The Rise and Fall of Virgin Student

This week Ofcom released figures to suggest that the British use online social networks more than any other European population. Apparently we spend an average 5.3 hours per month logged into sites like Facebook and MySpace. Some are calling it obsessive.

Obsessions are often explosive and a lot of the analysis would suggest that our take up of social networks has been just that. The media story of networking sites is one that begins in a bedroom, builds up some underground cred, catches the eye of a big brand and within a year of launch is bought up for millions of dollars.

But not so. Sites like Facebook and MySpace are just the latest permutations in a long strain of social networks that have been with us since the beginning of the web. In fact, over the years there has been very little change in their essential components.

Take as a case study VirginStudent.com. VirginStudent was a community site launched in 2000 by no less than one of the UK’s – nay the world’s, most important brands – Virgin. It’s a site close to my heart; I did an internship there over a glorious summer in 2001. Continue reading “The Rise and Fall of Virgin Student”