What is a Social Network Engine?

M. McGee

A social network engine is a computer platform that allows people to interact on a social or collaborative level. This software differs from standard application software through its level of interactivity. With a typical application, activity takes place on one computer at a time; any interactivity is set up through sharing access. A social network engine allows different users to enter and leave the same application space without disrupting current users. This allows people to directly interact with others through a standard interface.

A basic social network engine is active on many different types of websites and computers.
A basic social network engine is active on many different types of websites and computers.

The social network engine is an actual type of software. These application packages often have a wide range of functions, but very little by way of a user interface. The interface is an adaptable series of functions that allows the end users of the software to customize the system to their liking. The engine simply provides the means for the different pieces of social software to interact with one another.

In general, software doesn’t work together unless it is specifically told to. Two pieces of software that are hand-coded from the ground up will have next to no interactivity. To counteract this, software uses predefined engines, functions and program interfaces. These prefabricated pieces of code allow the software to talk back and forth much easier than it would normally. Individual social programs act the same way; it is only through interconnectivity that the programs work together.

There are many features that separate one social network engine from another. Some engines are web-based, while some are active on individual computers. Some social sites use a lot of different basic applications, while some sites only use one or two. Regardless of how they are used, companies that use social networking engines put a priority on usability and interactivity.

A basic social network engine is active on many different types of websites and computers. Whenever a location allows access to instant messaging, commenting or a forum, it has a rudimentary social networking engine active in the programming. The ubiquitous nature of these features means that these engines are nearly everywhere.

Outside of the above features, a social network engine can provide a range of different functions. Both wikis and blogs are common information-based types of social networking; these programs store information rather than allow direct interaction. Internet relay chat (IRC) is one of the earliest forms of modern social networking. It provides a system similar to instant messaging that is room-based rather than people-based. Lastly, massively multi-player games have a social network engine built into them to allow chat, virtual profile exchange, and other interactive activities.

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