They’re called social utilities. Facebook and Myspace are the best known. My college-age kids have been on Facebook for years and I opened an account a couple of months ago. Ain’t I cool!?
The Facebook Fact Book says precious little about Facebook: Founded in 2004, Facebook has 67 million users who visited their account at least once within the last month. It is the "second-most trafficked PHP" installation in the world. PHP stands for "hypertext preprocessor" and is computer and web site scripting language. It’s inventor, Mark Zuckerberg, will turn 24 in May and attended the same private high school as my son (Phillips Exeter Academy), who tells me Facebook to some degree is based on the school’s internal student network. Controversy seems to find Zuckerberg and there are several claims alleging that he ripped off some of his ideas.
Do engineers use Facebook? Certainly, the younger ones do. Design News has its own Facebook page and of the 57 people who havee friended it, the vast majority are from countries outside the U.S. And when I searched "design engineering," I could not even get through the A’s. I didn’t see many of DN’s bloggers on Facebook. Mechatronics on Campus blogger Stefan Wolpert, a Olin College sophomore, was there of course.
I can’t tell you for certain that Facebook is an essential networking tool for engineers, but I can tell you this. That vast majority of kids (I am more than 2x older) under 25 who I know use it as a key social medium. And there’s no reason why it could not be a professional medium as well. It already is. Stay tuned.