Written on VS023 flying from London to Washington DC and dispatched to silicon.com via my hotel wi-fi hotspot at 2.5Mbps later the same day.
In just six years, social networking has gone from an insignificant curiosity to become the primary mode of electronic communication for many. Today, Facebook and Twitter are the biggest successes, with a myriad imitators and also-rans making up the rest of the field.
Facebook now appears to account for about 15 per cent of the global population engaged in social networking. At the present rate of growth, it may well exceed 20 per cent over the next 12 months. The competition, including the aggregation of all professional sites, are failing to match this growth but the numbers are climbing steadily all the same.
Examining the numbers by region gives this profile of the most active areas:
But if we normalise these figures by total population count and graph as a percentage, we get an entirely different and surprising picture:
This graph not only reflects the wealth of the individual regions, but it also says a lot about social conventions and the way societies traditionally operate. North America, South America and Europe have well-founded histories of open communication, discussion and debate forged over centuries. Asia-Pacific is somewhat different - depending on where you are - and may therefore take longer to develop.
Wherever it has really taken off, one of the most interesting aspects of social networking to date has been...
Peter Cochrane is an engineer, scientist, entrepreneur, futurist and consultant. He is the former CTO and head of research at BT, with a career in telecoms and IT spanning more than 40 years.