People have argued that social networking sites and social network platforms are different. On social networking sites people tend to visit new people and find new friends. On the contrary, social networks mostly reflect one’s actual network of friends and acquaintances in real life. Considering this fact, it is not surprising that various geographic regions are represented differently on different social networks. In fact when someone from a certain real society joins a virtual society, there is a higher chance that others from that real society join that particular platform. In short the more members of a real community join a particular platform, the higher the chance others from that community would join it.
One step further, there are social networks specifically designed to connect people living in certain regions or members of particular ethnic or belief society. Those who join these platforms experience a more homogenous virtual society which provides better mutual understanding between users. Common concerns and language enhance communications among users. Additionally, these highly targeted websites provide a platform for highly specialized advertising. Goods specially made for the target audience can be most efficiently advertised on such platforms. So not surprisingly these networks are popular among both users and advertising companies in that particular region. In this post I want to introduce one of such platforms which I call “local virtual societies”
Cloob is a social network sites for connecting Iranians. Launched in 2004, now it has more than a million users and enjoys more than 100 million page views per month. This platform offers common features of social network sites e.g. content sharing and friend lists. It also facilitates discussions in larger scales by supporting communities and community discussions and question and answer forums. Cloob has a virtual currency called “coroob” and an income/expense book keeping service. Users can spend this money on virtual shops offering a wide variety of virtual and real goods. This money can be transferred and transacted between users.
One can guess that the culture of local virtual societies is a reflection of the real society they represent. Cloob is not an exception to this rule. In fact designers of this site intentionally “Iranize” the environment. This make the virtual environment seem more friendly and familiar to its target audience. Not surprisingly, with just a quick look at the website one can find ads promoting goods especially for Iranians.
Roaming around in Cloob, I ask myself if I can find fundamental differences between this local virtual society and a global virtual society like Facebook. Besides superficial characteristics and cultural atmosphere, no fundamental distinction is apparent at the first sight. But can scrupulous studies tell us more about such distinctive differences? I need to read and think more…