Youser Generated Content

(Photo by Nick DiZazzo)

I was born with a computer in my hands. Okay, nooot really, but you won't ever find me without one. That being said, I think I am one of the select few people who can boast that they've been using the public internet since it was dubbed the "World Wide Web" in 1991 (that makes me an internet user at age 6) and when the HTML protocol was devised. Back in the good ol' days, you had to connect to it with the trusty AT modem commands:


.. and when you're done ...


So what have I witnessed in the span of time since the Web was in its infancy until today? I've seen:
Some of those sites are the foundation of what and why the Internet is the way it is today. They pioneered the concepts of posting "user generated content", even if they didn't implement it right away.

Speaking from my own personal experiences, what many people
today who talk about online social networking don't realize is that the evolution of social networking started on private "Bulletin Broadcast Systems" (BBS's). These were created in the 1970's and you needed one of these to get onto one:

I bet all you kids are asking "what in the hell is that?!". That, my friends, is an analogue modem. A non-technical explanation is that it was used to send signals between computers... aka, talk.

Anyway, online social networks moved to Internet Relay Chat (IRC), and then transformed into forums (or, bulletin boards). Forums were the very first way for users to actually change content that was ON the internet.

After forums were born, something new started happening. Within the last 5-7 years, social networking platforms emerged, and:

The "Coles Notes" version? I've visited every corner of the Internet and watched it permute its self from state to state.

Since I answered the "how" question of social networking, this leaves the "why". Sadly, this is where y
ou should stop yourself from making a mistake, by asking me. There are many more smart people out there who have gone to the trouble of figuring it all out. Like this guy. Michael Wesch.

Wesch has produced several works which explore the dynamics of social interaction via online networking platforms. Out of all of them (and yes, I did take the time to go through the rest of his online videos and writings), this video is the most interesting:

An important point that he brings to the table, is that through YouTube, people are rediscovering community. They're rediscovering their own voices. Via a new medium, they're
rediscovering what mankind once had.

As a result, they're discovering for the first time, and in a new way, how to remix their lives with the culture that surrounds them and embrace the creations of others.

YouTube has become a medium which can bridge gaps between people of the world. Every time a new video is added, our world expands a tiny bit; but at the same time, our world gets a whole lot smaller.

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