5 Social Media Tools that Make the Internet More Open

The open source movement materialized in the '90s to help people obtain free access to high quality sources. From this philosophy, operating systems such as Linux and software programs such as Open Office provided free and intuitive alternatives to expensive software. Development and support of this software relies on P2P communities of developers and users who strive to keep this software free.  Core principles of open source projects -- access to digital content, sharing of information, and community supported have emerged in the field of social media.

In addition to facilitating networking opportunities and the sharing of information, social media resources help bridge the gap between people and businesses by providing access to information from a number of data points and perspectives. The following represent a snapshot of social media resources across various industries from finance education who are facilitating the distribution of high-quality information.

1) The Wikimedia Foundation. This resource is a no-brainer. Officially established in 2003, the Wikimedia foundation facilitates open access to information and digital content in a peer to peer environment. This framework resembles an academic system; however, Wikimedia opens its resources to the public. Wikimedia opens access to historical records as well as information from all facets of anything and everything-- for the common good of shared knowledge.

2) Cramster. For students, Cramster is a resource with solutions to textbook problems in a number of  academic disciplines from math to science. Users can peer-review and submit answers to textbook questions and collaborate on learning experiences. Cramster isn't a tool to help people cheat -- it's available to help people learn through their mistakes and develop intellectually in a P2P environment.

3) QuantCast. Based in San Francisco, QuantCast provides free, directly measured traffic reports. These traffic assessments are also available to the public who can cross-compare traffic to different websites. QuantCast's resources allow users to assess major players on the Internet.

4) SocialBakers. This website ranks Facebook pages based on their community size and user engagement. The resource allows individuals to see the biggest Facebook influencers from a streamlined point of view.

5) Prosper. This website provides a community for P2P loans. On the one hand, Prosper creates a more open Internet by creating an alternative marketplace for loans-- for those who are looking to lend and borrow outside of the bank framework. At the same time, Prosper.com makes the Internet open by providing free access to their market data. This information can be helpful for businesses, academics, and individuals who are interested in developing an understanding of the P2P lending marketplace.

There are many social media tools available that make the Internet an open and competitive place for businesses. Future posts will explore more of these resources.

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