Mark Zuckerberg, in full Mark Elliot Zuckerberg, (born May 14, 1984, White Plains, New York, U.S.), American computer programmer who was cofounder and CEO (2004– ) of Facebook, a social networking Web site.
After attending Phillips Exeter Academy, Zuckerberg enrolled at Harvard University in 2002. On February 4, 2004, he launched thefacebook.com (renamed Facebook in 2005), a directory in which fellow Harvard students entered their own information and photos into a template that he had devised. Within two weeks half of the student body had signed up. Zuckerberg’s roommates, Dustin Moskovitz and Chris Hughes, helped him add features and make the site available to other campuses across the country. Facebook quickly became popular as registered users could create profiles, upload photos and other media, and keep in touch with friends. It differed from other social networking sites, however, in its emphasis on real names (and e-mail addresses), or “trusted connections.” It also laid particular emphasis on networking, with information disseminated not only to each individual’s network of friends but also to friends of friends—what Zuckerberg called the “social graph.”
In the summer of 2004 the trio moved their headquarters to Palo Alto, California, where Zuckerberg talked venture capitalist Peter Thiel into giving them seed money. Zuckerberg dropped out of Harvard to concentrate on the fledgling company, of which he became CEO and president. In May 2005 Facebook received its first major infusion of venture capital ($12.7 million). Four months later Facebook opened to registration by high-school students. Meanwhile, foreign colleges and universities also began to sign up, and by September 2006 anyone with an e-mail address could join a regional network based on where he or she lived. About that time Zuckerberg turned down a $1 billion buyout offer from Yahoo!, but in 2007 Facebook struck a deal with Microsoft in which the software company paid $240 million for a 1.6 percent stake in Facebook; two years later Digital Sky Technologies purchased a 1.96 percent share for $200 million. In 2008 Zuckerberg’s new worth was estimated at about $1.5 billion. After Facebook’s initial public offering (IPO) of stock in 2012, Zuckerberg’s net worth was estimated at more than $19 billion.
virtual community, a group of people, who may or may not meet one another face to face, who exchange words and ideas through the mediation of digital networks.
The first use of the term virtual community appeared in a article by Gene Youngblood written in 1984 but published in 1986 about Electronic Cafe (1984), an art project by artists Kit Galloway and Sherrie Rabinowitz that connected five restaurants around Los Angeles and an art museum through a live video link. The term gained popularity after a 1987 article written by Howard Rheingold for The Whole Earth Review. In The Virtual Community (1993), Rheingold expanded on his article to offer the following definition:
Rheingold’s article and book are cited as the foundational works of cyberculture studies. Many subsequent commentators have contested Rheingold’s use of the word community and the terminology used to describe the technosocial phenomena of persistent computer-mediated relationships; social media and participatory media are also used to describe a very broad variety of human social activity online.
The first predictions of communities of computer-linked individuals and groups were made in 1968 by J.C.R. Licklider and Robert Taylor, who as research administrators for the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) set in motion the research that resulted in the creation of the first such community, the ARPANET, which was the precursor of the Internet. Licklider and Taylor wrote,
Even before the ARPANET, in the early 1960s, the PLATO computer-based education system included online community features. Douglas Engelbart, who ran the ARPANET’s first Network Information Center, had grown a “bootstrapping community” at the Stanford Research Institute (SRI), located at Stanford University in California, through use of his pioneering oNLine System (NLS) before the ARPANET was launched.
By the beginning of the 21st century, the four computer nodes (University of California at Los Angeles, SRI, University of California at Santa Barbara, and University of Utah) that constituted the ARPANET community in 1969 had expanded to include some one billion people with access to the Internet. With several billion mobile telephones with Internet connections now in existence, a significant portion of the human population conduct some of their social affairs by means of computer networks. The range of networked activities has greatly expanded since Rheingold described bulletin board systems (BBSs), chat rooms, mailing lists, USENET newsgroups, and MUDs (multiuser dungeons) in 1993. In the 21st century people meet, play, conduct discourse, socialize, do business, and organize collective action through instant messages, blogs (including videoblogs), RSS feeds (a format for subscribing to and receiving regularly updated content from Web sites), wikis, social network services such as MySpace and Facebook, photo and media-sharing communities such as Flickr, massively multiplayer online games such as Lineage and World of Warcraft, and immersive virtual worlds such as Second Life. Virtual communities and social media have coevolved as emerging technologies have afforded new kinds of interaction and as different groups of people have appropriated media for new purposes.
