The way we communicate has changed and social networks are now the center of our daily lives. We update our friends about our whereabouts, discuss what we had for dinner and post updates on events and cool articles we’ve read (feel free to share this one too).
But after using Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and the fading MySpace, how else can we use this amazing new phenomenon to our benefit? That’s where specialized social networks can be handy. Crazy about cooking? Would love to know what other people are buying? Want to help poor people worldwide but can’t afford to do it alone? There is a network for all of these and many, many more.
BakeSpace was launched in August 2006 by media producer Babette Pepaj and seems to have taken many hints from MySpace (besides the name). It allows you to upload videos and images, post a blog, and have your friends and recipes side by side. It also allows you to build and customize features with clever names, such as your own “online kitchen” and raid the “virtual pantry” (forums). A great place for those who share a passion for cooking.
Blippy is a fun and easy way to see and discuss the things people are buying. It works by posting purchases you’ve made to selected stores to their stream in a way that’s similar to Twitter, but with products. It can be surprisingly addictive to read what your friends and family are buying, or just browse the choices others have made.
Want to join your friends and family and make a huge difference in someone’s life? That’s why Kiva was created. The idea is to use the power of community and social networking to help someone out of poverty by lending poor people all over the world enough money to start a business or improve their standard of living.
The minimum loan is $25, which gets added to the donations from other lenders to help fund someone’s dream in the poorest parts of places like Africa or South America. The reason it’s called a loan and not a donation is because they are partnered with organizations around the world to try to ensure that you get your money back. You create your lender’s page, pick who you want to lend to, invite your friends, share messages and sponsor people together.
You may also join one of the existing Kiva groups such as “The Beholders Group – Body, Mind and Spirit” (full disclosure, I run this one), “Team Yoga” or “Give Green – Environmental Loans“, among many others. Or better yet, you can create your own group and get everyone involved.
It seems strange to create a specialized social network that focuses on being sick, but if you think about it, the need for connection and understanding from others who are sharing the same experience can make “Patients Like Me” a very healing activity.
The site allows people who are going through treatment or have just found out they have a life changing condition find information, post their profile, discuss doctor visits and find emotional support. It can also be a great source of comfort to the family and friends of those who are going through any kind of health related crisis.
The Baby Center website has been around since 1997 and in 2008 they decided to launch their Baby Center Community, which is a social network for parents with young children of all ages to share their experiences, doubts and proud moments.
With about 1 million members, Virtual Tourist is a great resource for those who love traveling and want to learn from and share experiences with fellow world explorers. It allows you to create your own travel map, shares images and activities and get a lot of information. They also have a very persuading way of ensuring you will add your personal pictures to the site. Their default profile picture is a sheep wearing a cap!!!
A social network that is not as robust as your usual Facebook-like networks, but has the advantage of bringing a very targeted group of people together to share their poems and expose them to the world. Call yourself a poet? This site is for you.
The deviantART site is one of the largest art websites in the world with 100 million original works of art and over 12 million members from 190 countries. It’s a great way to expose your art, which can be paintings, crafts, digital art and even Manga, and also allows you to sell it on the deviantART Shop.
So, geeks of the world (and I say that lovingly, since I am one of those geeks), you can now unite, but there is a catch. You must actually be accepted into this very private world of internet engineers by explaining your expertise and uploading your resume in the hopes of being granted an invitation. You may also prove yourself by answering 20 questions posted on their site or by getting an invitation from one of the members. Not for amateur geeks.
Do you love movies? Love talking about them, learning about them and sharing comments about them? Then Flixter is for you. Even though it’s not even 3 years old, Flixter already is one of the largest movie sites on the web with over 15 million unique visitors and almost 2 billion movie ratings.
No one is ever truly alone. There are always groups of people who think like we do, share the same concerns or are excited by the same things we are. Now the web has given us thousands of ways to find those people. What specialized social networks do you belong to?