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Human horizons in social networking

By Tony Henderson - posted Thursday, 1 November 2007

In computers, a social networking site is an Internet online platform where a user can create a profile and build a personal network of online contacts that connects him or her to other users. The most well known is the mainstream, thus now suspect by the switched-on, MySpace. Following MySpace came sites such as Flickr - mainly for personal pictures, then everything diversified.

Steve Ming Yeow Ng is a mid-twenties Singaporean analyst associated with Draper Fisher Juvertson Vinacapital, based in Vietnam. He is also part of The Digital Movement (TDM), and travels to Singapore regularly for purposes that he claims are, "Shamelessly 2.0", meaning Web 2.0, though with the rejoinder that actually it is just the Web, since it's not as if a new version has been released.

"My core interests at this point in time include web x.0, new media, and psychology, but my main passion is really in leading and executing new and cool stuff - however you define new and cool!"


The Kickstart Asia event, organised by NextMedia on Bintang Island, Indonesia, late July 2007, attracted Ng and others of his ilk, plus IT journalists from around Asia, and equipment and software suppliers. At one of the sessions, Ng briefed the assembly with a talk entitled Web 2.0 and Beyond.

Interviewed at this event, Ng said: "I am very excited about the potential of collaborative Web-based applications gearing up productivity and effectiveness of teams within and outside organisations. Web apps like Attensa, Google Apps and Dabbledb all hint at a sea change in how people collaborate, and I want to be at the centre if it all, I want to put the human there!"

Despite his involvement with venture capitalism and mainstream IT applications, Ng admits: "I am a big fan of candour, straight talk, and irrelevance at work. After all, work is life, and life should be fun!"

His more recent interests brought him to social networking, which has evolved from its genesis in online bulletin boards. Facebook, a site similar to MySpace, figures prominently as an interface program for social networking. It is widely used, for example, by the spouses of US soldiers fighting in Iraq, as it is a means of communicating outside the control of the military. Kids also love Facebook.

"If you have a group of very young people wanting to be in touch with each other, they might use Facebook, but Facebook can be used for anything. The interesting thing lies in having one common central way of handling everything. One that cuts across all these different things, yet where they all use one standard interface to deliver information, they can communicate anywhere in the world."

For Ng, Facebook and its sister programs, such as Ning, are for all age groups because it is not just kids who talk what may seem nonsense to outside observers.


"The point is to just think about how to get the information to people. That's the most important thing to know. Right now there are several things that can be done to get the information into cyberspace: the postings, the emailings, the mass mailouts, all going to people. It is very easy, whatever works. Now it is so easy to do all of these things."

There are several forms of social networking tools. Blogs are a form of informal social network, meaning you can't really see the ties and links between the various people involved. People can check out the blog and see who has left comments but it is not known what the relationship among them all is.

There are also collaborative websites - wikis are a fine example of these - made up of the collective work of many authors. Similar to a blog in structure and logic, a wiki allows anyone to edit, delete or modify content that has been placed on the website including the work of previous authors, using a browser interface. This contrasts with a blog, which is typically written by an individual and does not allow visitors to change the original content, but only add comments.

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About the Author

Tony Henderson is a freelance writer and chairman of the Humanist Association of Hong Kong.

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All articles by Tony Henderson

Creative Commons LicenseThis work is licensed under a Creative Commons License.

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