Just read a rather interesting article, The Ruins of Dead Social Networks. It brought back memories of sitting in my college dorm, searching through text file lists of BBS’s and dialing them up on a screechy 2400 baud modem to see what they had. Mostly, I was downloading files. Though there was socializing in those days as well, my virtual social life was spent on the larger national pay services. My “social networks,” in the current sense, were on GEnie (where a lot of science fiction authors hung out before the internet was the web & where some little known SF and TV writer announced “That Which Cannot Be Named”–later revealed to be Babylon 5) and, even further back, in high school, on the Commodore 64 network, QLink. I still remember when there was a mass exodus from GEnie to that new upstart (and supposedly much better) America Online, before they became merely an abbreviation, AOL.
From the above article, here’s a link to someone who is trying to archive a lot of the old text files from the BBS days: Textfiles.com. Though I wasn’t directly involved in that scene, it still brings a twinge of vicarious nostalgia.
I guess if you’re looking for a moral, it’s just this: don’t get too attached to your Facebooks and your Twitters. Maybe they have reached a critical mass that makes them too big to fail. But the ruins of social networks littering the past suggests their time is limited.