The inventors of ARPANET (Advanced research Projects Agency Network) had never imagined that their invention to connect two remote military servers would later become the backbone network to connect over 3 billion different computers worldwide.
Today, the Internet has reached more than 130 countries around the globe and connects different users and services irrespective of their geographical location. The reason that had made internet so popular was the ease with which remote users can communicate with each other. Various modes of communication included e-mail, chat, etc. But the 21st century saw a more refined way of communication over the internet and we call this new version of communication “Social Networks”.
Social Network is a single term that encapsulates all the popular modes of communication over the internet with lot more advanced features. It not only helps in making communication easier but it also helps to build a social circle of people whom we know. It provides us an interface popularly called as the ‘friend list’ or ‘social list’ where we can build up a category to add people we know. The user can categorize his/her list of friends into different classes such as college friends, colleagues, doctors etc.
This categorization makes it easier to share information only with the relevant class, for example, sharing an official document with the ‘colleagues’ class only. The social networks have now taken communication and collaboration to a new level by integrating various features like group video chat, sending group messages, sharing information etc.
Even though social networks have been criticized several times because of various incidents related to physical and mental abuses but the overall impact is still far bigger. One out of every 2.5 user on the internet has a social profile and it has now become one of the biggest sources of traffic over the internet.
Social networks have totally revolutionized the way users communicate over the internet by integrating different communication mediums under a single channel. From sending messages as short as 140 words to sharing high definition videos, social networks have been a single stop for the users. It would be too early to comment on what will be the future of social networks but the current scenario suggests that in the long run of internet, there are yet many areas to be explored in the field of social networking.
The author is an Engineering Graduate from Varanasi, Uttar Pradesh and currently a Software Engineer at Tata Cunsultancy Services. He has a keen interest in Technology, Hacking and Network Security. He also actively writes for several national magazines of India.