The Progression of Social Media In the 21st Century


“Whoever controls the media, controls the mind”.

Jim Morrison

Maya Sandiford


In the past decade , the progression of computer technology, mass media and social networking sites have become an international phenomenon. To determine the success of  Facebook (the largest social networking site today) I investigated two social networking web sites. Interestingly enough, almost everyone I know has created a Facebook account or has heard of this networking site. On the other hand, not so many are aware of one of its predecessors, the Whole Earth ‘Lectronic  Link; more commonly known as The Well.  This site was founded in 1985 by Lary Billiant and Steward Brand, it is one of the oldest virtual communities, and is still utilized by about 4000 users today. The members of this community have “access to tools and ideas” of people with similar interests ranging from serious topics and issues to humorous subjects and discussions as well as access to “conferences or forums” enabling users to exchange their views on particular subjects and gain knowledge on topics of their interests. This virtual community was a major stepping stone toward today’s Facebook or My Space.


Face book founded by Mark Zuckerberg in 2003, is a much larger, more common and an internationally known net working site with an astounding 800 million users. The Well is comprised of  a much smaller, more specific community that share something in common.  Although both web sites are predominantly used for social networking,  I noticed a important difference while navigating through each site in the content of each. Both sites have a “Profile” that reflects the user’s personal information they wish to share, how ever the content and focus of these profiles seemed to be dissimilar. I noticed that Face book displays the user’s personal, distinctive information such as pictures, relationship status, name, age, birthday, residence, high school, and even the language the individual may speak; where as the profile or home page of The Well includes more interest, hobbies, themes tastes, and interests. For example when you click on the following hyperlinks  you are introduced to a series of personal interests and hobbies or  opposed to Facebook`s Profiles where a number of personal traits and pictures would appear However one of the most prominent differences was the contrast in size the most likely reason for the vast difference in the popularity and usage of the sites, is the 10 dollar per month member ship fee that is charged to become a member of The Well. Facebook is free to millions of users, I believe that if Facebook started to charge a monthly fee their users would drop dramatically. It will be interesting to see how the social networking sites will progress in the decade to come. Presentation

Alexandra Downing Watkins and Joy Richu presented the class with the evolution of, an Online Magazine that has a wide range of readership. The website was founded by David Talbot in 1995 and topics include many aspects of journalism, such as politics, news and entertainment. was very successful at introducing the Salon Radio that gives readers the opportunities to download music and interviews online.

Through the web designs on, we can see that advertisements are increasing in number because the ads are a source of revenue for the company. The 2009 website contains advertisements at the top, and the more recent layout in the website contains many more ads displayed on the page. This following article shows the layout for many other websites that contains advertisements and the impact of online advertising. later faced a stock market crash ” The Dot-Com Downturn” in 2000, and were not making the profits that were expected to be earned. Many internet companies were also affected by this market crash, and this website teach investors on what they can learn about this stock market crash.

However, Salon. com was still able to be nominated for the “Best Interactive Feature” in a 2009 National Magazine Awards with a number of other achievements.

In February 2011, failed to merge with and faced many obstacles. In October 2011, there is an relaunch of the website under the banner of “Amercian Spring” by the founder of

– Yu-Ting (Tiffany) Cheng a new media pioneer–by April Chan

“SALON.COM”—a presentation by Alexandra Downing Watkins and Joy Richu


“” is one of the pioneers of online media magazine. It was founded by journalist David Talbot in the year 1995 with the aim to broaden the boundaries of journalism. The magazine updated every weekday and is mainly focused on U.S. politics and personal affairs, but as well included reviews and articles about lifestyle and entertainments such as books, films and music etc. Not only being the pioneer of online publication, had also established an online radio in 1999. has adopted the concept of “readers’ online interactions” from another virtual community The WELL ( long before the popularization of blogging and social networks such as Twitter and Facebook.



A timeline would be better to demonstrate the progress of between 1995 and 2012.

