Social Networking – Past, Present and Future

May 11th, 2011

socialnetworkIf you’re online, it’s not long before you’ll bump into icons for websites like Reddit, Digg, Mixx, Buzz, Twitter, or Facebook.  What are these sites?  They’re commonly referred to a “social networking” sites. It’s a popular phrase these days and according to, social networking is “the use of a website to connect with people who share personal or professional interests, place of origin, education at a particular school, etc.” People use these sites to share information and often their lives with friends and acquaintances or to follow businesses or events. The 2 most popular sites are Facebook and Twitter; Facebook currently has over 500 million users, half of which log onto the site daily. This means that 1 in 14 people on Earth have a Facebook page! Twitter is also immensely popular and estimates that its members send 100 million “tweets” each day.

As we have become more “connected” to the internet as a society, these sites have gained a special significance. Mobile phones are now called “mobile devices” and access to the internet and specifically to social networking sites is easier than ever. Once someone opens an account, which is free by the way, they can connect to friends and family and begin to share photos, news stories of interest, personal information, etc. Twitter is slightly different, allowing friends to share only short 140 character “texts” or a photograph with their group of friends, making it easy to take a picture of something on your phone and “tweet” it instantly. So a quick note or “tweet” like, “Mary’s on the way to the prom” with an accompanying photo can be seen by family and friends, no matter where they are.  Is this necessary? Maybe not, but right or wrong, this is how much of our communication is done these days. Consider this: a Pew Research study showed that 61% of Americans get some of their news online and 65% of people under 30 use the internet as their primary news source. Keep in mind too that almost every online news site has built-in, 1-click ways to send articles that you like directly to your Twitter or Facebook account to share. Information moves very quickly these days.

Across the Middle East and North Africa, more than 6 out of 10 people are under the age of 30, meaning that most have been exposed to the internet and the world outside their country for most of their lives. Growing up with this knowledge of life outside their borders and with ways to communicate instantly has played a significant role in the current conflicts. Activist Wael Ghonim of Egypt said “This revolution started online. This revolution started on Facebook….”

Cecil County Public Library has many books for beginners on using social networking sites, including Facebook for Dummies and Twitter for Dummies. If you’re looking to market your business or increase sales, try The Social Media Bible. Visit your local branch OR OUR FACEBOOK PAGE for more information.

What’s your favorite form of social media? Leave us a comment!

People Are Asking: Astrological Signs

April 14th, 2011

starsDo you know your astrological sign? Are you sure? There is an ancient gap between astrology and astronomy that has come to light recently and has spread over the internet faster than Sagittarius could shoot an arrow. Your zodiac sign is determined by the position of the sun relative to the overhead constellation on the day of your birth. A recent Pew survey shows that 25% of Americans believe that your sign determines certain personality traits.

First, the original zodiac included thirteen signs, but the ancient Babylonians rejected Ophiuchus as an astrological sign because they wanted twelve signs divided evenly, each encompassing thirty degrees of the sun’s path. This brings us to the second problem with the zodiac. The constellations are not the same size. It would stand to reason that more dates would be associated with a huge system like Pisces and less to the tiny constellation of Cancer, but again they wanted the signs to be divided equally. The International Astronomical Union published an official set of boundaries about sixty years ago bringing this anomaly to light, but the old zodiac hung on and nothing much changed. The third problem was noticed first by Hipparchus around 130BC (BCE) or Aristarchus of Samos (280BC) depending on the source. Either way, astronomers have known that the Earth wobbles like a top when it spins for a long, long time. This wobble takes about 26,000 years to complete but, because of distances involved, makes a big difference in the night skies.  Currently, the Earth’s North Pole aligns with Polaris, the North Star, but when the pyramids were constructed approximately 4500 year ago, it aligned with Thuban in the constellation Draco. It is predicted that in 12,000 years it will line up with Lyra in the Vega System.

For 86% of us, our sign is perhaps different than what we thought if Ophiuchus is counted as an astrological sign. Here are the new astrological dates containing the “new” super-cool sign Ophiuchus, the serpent bearer [oh-fee-YOO-kuhs]. To read more and watch the “Nightline” video, click here.

CAPRICORN (January 20 to February 16), AQUARIUS (February 16 to March 11), PISCES (March 11 to April 18), ARIES (April 18 to May 13), TAURUS (May 13 to June 21), GEMINI (June 21 to July 20), CANCER (July 20 to August 10), LEO (August 10 to September 16), VIRGO (September 16 to October 30), LIBRA (October 30 to November 23), SCORPIO (November 23 to November 29), OPHIUCHUS (November 29 to December 17), SAGITTARIUS (December 17 to January 20).

Do you have a question? Leave a comment or email us and your question might be featured!

People Are Asking is a weekly column in the Cecil Whig newspaper. It appears each Tuesday in the Accent section.

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