Social Media has been around for years. Most people don’t realize just how long it has been around, but it’s been around since the 1950’s and continued into the 1970’s with phone phreaking. This was when you would use a box (see picture) which would trick the computer, which controlled the phone calls, with tones and would make the calls free. Once you knew which tones were used for which number and such, you could make international calls for free even though it was against the law. This included calling into corporations answering machines and leaving messages there for others. In “The Lost Interview with Steve Jobs”, Steve explains how he actually did this. Further, by this point the US Military and, later, education systems were using emails though mainframes to exchange information.
Then in the late 1970’s until the mid-1990’s, Bulletin Board Systems or BBS’ came on the scene. These were when you could use your computer system to dial into another system and chat, play games and exchange informational messages. This was when I was starting to understand about getting connected and exchanging information with others – the year was 1991. Everything seemed to hit the accelerate button – all of a sudden my computer went from producing reports and collecting information to communication with others and quick exchange of ideas. My family always thought that I was strange because I would sit in the room for hours looking and trying different things with the computer that they bought because I was always talking about them. Now I was going out to meet others and talk about what was going on and what more we could do with the information and ideas. By this time, I was heading towards college and starting to look forward to it. However, the colleges hadn’t worked their way to using BBS’ yet but they had mentioned to the programming classes, which I was in, about emails. A few of us quickly went in and looked at how we could make that happen and by the end of the year, we had most of the class in on sending them.
Social Media starting to crawl
By the middle of the 1990’s we also had people starting to talk about emails and dialing in and the use of looking up things for information. I know by talking to others some thought that it was crazy and would never go any place and others didn’t quite understand it. I had just started to go to a State University after completing my Associates Degree in Computer Information Systems. It was here that my life radically changed. Within a month, I had:
So my “social” education started to overtake my life I have to say. I would stay up all hours and sometimes days’ discovering what was out there. I had email pen pals via the newsgroups, made friends and chatted to them via the internet, looked information up on the web and downloaded things. In fact, I found friends on the net, found a boyfriend which became my fiancée after he proposed over Mirc and moved countries after exchanging tons of emails. We married in 1997 when meeting and marrying over the internet just wasn’t heard of. In fact, over half of our attendants in our wedding were friends online! As long as we’ve been together, there have been a website which is still going as well. When people find out how we’ve met and our history, they are still shocked especially as we are still going strong as ever.
Social Media Expanding at the speed of light
Since 1997, things have just exploded in Social Media. In fact, one thing was there was actually a term for it eventually. Social Media was once only considered something that was done for geeks and people with a technology background because of what was involved. However, since 1998, accessing and using the internet has gotten very easy for everyone, so now everyone can use it. This is when businesses sat up and thought about the web and how to get productivity out of it. I know in my experience, the company I used to work for brought someone in to work on the website and everyone thought that it was weird. I explained why it wasn’t weird to have someone to work on the internet and intranet. Eventually, people realized my experience and I helped the person maintain and update the sites.
Once 2000, hit an explosion of Social Media hit. It seemed like you needed to be on it or else you were looked at weird. I just sat back and watched as by this point I had a MySpace and Facebook account but hadn’t really used them. I had these mainly because of family in the US being able to contact me easier, which means everything was still, for me, personal. I had many different forums and nicknames on Irc to use but started to feel as it wasn’t doing much for me.
In 2001, I lost my job because of part of the company being sold, and had a chance to sit back and look at the changes in the internet. I learned quite a bit – from blogging (I have 2
accounts – this one and a personal concepts blog) in different forms to the new coding on websites.
Once I was employed again, I was in charge of the website, email accounts and later was in the steering committee for Social Media for the regional government department I was in. In the past 2 years, I was in charge of the Social Media at our last Conference. People don’t seem to realize how many different ways Social Media is out there and used today. In fact, I’ve actually come up with categories to fit most of the types today. These are:
Over the years it’s been interesting to see how different people and departments viewed Social Media – some viewed it as an annoying little bug and wished it away, others wanted it to grow and then tried to stop it or have maximum control over it once it got going. However, I believe that everyone has to accept that no matter how you look at it, Social Media is here to stay.