The emergence of globally networked publics has raised a number of psychological, sociological, economic, and political issues, and these issues have in turn stimulated the creation of new courses and research programs in social media, virtual communities, and cyberculture studies. In particular, the widespread use of online communication tools has raised questions of identity and the presentation of self, community or pseudocommunity, collective action, public sphere, social capital, and quality of attention.
A number of different critiques arose as cyberculture studies emerged. A political critique of early online activism questioned whether online relationships offered a kind of comforting simulation of collective action. On close inspection, the question of what actually defines a community has turned out to be complex: American sociologist George A. Hillery, Jr., compiled 92 different definitions. Canadian sociologist Barry Wellman defined community as “networks of interpersonal ties that provide sociability, support, information, a sense of belonging, and social identity”—and offered empirical evidence that at least some virtual communities fit these criteria. As has happened in the past, what people mean when they speak of community is shifting.
As the early digital enthusiasts, builders, and researchers were joined by a more representative sample of the world’s population, a broader and not always wholesome representation of human behaviour manifested itself online. Life online in the 21st century enabled terrorists and various cybercriminals to make use of the same many-to-many digital networks that enable support groups for disease victims and caregivers, disaster relief action, distance learning, and community-building efforts. Soldiers in battle taunt their enemies with text messages, disseminate information through instant messaging, and communicate home through online videos. With so many young people spending so much of their time online, many parents and “real world” community leaders expressed concerns about the possible effects of overindulging in such virtual social lives. In addition, in an environment where anyone can publish anything or make any claim online, the need to include an understanding of social media in education has given rise to advocates for “participatory pedagogy.”
Students of online social behaviour have noted a shift from “group-centric” characterizations of online socializing to a perspective that takes into account “networked individualism.” Again, quoting Wellman:
It is likely that community-centred forms of online communication will continue to flourish—in the medical community alone, mutual support groups will continue to afford strong and persistent bonds between people whose primary communications take place online. At the same time, it is also likely that the prevalence of individual-centred social network services and the proliferation of personal communication devices will feed the evolution of “networked individualism.” Cyberculture studies, necessarily an interdisciplinary pursuit, is likely to continue to grow as more human socialization is mediated by digital networks.
computer network, two or more computers that are connected with one another for the purpose of communicating data electronically. Besides physically connecting computer and communication devices, a network system serves the important function of establishing a cohesive architecture that allows a variety of equipment types to transfer information in a near-seamless fashion. Two popular architectures are ISO Open Systems Interconnection (OSI) and IBM’s Systems Network Architecture (SNA).
Two basic network types are local-area networks (LANs) and wide-area networks (WANs). LANs connect computers and peripheral devices in a limited physical area, such as a business office, laboratory, or college campus, by means of links (wires, Ethernet cables, fibre optics, Wi-Fi) that transmit data rapidly. A typical LAN consists of two or more personal computers, printers, and high-capacity disk-storage devices called file servers, which enable each computer on the network to access a common set of files. LAN operating system software, which interprets input and instructs networked devices, allows users to communicate with each other; share the printers and storage equipment; and simultaneously access centrally located processors, data, or programs (instruction sets). LAN users may also access other LANs or tap into WANs. LANs with similar architectures are linked by “bridges,” which act as transfer points. LANs with different architectures are linked by “gateways,” which convert data as it passes between systems.
WANs connect computers and smaller networks to larger networks over greater geographic areas, including different continents. They may link the computers by means of cables, optical fibres, or satellites, but their users commonly access the networks via a modem (a device that allows computers to communicate over telephone lines). The largest WAN is the Internet, a collection of networks and gateways linking billions of computer users on every continent.