Social media is revolutionizing celebrity-dom, news consumption and the way we spread information – as seen by the overnight popularity of Rebecca Black, Charlie Sheen-mania, real-time coverage of Japan and global protests for democracy. Cyber anthropology is rapidly becoming an important focus for media researchers, uncovering deep insights into the transformation of consumer behavior in today’s society.
To celebrate 75 years of the Advertising Research Foundation, PeopleBrowsr is publishing a series of artwork illustrating the History of Social Networking. PeopleBrowsr commissioned an artist to visually communicate our research on the progression of social media – first unveiled at the opening of our San Francisco Social Media Command Center.
Highlighting a few recent events in our timeline, here are two interpretations of the latest and greatest social media sensations…
Both Charlie Sheen and Rebecca Black are testaments to the power of viral acceleration. Social media is having an enormous effect on the rapid dissemination of information and the phenomena of the internet fame game.
Looking into the not-so-distant past of Marshall McLuhan’s era, we see thatthe medium is the message.
We want to celebrate the milestones of this amazing industry, by recognizing the events that led to our current social media (Re)Evolution and presenting a chronology of social streams. Through assembling the collective intelligence, we observe numerous things happening in the Twitterverse – and we are passionately curious about the events made popular by social networking, emerging trends and spikes in mentions.
The History of Social Media
Our story begins in the 1930’s with The Notificator, which allowed Londoners to leave messages for friends on “robot” message boards for a small fee. Many social media observers have categorized the Notificator as the first predecessor of Twitter.
The social aspect of new technologies has evolved with innovation, especially ‘on the line’. From the telephone box to wireless mobile networking, it’s almost as if we’ve come full circle. In the 1950s, technophiles used telephone networks as rogue ways to mass communicate and the first podcasts took place on hijacked corporate phone lines. As of 2010, mobile wireless networking penetrated 98% of the US population.
When CompuServe became the first commercial online service in 1969, it took a mere decade before Bulletin Board Systems became the first ‘forums’, or social communities connected on the line. 1989-1991 revolutionized the development of media technology, as Tim Berners-Lee began developing the World Wide Web and the first web site was built at CERN.
Throughout the 1990s, emerging tech companies and globalization forever changed the way we communicate – with the mass adoption of forums, web search, email and text messaging. Before the decade had ended, Google had indexed over 60 million pages and AOL Instant Messaging had come to homes across America.
By Twitter’s launch in 2006, social media networking had reached widespread popularity and mass global adoption, following Facebook’s introduction in 2004 and YouTube hitting the market by storm in 2005. The rise of user-generated contentsites like Digg and Reddit (with IcanHasCheezburger and 4chan), combined with the popularity of easy-to-use blogging services, includingWordPress and Blogger (also created by Evan Williams of Twitter), aided in the rapid development of personal websites, shared content and online media.
Businesses quickly began to recognize the power of Web 2.0, adopting social media strategies and hiring community managers. Virgin America experienced great success engaging customers on Twitter, and the public relations industry started seeing the benefits of listening in real-time for consumer response. Not too long ago, we saw the rise in freemium social media platforms and customized services. When ReSearch.ly launched in 2010, the social media landscape had evolved into communities connected by the interest graph.
Every year we’re seeing the rise of popular new services that allow us to share our lives and spread news, such as Posterous and Tumblr, FourSquare, SlideShare,Flickr and Instgram. Mobile technology, like the iPhone and Andriod, has made it even easier to access web content; data is moving to the cloud and applications are being built in browsers. It’s an exciting time to be online, as we’re in an era that’s transforming the collective memory – millions of conversations and posts – into the collective intelligence, filtered by keywords, sentiment, geo-location, and bio information.
As data mining and marketing researchers, we’re continuously documenting and communicating the history of this great industry we’re helping to build.
Sitting above each windowsill, outlining our San Francisco Social Media Command Center, lay 24 boards with 24 historical events describing the evolution of social media. We’re continuously adding to the collection as major stories unfold, to capture the impact and continued transformation of Web 3.0.
We commissioned the artist, Adam Long, to transform the research we compiled into incredible illustrations that are delightful and easy to understand.
Having the life many artists dream of, Adam spends his time drawing cartoons, commercial illustrations and storyboards for TV commercials, while living a short five minutes from the sea in Bondi. When not working on upcoming deadlines, the smiling Aussie describes sunny Bondi as the perfect place to relax, “where a freelance artist can nip down for a swim on a hot day.”
We’re constantly searching for ways to visually communicate the research we conduct. Recently, we recently commissioned an artist to create a History of Social Networking Timeline, featuring illustrations of social media sensations like Rebecca Black and Chalie Sheen. The series of panels paint the story of this great industry we’re helping to build.
In celebration of the Advertising Research Foundation’s 75th Anniversary, we’ve released The History of Social Networking in honor of the tech and media researchers, content creators and early adopters that have helped to advance social media technology and research.
We’d like to thank the artist, Adam Long, for his wonderful contribution to our Social Media Command Centers. His work on the timeline inspires us to continue making history in this incredible industry.
The Man Behind the Art
Imagine a 6ft 3in tall, stetson-fedora-clad Aussie strolling the streets of San Francisco, hunting for rare finds at the Alameda antique market and enjoying views of the Golden Gate bridge with a smile that never leaves his face. That’s Adam Long – the artist who created the beautiful artwork for our History of Social Media timeline.
Having the life many artists dream of, Adam spends his time drawing cartoons, commercial illustrations and storyboards for TV commercials, while living a short five minutes from the sea in Bondi. When free from upcoming deadlines, the smiling Aussie describes sunny Bondi as the perfect place to relax, “where a freelance artist can nip down for a swim on a hot day.”
Adam refers to his art as “lowbrow” and we’re enamored by his fun, cartoonish style. He has created artwork for us in other Social Media Command Centers and he’s our favorite illustration artist. When we presented him with the chance to visit San Francisco for the first time, he hopped on board to create a History of Social Networking Timeline. For him, it was “too good an opportunity to pass up” and before long, he was en route stateside accompanied by his favorite paints, fine hair brushes and a sense of excitement.
From the moment Adam arrived, he put himself to work, completing the task of designing 24 separate pieces of art in less than one week. He was a source of inspiration and a delight to have around!
The First Unveiling
With much anticipation, Adam finished illustrating the timeline with ease and the art was ready for display at our launch party.
Throughout the the evening, eyes were on the artwork displaying the timeline. Lucky for us, we had Adam at the party to show off – as he’s seen here, happily chatting with guests!
We love the aesthetic of Adam’s work and it brightens the room, along with the colorful bike rack holding our beloved European-style bikes, from Public Bikes in South Park… it’s so fun riding these cool wheels around town!
The Social Media Command Center in SoMa has truly become our home. An incubator space, social engagement hub, crisis management room, real-time response and product testing lab, event venue, and a place for our clients to experience our Platform and services.
We’re delighted that Adam has agreed to continue illustrating the history of social media. Looking forward to having him back in San Francisco!