WLUSU web site and social network hype-reliant?

With a $40,000 price tag, the WLUSU web site and social network, purchased in August 2011, should be expected to noticeably benefit campus life.

Because it is a private network, students use their Laurier e-mails to connect and this is supposed to facilitate campus updates. While many students have yet to sign up, the network has been popular among first years that were able to hear it promoted during orientation week this year.

Although it is good that WLUSU is trying to be more creative with its innovations, there is already too much networking capability out there. The market for Internet networking is largely dominated by firms like Google, Facebook and Twitter.

It is nearly impossible to compete with these networks because they are just so large. Most “viral” information that passes through the Internet on any given day is filtered through these sites.

For this reason it seems unlikely that the WLUSU website and social network’s popularity will last passed the first year for many of these students. Everyone is excited to get involved in “exclusive” campus society in their first year and WLUSU reaps huge benefits from the hype it generates during orientation week. However, this exclusivity will no longer be appealing as time goes on.

In essence, exclusivity is not a characteristic that one would expect from a “good” network. A good network bridges the gap, so to speak, between disconnected information streams and is in the business of contributing to a greater overall connectivity in the long-term. If a web site is marketing itself as a social network, yet bases its selling point on exclusivity, then its ultimate effect would be to decrease communication rather than increase it.

The final result is that the WLUSU website encourages the development of internet cliques rather than internet communities. The success of websites like Facebook and Twitter has not been from exclusivity, but from universality.

If WLUSU wants to move up in the Internet world it must recognize the networks that already exist and flow with them rather than try to change the direction altogether.

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