Online Social Networks, Virtual Communities, Enterprises, and Information Professionals — Part 1. Past and Present
by Mike Reid, Vice President, Sales and Business Development, Cognition Technologies, Inc. and Christian Gray, Senior Account Executive, Safari Books Online, LLC
Most organizations ... ours included ... are just beginning to experiment with meaningful social networking. What will it take for most of us to make the transition from business-as-usual … to business in a wired-in world of online social networking where our personal, professional, and corporate online reputations are critical to success? First and foremost ... I believe it will take the unique knowledge ... experience ... and vision of information professionals like you.
--Janice LaChance Chief Executive Officer Special Libraries Association
Building on its 10,000,000th new member, the business-centered, online social network LinkedIn adds more than 10 new members every minute  ; MySpace adds more than 150 new members every minute.  “This is a revolutionary new approach to knowledge exchange. With these tools, we have the benefit of access to everyone’s brain working on a problem,” says Charles Chaney, president and CEO of Biomedical Engineering Central [http://www.bmecentral.com]. Online social networking software allows users to discover, extend, manage, and leverage their personal networks online. As defined by Microsoft’s Social Computing Group, a virtual community is “a gathering of people in an online space where individuals come together to connect, interact, and get to know each other better over time.” We will use these definitions here. We will focus on the use of these tools for professionals working in organizations and institutions. We will not focus on consumer-oriented social networking services such as YouTube and MySpace, though the impact and interaction between consumer use of these new tools does affect enterprise use.