Archive for the 'social networks' Category

Social networking and the media

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I was just reading a BBC news story about the tragic suicide of two young cousins. They both come from Brigend, in Wales, where 14 other young people have committed suicide in the past year. There hasn’t been any official explanation for the prevalence of suicides in this relatively small community but obviously people are looking for answers. In what seems at least questionable journalistic practice the following three one sentence paragraphs appear:

Police are investigating the deaths but say it is too early to say how they are linked.

It is thought both youngsters were members of the Bebo and Facebook internet social networking sites.

Relatives confirmed Ms Stephenson knew two previous young people from the Bridgend area who hanged themselves last year.

This is the only mention of social networking in the whole piece, with the implication being that this might be tied up with something happening on the sites. This may be true, but without any evidence to back this up I think the sentence is quite irresponsible. To be sure, there are problems that need to be addressed, but for now reporting like this won’t help ease the minds of worried parents. There is undoubtedly a “web difference” between some teenagers and their parents which creates an air of suspicion about online activities, reporting like this won’t help address the differences.

Two young cousins ‘found hanged’ – BBC News

Class 4 Liveblog

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[Due to the format of the class (and maybe also my personal definition of what a liveblog is) I chose not to try to condense the discussion we had, trying to preserve as much of it as possible. Sorry for the resultant length! Also, there are probably some inaccuracies in here, apologies in advance, and feel free to comment if I mangled one of your points.]

__(‘Read the rest of this entry »’)

Reconfiguring friendship

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Here is Corinna’s article on friendship on the Web. A key finding (from the abstract) for the question of difference:

…multivariate analyses indicate that the dynamics of online friendships are
driven more by the idiosyncratic digital choices made by users of the Internet than
by any mechanistic social or technological determinism.

Web’s capillary action

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I haven’t tried this software yet, but I like how they’re developing it:

The concept of Jing is the always-ready program that instantly captures and shares images and video…from your computer to anywhere.

It’s something we want to give you, along with some online media hosting, to see how you use it. The project will eventually turn into something else. Tell us what you think so we can figure out what that is.

Try it, you’ll like it. Find out more in the FAQ, or on the weblog .


Not so incidentally, I found out about this via a post by JP Rangaswami following up on a really terrific post about the incredible capacity of our new circulatory system (capillaries, not a fire hose, says JP). The follow-up post gives an example of capillary action at work. The first post frames the Net as how conversation — taken not just as chin-wagging but as how much of the the work and play of sociality are accomplished — scales. [Tags: ]

Does the Web encourage superficial friendships?

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For the first session, I’m trying to find a pithily made case that the Web encourages superficial, degraded friendships. Given my poor powers of recall (which will become painfully obvious throughout the term), I’ve been poking around inefficiently, although I did get some good responses when I twittered the question. Here are a couple of sources:

Miller McPherson et al., “Birds of a Feather” is not about whether e-friendships are less significant but about whether e-friends affiliate more with people like them than they do in real-world friendships. (Cass Sunstein is among those who raise a similar alarm.)

Robert Kraut has a whole bunch of articles. Here’s how one of them (with J. Cummings and J. Lee) opens:

People maintain only a limited number of personal relationships. Researchers
estimate that people typically keep ten to twenty important relationships, out of
the approximately 1,000 individuals whom they interact with or can identify (e.g.,
Fisher, 1982; Wellman, 1992). Friendships, in contrast to family relationships, are
especially fragile, and require active maintenance or they die (Canary & Stafford,
1994). While family ties exist because of the accident of birth and are often
maintained through obligation, friendship and romantic relationships are
voluntary. They grow, decline, and end through concrete actions (Allan, 1979).

In this paper we examine how young adults maintain friendships when faced with
life events that threaten them, such as moving from high school to college. In
particular, we examine the role that phone and computer communications play in
maintaining these friendships as the parties move geographically apart.

They find that the different modalities of communication affect the drop-off in closeness.

Ethan Watters’ Urban Tribes (book and blog) looks at e-friendship. I haven’t read it (it sure is familiar, though), but it apparently argues that the new media enable friends to be more attentive to one another.

Robert Putnam in Bowling Alone mainly talks about the breakdown of community, which is different from friendship. I don’t recall him talking about friendship per se, but I’ll take a look; it’s been a while since I read the book.

Steve Rubel has posted about the decline in friendship, pointing to a Wikipedia entry on just that topic.