With technological advances from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0, new media is changing and growing. According to O’Reilley, Web 2.0 refers to the second generation of web development and is often associated with social media applications. The important feature of this media is the development of software that enabled mass participation in social and collective activities (Mustonen, 2009) that can often be seen as “playful”.
Web 2.0 helps the user to overcome the technical obstacles that were in the way earlier and making the Internet an instrument for and by the mass user. One can easily consume (read, listen, watch, download, search, and buy), create (personalize, aggregate, and contribute), share (publish, upload), facilitate (tag, recommend) and communicate (send messages, post comments, rate, and chat) online.
The new media technology evolved to meet the technical requirements for creating an effective online social networking, namely (i) bounding: to form an online group meeting, (ii) tracking: the list of community involvement in discussions, (iii) archiving: to maintain records for easy discussion, and (iv) warranting: ensuring the identity of the participants (Feenberg & Bakardjieva, 2003).
This social media where individuals can meet and chat with others who share their same interests have sprouted rapidly and has become a very popular sector of the Internet. The rapid adaptation of this technology by individuals, groups, organizations, and communities have created “online communities”, and “virtual social life” (Igbaria et al. 2001). which is created with four basic elements based on Preece (2000: 10): people, sharing purposes, policy, and computer system.
This community is formed and maintained through the Internet. According to Horigan (2001), “…an online community has become a ‘third place’ to the public and it is different from home and workplace.” Among the main activity of this “third place” is conversation and the mood is established as “playful”, “frivolity, verbal wordplay, and wit”, and by the feeling of “human warmth” deriving from “being apart together” (Oldenburg in Steinkuehler & Williams, 2006).
Usage of this social media creates excitement to the user and they are used more often than other media. This is consistent with the McQuail’s (2001) opinion that one of the characteristics of new media is related to the degree of “playfulness”, the degree to which a current or potential user believes that the social network site will bring him/her a sense of enjoyment and pleasure (Sledgianowski & Kulviwat, 2009).
Cyberspace now becomes a new playground and online interaction where people to get together and form groups based on interest with the use of social networking and virtual world sites. Millions are logging in, joining up, and participating. It is become more fun, interactive, and “live” with elements of video, audio, and digital animation offered by this new media.
According to Damien Cummings (www.the-open-room.com), the year 2008 witnessed the growth of online social networking via social networking sites and virtual worlds. Statistics from comscore showed that from 1.1 billion users accessing the Internet in may 2009, 734.2 million or 65% of them, visit at least one social networking site. In fact, it has become a social utility in the friend relationship management with 74% of consumers using it to send messages to their friends. These sites connect people globally and universal McCann’s research has shown that more immigrants such as Filipinos (83%), Hungarians (80%), Polish (77%), and Mexicans (76%) use this social media.