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Linking Young Minds Together
     Volume 2 Issue 40 | October 21 , 2007|


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Online Social Networking

By Mahdin Mahboob

"Oh My God! You are married! From stubborn tomboy to a mother of two!! I am so glad to have found you in Facebook, Anika!” Exclaimed Farah after she finally found her best friend with whom she had lost touch, on one of the popular mushrooming online social networks.

Online social networking has taken the world by storm and Bangladesh is no exception. Hi5, Facebook, Orkut, Myspace, well it's a never-ending list and don't worry, I won't tire you out by mentioning each and every one of them!

In today's fast paced world, the computer has become an integral tool for doing practically ANYTHING! Starting from office work to school home-works to entertainment, the PC is the answer to every single thing. Its utility increased manifolds with the easy availability of the Internet and sending letters and photos became just a matter of clicks. Then came the world of Online Social Networking and the definition of 'friendship' had an all-new meaning to young people all across the world.

The main purpose of Online Social Networking is to connect with friends old and new, and interact with people who have the same or similar interests. Members are often divided into groups or networks according to their institution or geographic location. And in the process when you finally meet your long lost friends, the trip down memory lane becomes much more than just bewilderment and discovering.

Of the major sites, Facebook has an estimated number of 34 million active members worldwide. It has gained an upper edge over the other sites because of the customizable privacy settings, easy exchange of information, photo tagging and a whole range of interesting applications which can be installed. Gone are the days of sending emails containing photos. On the last School Reunion I attended, I was loaded with a camera and everyone kept telling me, “Mahdin, upload the photos on Facebook and tag them”. And thus Communication is reaching new dimensions and being redefined.

Facebook was launched on February 4, 2004 by Mark Zuckerberg, a Computer Science student of Harvard University to keep in touch with his friends. Although the membership was initially restricted to students of Harvard University only, it was subsequently expanded to other Boston area institutions like Boston College, Boston University, Northeastern University, Tufts University, Rochester, Stanford, NYU, Northwestern, and all Ivy League Universities within two months. Many individual universities were added in rapid succession over the next few years. Eventually, people with a university (e.g: edu. ac.uk, etc.) email address from institutions across the globe were eligible to join. Networks were then initiated for high schools and some large companies. Since September 11, 2006, it has been made available to any email address user who inputs a certain age range.

Recently, news has come out that the owners of ConnectU, a rival social networking site, are seeking to shut down Facebook after alleging that its creator, Mark Zuckerberg, stole their ideas. The founders of ConnectU said Zuckerberg, Facebook's CEO and founder, agreed to help finish a computer code for their Web site but stalled and eventually launched Facebook. The lawsuit against him includes fraud, copyright infringement and misappropriation of trade secrets. ConnectU's founders are asking the court to shutdown Facebook and give control of the company and its assets to them. Whoever wins the court battle, it is not too likely that such a big business will be permanently shut down. It is guessed that the worst that can happen is the change of ownership instead of a complete shutdown. So all the ardent 'facebookers' can rest easy.

Currently, Facebook is thought to be the fastest growing online social network and has a number of interesting applications (some consider them evil) and a wide range of exciting groups.

Just to name a few:
"I hate getting random calls at 2am from people wanting to create friendship!"
"Anti-Nekami Corporation"

"I love my parents, but sometimes I just don't like them"
"30 things to do in an exam when you know you are going to fail it anyway!"
"If all falls in life, open a Roti-stand"

People invite their contacts to these groups to have discussions about the respective topics or just whine about it in general.

Some of the widely used applications are: Funwall, Superpoke, Boozemail, Graffiti walls, Gifts etc.

You can also compare yourself with your buddies or better yet, Superstars, including Disney characters, Cars, Drinks and so much more. Then there are applications where you will be attacked by zombies and vampires and you can bite back to win points!

Before there was any Facebook, there was Hi5. Well, at least in the case of Bangladesh it is very true. Almost everyone had a Hi5 account; in spite its limited features and the fact that it gave very little privacy. In Hi5, users can create an online profile in order to show information such as interests, age and hometown and upload user pictures where other users can post comments. Hi5 also recently added features, which allows the user to create personal photo albums and set up a music player in the profile. Users can also send friend requests via e-mail to other users.

Hi5 was very popular in Dhaka and the other major cities in Bangladesh until Facebook arrived.

Orkut is another popular social networking site and is owned by the Search Engine Moguls, Google.com. It is named after its creator, Google employee Orkut Büyükkökten. Orkut claims to be designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. Similar to Facebook, hi5 and MySpace, Orkut goes a step further by permitting the creation of easy-to-set-up simple forums (called "communities") of users. Since October 2006, Orkut has permitted users to create accounts without an invitation. In April 2007, Orkut introduced opinion polls in communities.

Myspace is believed to be the world's biggest Online Social Networking site but strangely, it has much less appeal in Bangladesh compared to US, UK, Canada and other English speaking countries. According to different sources, Myspace employs 300 staff and does not disclose revenues or profits. The company announced the creation of the 100 millionth on August 9, 2006, in the Netherlands and the site reportedly attracts new registrations at a rate of 230,000 per day. As of September 7, 2007, there are over 200 million accounts!

So it's all about your status and having your friends to know about it. And as far as birthdays are concerned, no more going through the calendars!

Source of information:
wikipedia, facebook, hi5,
myspace, google

Of Facebook and The Squirrel in a Ball Gown

Sarah ZH

Have we ever wondered how important it is to be ourselves than to be something we are not! I am hoping we have, since that is the notion I am going to use as the opening lines to make my point. Most people who will be reading this article is more or less familiar with sites like Hi5, MySpace and Facebook. Personally, I would prefer to call them our own little comfort zones that lets us be at ease without being overly conscious about our dear selves. I am ready to face denial from my friends but what I religiously believe is we all love ourselves and agreed upon or not like I said these sites are a great way to artifice. Interestingly enough, these sites not only allow us to be ourselves but endows us with myriad choices like making new friends, catching up with old ones, finding people, sharing experiences, connecting thoughts, getting a job or even falling in love! To me it is more like a companion who is patient enough to listen, charming enough to make me smile and gracious enough to forgive my faults. Folks! Too high sounding for a site called Face book? I think it deserves personification.Facebook is just as imperative as my school assignments, my write ups or even long naps! It is like my voice which rises and falls to the intonation of everyday life. It is a podium to initiate my contemplations. It ably reveals my being and my concerns.

The big question now is why I favor one particular site when there is an array of choices. I am going to start simply by saying I just love the lay outs, the page designs and the graphics that is offered by Face book. I find it tasteful and neat in its best of senses. I am happy with the security procedures which take away much of the stress and makes it more fun in being nothing but myself. I value the inspiration of striking photographs posted on the site that gives a boost to my vibe. Apart from the friendship part and its stereotypes Face book is a wonderful place to append colour to our expressions and lay bare our many-sided talents. It is a rewarding experience of understanding ourselves better through learning about others. Geting back to the 'why Face book?' issue again I would like to talk about a few features or commonly recognized as applications to Face book users as my favourite. The first one I choose to discuss would be the tarot application which shows a new tarot card everyday with motivating contents to stir things up. I'm also fond of the iRead application which presents one with the liberty to select books that one has read, is reading or even wants to read. Sticky note is another of my personal favourites; it allows one to leave tiny messages. All these are attached to one's profile making it a flamboyant stage of self appearance. There is a lot more than I have been able to let you all know. One last thing about Face book would be its sincerity in putting up our status right beside our names and as a squirrel in a ball gown, its goodbye for now. Till then, happy Face booking !

Copyright (R) thedailystar.net 2007