Running List of the Five Eras of The Social Web

This week’s post on the Future of the Social Web has created a tremendous amount of discussion –and I’m thankful for all the voices that chimed in. I’m going to create this post to track the eras as they appear, obviously this is going to take a few years, but hey, I’m not going anywhere.

Keep in mind that there’s a difference between an era starting, vs becoming mature, so read how I denote the differences below.

Running List of the Five Eras of The Social Web
For details on this report, access the high level blog post, or if you’re a client, access the full report on the Forrester site.


Era of Social Relationships (started 1995, matured in 2003-2007)
This era is mature.

  • AOL, 1995
  • eCircles, 2001
  • MySpace, Facebook, Twitter

Era of Social Functionality (started 2007, matures in 2010-2012)
These are prelimnary examples, but are not examples of maturity, as we’ve not seen true useful utilities to improve business.


Era of Social Colonization (started 2009, matures in 2011)
These are prelimnary examples, but are not examples of maturity when your entire digital experience is social.


Era of Social Context (starts in 2010, matures in 2012)
This era is certainly not in maturity, but we can see some early examples of demographic scraping.

  • There are no current examples

Era of Social Commerce (starts in 2011, matures in 2013)
These are prelimnary examples, such as Techcrunch’s crunchpad, but it’s not a true example of a crowd created, spec’d product.

  • There are no current examples

As you see examples, please leave a comment, describe why you think it belongs and which era, I’ll credit you as appropriate.