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Social networking websites and RISC OS

By Mike Carter. Published: 9th Sep 2007, 13:34:10 | Permalink | Printable

lol omghi2u r u on faceb00k yet??

Over the past two or more years, social networking websites have become super-soar-away popular especially among youngsters. Stop us if this isn't news to you. Top examples of social networking sites include Facebook, MySpace and Friends Reunited. One per cent of global Internet traffic last month was reportedly Facebook page views.

Why join a social network? What on Earth is a social network?
For those not in the know, it is exactly what it says on the tin. A social network is a website made up of people's profile pages that are linked together by friendships or some other connection. Each page includes information, contact details, photographs and quite possibly more about a given person.

This data is often supplied by the owner of the profile page, but their friends can usually add more to it in some way - such as by leaving messages. The key point to grasp is that profiles are in some way linked, such as friends linking to each others' profiles, or in the case of LinkedIn, colleagues and ex-colleagues mapping out who they have worked with.

There are, of course, privacy settings to restrict exactly who can see what information. There are a number of health warnings on the information you supply on your profile page.

Having said that, people join these sites for all manner of reasons; to find lost friends or to make new friends with similar interests, some even use them as dating sites. With web technologies advancing so quickly, and an ever growing reliance on CSS, JavaScript and Flash, it has been hard for RISC OS web browsers to keep up. However, we can soldier on with NetSurf and the Firefox ports.

Where does RISC OS a part play in all of this?
Once upon a time, there was a RISC OS and Acorn group on the early networking site Orkut, Google's project that was a little ahead of its time. However relevant groups are now appearing on the latest generation of sites. These allow punters to swap messages and links, post photographs, recommend games and other hints and tips.

If I wanted to join Facebook or MySpace, what would be the best browser to use? NetSurf is the most stable one to use here, and although it doesn't completely render the pages properly, it makes a pretty good stab at it.

NetSurf displaying Facebook and MySpace. Click for bigger

Firefox displays the pages almost perfectly, but you have to put up with it being slow at times.

The Firefox port displaying Facebook and MySpace. Click for bigger

All in all, I believe it's a bit of fun and a good way to keep in contact with friends who live some distance from you. It's also a great way to share photos, videos and other bits and pieces - and if you don't wont anyone looking through your personal details, you can always make your profile more private.


RISC OS users on Facebook
Acorn computer and BBC Micro enthusiasts on Facebook Granny's Garden fans on Facebook

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Call me a misery-guts if you like, but I just can't bring myself to get "on Facebook". I've been on Orkut for ages (although I'll admit it needs a serious clearout), am regularly found on IRC, MSN Messenger, Gizmo, and until it started behaving all shonkily, Skype.

Oh, I also have about a dozen email addresses in use.

Why on earth would I want to spend yet more of my time spodding on yet another means of communication that is inferior to any of the others above?

If you want to get in touch with me, google me. You'll find an email address. Don't be forced to contact me out of guilt because my name has appeared on someone else's Facebook page that you actually talk to and you feel suddenly obliged to pretend to be my friend.

 is a RISC OS Userjymbob on 10/9/07 11:29AM
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The reason is that on the Web at large, it's hard to find people. Drobe has an active community of, what, a few dozen members (at a guess from reading the discussion boards), drawn here by a common interest in Acorn & RISC OS kit.

Facebook is achieving a sort of critical mass now; it has so many millions of users that there's a fair chance that you will randomly find mates on there that you already know. I have got back in touch with friends and former colleagues from 15+ yr ago and it's good to catch up.

Myspace is an abomination of a site: badly designed, poor features, and it permits people to make a real dogs' breakfast of their own page.

Facebook, on the other hand, is a model Web 2 site: it's smooth, clean and attractive, plays well with other sites - I suck my Livejournal blog into my Facebook page, and my Twitter microblog, and my Flickr photo library and so on. It also encourages people to use their real names, which is a help.

On the other hand, Facebook's discussion boards are rubbish - no threading or anything. [*Coughs significantly and stares at Chris Williams*]

But it's good for playing online Scrabble! :¬)

I avoid all the pointless "fun" crap - graffiti boards, fishtanks, gardens, zombie and vampire wars, boozemail and so on. I just use it to meet and talk to people.

Which is what communication is all about, isn't it?

 is a RISC OS Userlproven on 11/9/07 1:20AM
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It would be great to access all these sites via RISC OS. Trying to acknowledge friends, or sending pics for profile etc via our browsers is just a joke. You really need to use another platform for them :(

 is a RISC OS UserHairy on 11/9/07 4:12PM
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I'm amazed at the success they've had with myspace on Netsurf. I almost always access myspace from the Mac, as it's barely useable on RISC OS. I can't get it at all on Netsurf and occasionally use Oregano 2, but it's awful.

 is a RISC OS Usercables on 12/9/07 12:51PM
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