Social networks have been around for a while now. For me the social networking sites that have directly or indirectly affected me have been AIM, purevolume, myspace, livejournal, photobucket, youtube, skype, twitter, proartsconnect, and facebook. Facebook is my focus for this presentation. Facebook has many diverse techniques to the medium, this is partially why it is so popular. On facebook the options that you have are combination of AIM's live chatting with people on the other end, twitters ability to post small "status'" for other people to read or comment on, purevolume or myspaces ability to post your music for others to hear, youtubes ability to post videos of yourself, photobuckets ability to post pictures of yourself, and proartsconnect's ability to network with other artists or people in your field. These are all of the factors that facebook uses in order to maintain a successful social network.
Interface's for social networks are all pretty diverse. Photobucket uses pictures to interact both people on each end, AIM uses live messaging through typing on your keyboard, and Livejournal uses non-live messaging through typing on your keyboard. Facebook's interface is a mesh of all these things and more. Primarily facebook seems to be used for live messaging, non-live messages, and picture sharing.
Facebook was created by a few harvard students. It started by only allowing harvard students to use it, then it expanded to select colleges in Boston, then it added high school students, and finally facebook is used by people all around the world that are of the age 13 and up. However, a more specific development of the medium has been facebooks live chat feature. When i personally started to use facebook, the live chat barely worked. Everything else on my computer would slow down, and when i would type, the letters appearing on the screen would lag. Now, the live chat works just as well as AIM.
I would have to say the peak of facebook has been in the past couple of years. For me personally, one of the best facebook features has been the live chat. It tops off all of the other features by offering the OPTION to have live social interactions. However, one of the most used features of facebook is the status comments. Part of the fun in facebook is reading other peoples status updates (or post your own_ about their opinions, thoughts, and factual statements and then commenting on them. So i would have to say the peak would be somewhere in between the live chat feature and the status posts and comments.
With today's technology the future of facebook is almost limitless as far as online social networks go. One feature that I hope facebook eventually offers could be live video chat. Facebook shares features of most other social networking sites, but doesnt not share the same feature of skype, which is live video chat. so we'll have to wait and see if that happens.