Wednesday, February 10, 2010

The first social network? (It's all in how you label yourself.)

As of today, I am heavily involved in FriendFeed, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social networks.

In the past, I have been heavily involved in Yahoo, various bulletin board systems, and the network news system accessible via Reed College (precursor to Usenet).

Now most of the systems that I named above didn't even exist in the late 1980s, but there is one social network from the late 1980s that I didn't list.

Since you're reading this in the Empoprise-NTN blog, you can probably guess which network I'm talking about.

Here's how the Buzztime blog puts it:

Buzztime is a network of people from all over North America – competing, interacting… socializing, Sound familiar? Ends up we were onto something waaaay back in 1986… we just hadn’t labeled it “social network.”

An oft-used quote during a typical Buzztime product meeting goes something like this: ”We were a social network before people knew what a social network was.” We think that’s pretty spot-on.

Of course, the one difference between the Buzztime trivia network and, say, FriendFeed is that you don't have to go through extra hoops to hold a meetup.

[We] give our network of players a product by which to socially interact… in person… away from the computer and out in the world, and you’ve got a perfectly functioning network of networks. Let us illustrate:

Create game network –> players play games on network –> meet other players –> form social network –> social network facilitates players gathering to play game network –> repeat.

And there you have it – traditional in-your-face social networking, with all of the bells and whistles that actually come from physically being with actual people… socially. Brilliant.

So, what we’re trying to say is “We Win,” and we’re calling shotgun on the whole “First Social Network” thing.

Of course, once you state that the "computer" in a social network can be a Playmaker, you can extend the concept and say that the computer could be a quill pen. Then you can go back well before 1986...