More musings on the essence of social networks

Thanks to Nnamdi again my understanding of what is actually going on under the hood on social networks is on the increase.  This learning by writing is one of the things I like most about blogging.
In a comment yesterday Nnamdi pointed me to Fred Stutzman’s blog.  Fred is a really insightful thinker on the whole social network space with a whole heap of interesting posts.  The one Nnamdi pointed to builds on the thinking of Jyri Engestrom about social objects (which you can read about here) and makes a distinction I have not come across before between object-centred social nets (Flickr, Delicious, Digg etc.) and ego-centred social nets (Myspace, Facebook, etc.).

This is an important distinction, and gets over the difficulties in applying Jyri’s social object model to sites that are more about people.

To address the question that got me into this in the first place, it also makes it clearer what people are doing on sites like Myspace and Facebook and starts to answer questions about their sustainability.

Fred’s site looks at this question in some detail, and he also links to a great essay by Danah Boyd which also provides some great insight.
In a nutshell, as per Fred and Danah at least, most of the activity on ego-centred sites is about self expression, self investigation and building groups of friends.  These are ‘burst of energy’ rather than ‘keep doing it for years’ activities and hence questions about the sustainability of the traffic and page views on these sites are legitimate.

I will return to this topic later, but for the impatient amongst you, check out the links above.

Thanks again Nnamdi.

  • Hic Nic,

    Apologies if this has been covered in the posts/links but it’s human to want to do what everybody else is doing, to find out what the fuss is all about. Perhaps this is one of the fundamental drivers?

  • Hic Nic,

    Apologies if this has been covered in the posts/links but it’s human to want to do what everybody else is doing, to find out what the fuss is all about. Perhaps this is one of the fundamental drivers?

  • Nic, I think we talked about this quite a while ago. Danah & Fred have put a lot of energy on describing the “clubs” and by contrast they’ve shown that you need social items to make weak ties valuable.

    This is the list of items i’ve bookmarked from them since june 2006:
    http://del.icio.us/ulikleafar/apophenia
    http://del.icio.us/ulikleafar/stutzman

    @James … i think i disagree. generationX or GenMe is probably looking for difference and being deviant is probably one of the deeper trend of this e-generation new paradigm.

  • Nic, I think we talked about this quite a while ago. Danah & Fred have put a lot of energy on describing the “clubs” and by contrast they’ve shown that you need social items to make weak ties valuable.

    This is the list of items i’ve bookmarked from them since june 2006:
    http://del.icio.us/ulikleafar/apophenia
    http://del.icio.us/ulikleafar/stutzman

    @James … i think i disagree. generationX or GenMe is probably looking for difference and being deviant is probably one of the deeper trend of this e-generation new paradigm.

  • In relation to the psychology of networking: Big White Wall has just launched the Award for Psychological Insight, offering a cash prize of $2,000 to the individual who best explores the psychological mysteries of social networking, and captures their findings in an article.
    Commenting on the Award, Professor James W. Pennebaker, Chair of Psychology, University of Texas and author of Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions said: “Very little is known about self-expression online. Big White Wall’s award is an excellent opportunity to explore internet-based social and emotional processes”.
    For an application form and further information, email [email protected].
    Big White Wall is the place for emotional health online (www.bigwhitewall.com). It is a support network where, anonymously, people can honestly express everyday worries and deeper concerns, talk these through openly with others and learn more about how to be emotionally healthy.

  • In relation to the psychology of networking: Big White Wall has just launched the Award for Psychological Insight, offering a cash prize of $2,000 to the individual who best explores the psychological mysteries of social networking, and captures their findings in an article.
    Commenting on the Award, Professor James W. Pennebaker, Chair of Psychology, University of Texas and author of Opening Up: The Healing Power of Expressing Emotions said: “Very little is known about self-expression online. Big White Wall’s award is an excellent opportunity to explore internet-based social and emotional processes”.
    For an application form and further information, email [email protected].
    Big White Wall is the place for emotional health online (www.bigwhitewall.com). It is a support network where, anonymously, people can honestly express everyday worries and deeper concerns, talk these through openly with others and learn more about how to be emotionally healthy.

  • Nnamdi

    You’re welcome Nic.

  • Nnamdi

    You’re welcome Nic.

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