An Overview of Collaborative and Social Networking Sites

By Nancy C. Muir

Although you may think kids are the only active group using social networking, that isn’t the case. In fact, people 35–54 years old make up a large segment of social networkers.

There are several types of sites where people collaborate or communicate socially. The following definitions may be useful:

  • Wiki: A website that allows anyone visiting to contribute (add, edit, or remove) content. Wikipedia, for example, is a virtual encyclopedia built by users providing information in their areas of expertise. Because of the ease of collaboration, wikis are often used when developing group projects or sharing information collaboratively.
  • Blog: An online journal (blog is short for web log) that may be entirely private, open to select friends or family, or available to the general public. You can usually adjust your blog settings to restrict visitors from commenting on your blog entries, if you’d like.
  • Social networking site: This type of website allows people to build and maintain a web page and create networks of people that they’re somehow connected to — their friends, work associates, and/or other members with similar interests. Most social networking sites also host blogs and have social networking functions that allow people to view information about others and contact each other.
  • Social journaling site: Sites such as Twitter allow people to post short notes online, notes that are typically about what they’re doing at the moment. Many companies and celebrities are now tweeting, as posting comments on Twitter is referred to. You can follow individuals on Twitter so you’re always informed if somebody you’re a fan of makes a post.

    Followers often comment on each other’s tweets with another short message. Tweets have a limit of 140 characters so tweets and responses to them have to be concise.

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