1995 — and was launched by David Talbot

1999 —Salon Radio was launched

—purchased online community The WELL

— officially went public and raised $2,500,000 revenue mainly through ads

2000— as an effect of the stock market crash, internet “.com” recession occur

2001—Salon Premium online content subscription ($30/month) OR free access with                 advertisements à lost a lot of membership

2008— “Open Salon”, a social and blogging network, was launched with the capacity                        for readers to blog and post comments on it à increased in viewership


2011— the plan of selling to was failed due to disagreement over price

— Online discussion board and interactive forum closed down with no official                            reason

— David Talbot returned as CEO and the site re-launched

Impacts on nowadays media (and what do I think =), as one of the first online magazine, had basically started the revolution and transformation of a new form of media—an online, writer-reader interactive, free-access media. This new format has completely changed the habit and role of both readers and writers. It not only enables readers to have 24-hour access in any part of the world but also allowed viewers to take part in the process of news media through websites like Open Salon. The launching of Open Salon and other online forums/discussion boards also help to develop a new idea of “citizen journalism”, in which bloggers are able to post articles, if not first-handed news and videos, via internet and share them worldwide to other viewers. Nevertheless, there are as well downsides of these new platforms; as Joy and Alexandra had mentioned today, the openness to different bloggers has caused the lost of creditability of the online magazine. Not like the old media which are treated to be objective, or even “divine” (in terms of its disinterestedness to day-to-day events), websites like Open Salon are tend to be more personal and biased due to the lack of control towards news posts; these, thus, believed to be less trustworthy then traditional newspaper. The viewers nowadays have subtly changed their attitudes to be more and more skeptical on these news sources. Therefore, did helped in changing the new style of media and journalism and I truly feel that it opened up a lot of opportunities for readers to be more active on participating in everyday news—from community wide to worldwide. If there’s not a website like back in the 90s, the new media as well as social networking might not be that sophisticated as now they are.


A little sidetrack (if you are interested…)

David Talbot had also written a book called”Brothers: The Hidden History of the Kennedy Years” to reveal some new information about the assassination of President JFK!

Legacy of The WELL

As a gen-y kid, it is impossible to ignore the importance of social-networking. Our online persona defines us, and by a very large extent, shapes who we are. We all know (or live in) the success of Facebook, currently the world’s largest online community with an army of 800 million users. While Facebook’s dominance is incontestable and indefinitely surging, we all know the basic rule to life: everything that goes up must come down. Though the future of Facebook is hard to predict, sites like MySpace and Friendster have proven the legitimacy of this theory, losing the battle against Facebook’s puissance. However, we cannot turn a blind eye to the wonderful days we had with them, just like how we cannot forget the contributions of The WELL, one of the oldest and most influential virtual communities still in operation today.

The Whole Earth ‘Lectronic Link, more commonly known as The WELL, was founded in 1985 by Lary Brilliant and Stewart Brand. The website is essentially an online community that allows its members around the world to get “access to tools and ideas.” The website facilitates interactions and discussions through web forums, emails and personal webpages, very much like Facebook today. The WELL’s online forums, better known as conferences, allow online communities to engage in private or public discussions, offer personal opinions and express interests in certain topics. The conferences are grouped by subjects, and one can easily gain access to a specific kind of discussion by navigating around the forum. Conferences were first of their kind, and it is often dubbed “the heart of The WELL.”

If you want a clearer picture, be sure check this out the conference page itself.
However, if you want to see the actual discussions, you have to create an account for yourself (and by the way, these accounts are not free.)

Allow me to sidetrack a little, as I am rather puzzled at why The WELL would charge its users $10 a month for their accounts. There are so many free alternatives out there, like Gaia OnlineDeviantArtand IMBd, etc. These websites target specific audiences with similar interests and provide their basic services free of charge. I know The WELL is ad-free but I’m not sure if this is a wise move for an online business. I guess the current business model of the website explains why the community has only 4,000 members today, a relatively small number for a virtual community that has been around for almost 27 years.

Another key feature of The WELL is its member pages. Think of this as the pioneer model for social-networking profiles. Users can post up photos, personal information, contact numbers and design the pages according to their own tastes. If they wish, they may also turn their member pages into blogs. Today, most members use their pages as a means of advertising or promoting their companies or causes.

Some examples of existing member pages:

Although The WELL has lost its appeal to general netizens today, it is important to learn about its importance and how it revolutionised virtual communities. Being one of the pioneering social-networking sites, The WELL has left a legacy one simply cannot overlook.

If you want to learn more about The WELL, here is an interview BBC had with Stewart Brand, one of the founders of website.

PS: Did you know that the term “virtual community” was coined by social commenter Howard Rheingold after he explored with The WELL?

Posted by Skyler Wang (42814111).

Dancing Baby

Today in my Journalism 100 class, Matt and Frances gave a presentation about the ‘Dancing Baby’ video that was released and went viral in 1996.

