Before Networking Was Social: Ten Early Social Websites That Are Dead or Dying
Social networking today is a foregone conclusion. Many of us wake up and check Twitter on our smart phones or pull up Facebook on our laptops. We surf YouTube videos in our spare time, find dates on Match.com and spend hours reading music, politics, health and life on blogs all over the web.
Who needs Classmates.com when we have Facebook?
What seems commonplace today was born out of years of missteps and failed attempts. In ten years, some of the sites we consider a part of our daily lives today will be like the list we offer you today. These were the websites that started it all for social networking and are either dead or withering on the vine. We're guessing Facebook won't join them, but considering a few of the names on this list and their one-time dominance, you never know.
The Internet Underground Music Archive was once the place to discover new music. It broke bands and gave independent musicians their first place to showcase their talents. Long before the MP3 existed, before music blogs pimped bands and earbuds blasted songs into everyone's ears, artists and fans could share their love of music online at IUMA. Like most cool websites, it started with a bunch of college kids and failed because technology changed and they couldn't keep up -- a sad but common refrain in the early days of the internet.
9. Make-Out Club
Make-Out Club is considered by many to be the first social networking site. If you have never heard of it, it's likely because you are not a hipster or an emo kid because MOC is Facebook for the indie set. The site was founded by punk musician Gibby Miller and it has always had a decidedly musical bent. Over the years, the now disparate concepts MOC once brought together -- music, pop counterculture and matchmaking -- have gone their separate ways and MOC has faltered. While it still exists in theory, it is mostly now a place for pouty, pale college kids to hook up and talk about their latest American Apparel purchase.
The web often seems like one big happy hour. The entire thing is about connecting people with information or with each other and that almost always leads to, well, you know. Because the internet is a visual medium, pictures are the primary commodity when it comes to people finding each other online. Hotornot.com cut to the chase by allowing people to post photos and users to rate them on a scale of ten (hot) to one (not). Eventually, in what seems a natural progression, the photo rating site added a dating area where people can get past the photos and on to the, well, you know. In 2008, HotorNot.com was purchased for $20 million, but it doesn't have the appeal it once did and with literally billions of photos floating around the web, who needs HotorNot to find them?
Before there was Facebook, there was Friendster. This early social networking site provided many of the same basic services as Facebook, but with a much more awkward interface (which is saying a LOT). For years, Hair Balls got e-mails from its defunct Friendster account and one day they just stopped coming. Turns out, while Friendster may be all but dead in the U.S., its popularity as a social gaming site has grown in Asia after they hired ex-Google exec Richard Kimber and began expanding to the far east. In 2009, Friendster was purchased by one of Asia's biggest internet companies. We sometimes miss our old Friendster e-mails, but since the only thing we can say in an Asian language is pho, we don't really mind.
There was a time when everyone wanted a personal website covered in glitter and animated gif's with MIDI versions of crappy songs playing in the background. If that era in internet history was disco, Geocities was Studio 54. The free web hosting service provided space for every nerd in America to post pictures of Counselor Troi and synopses of Dr. Who episodes. The flashing banner ads and black background were enough to give kids a seizure, which seems appropriate since the service is now only available in Japan after Yahoo shut it down in the U.S. a few years ago due to dwindling popularity.