As we have found in class, it is very difficult to classify the ideas and terms of Web 2.0, Social Media, and Social Networking Sites. Thinking about the technical definitions and the social implications I propose there are 4-5 major categories. These categories attempt to take behavior and use into account with their popularity and visibility.
Major Social Networking Sites
These social networking sites are the ones that are most popular, and have few or almost no restrictions on membership. These sites also incorporate other sites and links. These sites as the ones that someone who isn’t actively pursuing social networks would be able to easily recognize.
Social Tools and Bridges
These social networking sites are ones that link social networking sites. Bridges link users to other social media websites. For example, Twitter posts can be made on Facebook, and take users to a social networking site such as Get Glue or other social networking websites. Its primary use is to integrate other sites.
The other sub-distinction that can be made are tools. Tools are those that function separate from a given social networking site, but has the capability to incorporate only 1 or more sites. In these tools, users are (generally) not looking to network with other users of these tools.
Mutual Interest Social Networking Sites
These social networking sites are ones that have a specific mutual interest among the users. Users will generally want to interact with one another about their mutual interests or hobbies. For example, Hockey Barn is a website dedicated to fostering hockey communities and leagues. Users can post their stats, and team updates to share with other people who play hockey. Another example is Flixter where people who like movies can share what they think of specific movies with their friends. These sites are meant to connect people who have similar interests.
Exclusive Networking Sites
These social networking sites, are very similar to mutual interest sites. The big difference is that these sites have inherent requirements to be a part of the given social networking site. Most of the time, these are beyond a hobby or being a fan of something specific. Sometimes these rules are strict, but in other cases it’s assumed. For example, J-Date is a Jewish dating website where it’s assumed that all the members are Jewish because people use the website to find other Jewish singles. Another example, would be The Ladders, where it’s assumed that users make or have made over $100,000 per year. Religion, profession, and socio-economics tend to be the factors that require or promote exclusivity.
With the definitions now made, it could be concluded that I see social networking like a group of Islands. The social networking sites are secluded unless they are integrated via bridges. While it is true that more than one SNS can fit in more than one category, maybe these are ways we can help organize SNS in a way that also defines the behavior and use of these sites.
Maybe my vision of social networking and social media is closest to this XKCD strip.