While shareware was something that was actively growing, there were users who were adamant with overriding that procedure. So it caught onto the community and the crews who distributed the programs would compete with the process of cracking. Those days of hanging around AOL chat channels and learning from them helped me build a passion for participating in bigger networks later on.
As life went on with schooling and teenage frivolity, the social phenomenon in the real world wasn’t picking up pace. AOL was beginning to see some competition with NetZero, Compuserve and even Microsoft. NetZero was giving away FREE internet access at the time and that was good but it lacked the network which AOL had with it’s chatrooms. So for regular users who just wanted to browse the net and check their e-mail, this was gold.
Remember the internet was just in it’s infancy and the dot coms were just starting off. Having internet access was a rarity and search engines like Alta Vista and Netscape were commonly used. Nothing like Google has started yet and marketing online wasn’t as big as it is today.
The revolution of making web sites spawned as sites like Geocities gave away FREE space for users to build their site online. What you see is what you get (WYSIWYG ) tools were available for those who didn’t know how to code hyper-text markup language (HTML). I had to learn HTML because the class I was in required I knew how to insert tables and a marquee online. Thus, using Geocities as my starting point, I ventured into website making.
The trend back then in web design was having a dark background. So I went with that. It gave my site a cool and unique look but that’s unlike the white space that is considered feasible to readers today. The more I got into building my own site, I acquired awesome graphics and animated icons which later allowed my readers to click on or follow the arrows.
My favorite part however were the dividers which separated your content. These little gems were remarkable because not only were they stylish but they helped organize your content. Furthermore, the option to increase your visibility was possible with a guestbook. Then to increase your presence deeper you could participate in a web ring. Finally, the ultimate way to really be someone online was to establish your own forum where a thriving community could mingle. There are many advantages to having these.
When someone visits your site, having a guestbook allows them to shoot their thoughts. It encourages you to respond back but it also let’s you know what your readers want. This keeps you inspired to put up content. Now this isn’t blogging so the newer content had to deal with modification of the previous one which became a big hassle. To do this, you had to reopen your page or create another and append the new information to the previous page. So the static nature of websites didn’t let you do much but create archives that were linking separately from one another.
On the other end, there were rings of websites which you could join much like a blog carnival or blog catalog nowadays. It helps bring your site to interested readers of the same niche. This brought a lot of traffic to one another and allowed the sharing of each other’s community. I found myself just swinging through ring after ring just like Tarzan. There are a lot of great information found this way. But the most prominent thing I found was the community here really wanted to connect. They are serious hobbyists.
Lastly, forums have been around since the beginning of times. If it wasn’t for such a database-driven wonder as this, all the secrets in the world would never be found. Somehow this model is very similar to what blogs are nowadays. It was possible for you to post anonymously and thus share rarities and obscure items with the community.
I must say it’s a great ground for marketing anything you may have and pitching it out there. Thus, clever individuals were already learning how to utilize traffic to their desire and made massive click throughs redirecting users to websites that offered them goodies elsewhere. I mentioned this concept of sharing ideas yesterday.
Sharing has always worked and has been known to create traffic since the beginning of social networks online. Tomorrow, I’m going to continue with this topic on the prominent social networks that I have discovered as well as how they have made my experience online worthwhile.
What are some of your early experiences with social networks online?
How have you participated in the community and learn from it?