The video was created using ‘Kinetix’ animations software by a team including Michael Girard.  Social networking sites like YouTube and Facebook weren’t created at the time, but the video did go viral through e-mails and compulsive forums.  It was even broadcast on TV, appeared in video games, and was shown during the half time of basketball games.

This dancing baby video wasn’t marketed, which means that people were able to take the video and adapt it and remix it into their own versions.  Many times, people would just take the same animation loop and apply a different audio, mainly a different song.  I found a version that actually incorporated a ‘baby rap’ as the song that used an edited baby laughing as the lyrics to a beat.

The original dancing baby video was one of the very first viral Internet videos and Internet memes.  The dancing baby is still popular today as people are continuing to upload their own variations of the original content.  This video was uploaded as recently as 2009 which shows that the internet meme has persisted.

Although the dancing baby was very popular in the late 90’s and is still viewed today, more recent videos have had similar exposure.  One example that I thought of before Matt and Frances even mentioned it in their presentation was the Nyan Cat.

This video is very similar to the dancing baby in that it just an animation loop replayed with simple, yet somewhat annoying, audio in the background.   It has gone extremely viral and reached over 60,000,000 views in less than a year on YouTube alone. Like the dancing baby, the Nyan Cat video wasn’t marketed.  There are many different types of Nyan Cats on YouTube today.  Here is one of my favorites:

I have learned from this presentation how such simple animation loops can go viral, and when they are not marketed, how people love to use the content to make their own version of the video.  This can be seen in the 90’s with the dancing baby video and in 2011 with the Nyan Cat videos.  The only difference between the 90’s and today is how these videos are spreading.  Today with social networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Tumbler and the most important video site, YouTube, videos can be shared and viewed by millions almost instantly.  The use of smartphones has also allowed for quicker and more constant access to these videos.  Today it is also much easier for people to manipulate an original video.   This explains why there are thousands of variations of the Nyan Cat and more recent variations of the dancing baby.

I’ve actually noticed a similar trend occurring right now on YouTube with the “Sh*t xxx Say” meme.    “Sh*t Girls Say” was uploaded in December 2011 and many people now are creating their own versions of the video.  There is even a “Sh*t UBC Says” which has become quite popular.

– Alyssa Gauk

Lauren Friesen Blog 1

“The Dancing Baby”, a presentation by Frances Young and Matt Harris, was about one of the first viral videos, and the rise of these videos on sites such as youtube since then.

Software programmer Michael Girard wanted to show off his Kinetix Animation Software in a creative way that would interest viewers. He developed a 3D character animation of a baby dancing. This animation did more than he had hoped for when it spread throughout the web as a highly popular video- not only did people find it amusing to watch, but they took on adaptations of their own. Because this video was royalty free, people were able to remix it, and upload it all over the web. This phenomenon is especially prominent in the internet world, because it was one of the first pieces of widespread media that was not backed by an advertiser, but shared between users for their own personal enjoyment. Since then, this video has been seen in broadcast television, video games, and email across the globe. This marks the beginning of a new era of entertainment- the viral video. Below is a link to the dancing baby video.

Many other viral videos have become popular in the last few years with the help of youtube. With an element of humour, and a catchy image, these videos have become well known, especially in developed countries where almost everyone can be found with a mobile phone and an internet at home. Some of my personal favourites are as follows…

Trololo Guy

Eduard Khil, a Russian baritone singer from the 1960’s regained his spotlight in 2010 after a video of him singing went viral on youtube. His song, a mixture of random sounds and awkward faces, made for comedy gold.

Grape Lady Falls

Originally aired as a news clip in MyFox Atlanta, this gem first aired on youtube in 2006. It starts off depicting two women in a grape-stomping contest. After one makes a playful attempt at cheating, she quickly trips and falls flat on her face. Ohh the karma.

The next few videos have become famous both from the hilarity of the original, and from the amount of times they have been remixed. These are a few of the most popular…

Keyboard Cat

This footage was from 1984 of a cat owned by Charlie Schmidt, who moved the cat to look like it was playing a simple tune on the piano. This meme became famous after it was added to the end of various blooper videos to “play” that person off screen after their mistake.

Bed Intruder

Antoine Dodson’s flamboyant and passionate interview on the local news became an internet sensation after it was made into an auto-tuned song by The Gregory Brothers on youtube.


-Lauren Friesen