More about social networking

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by: Dick Stroud

Newsweek has an article about the way the 50-plus have miraculously discovered the joys of social networking.

Now here is a factlet for your next presentation: “1 million of the more than 215 million social networkers regularly active today are older than 50.” Who says so? A report from Deloitte (not yet available). The same report, so Newsweek says, forecasts the numbers to increase to 20 million.

I would think that my piece of wet seaweed (English slang for a tool to guess a number) is as good as Deloitte’s and a 0.5% share of over-50s users is way too low. Don’t believe all you read, even from swanky consultancies.

Yet another Factlet: Deloitte’s study predicts that baby boomers, unlike those of the MySpace generation, will be willing to pay subscription fees for sites that offer the tech support, services and privacy they desire”. You can sense a palpable increase in the entrepreneurial interest in the 50-plus and social networking as people read these words.

For the adventurous amongst you go to Google and press ‘Groups’ rather than using the default ‘Web’. Key in something like “over-50s” or ‘boomers’. You have just discovered the world of Newsgroups. There are 30,000+ of these groups that discuss everything you can possibly think of – the technical to the obscene.

Newsgroups were one of the first applications developed using the Internet, after e-mail. We are talking many decades before the Web was born. Today’s boomers were the founders and users of newsgroups. As much as every generation likes to think the things they do are unique they are often only a technical improvement on something that has gone before. So it is with social networking. When you deconstruct all of the nonsense that is talked about Web 2.0 it all comes down to creating some good (and some bad) ways for humans to communicate – that ain’t new.

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