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On Apr 12, 2004, at 10:10 AM, Barry Wellman wrote:
> On a possibly related note, I was at a recent conference at Microsoft
> where most participants spoke about "social networks" as if it were
> limited to Friendster, Linkedin, Orkut, et al. And didn't really care
> about anything more.
Barry... i think that you're over-reacting. What i think is happening
is a conflation of multiple concepts into one umbrella term: social
networks. This is probably bad for this list, but not surprising to me
as i've watched it happen to privacy, context and identity too.
People don't know how to talk about the phenomenon that covers sites
from SixDegrees.com to Orkut. This is a specific brand of website that
has been ?problematically? labeled "social networking sites."
Embracing those sites like bookends are sites like Spoke/Visible Path
and LiveJournal/IM clients. They don't quite fit into the
aforementioned cluster. Yet, some people use the term "social
networking sites" to include the bookends too.
Then, of course, there are the folks interested in social networks who
recognize that *tons* of technologies engage people's social networks,
particularly anything with a communication component. Of course, we
probably shouldn't even begin to address what counts as "social
software" and what does not; that is a bloody dreadful term.
So, i would posit that what you heard as people speaking about social
networks as only the first cluster is that they were trying to find
language to address that cluster, failing miserably and returning to
the pop culture description - social networking sites. As for whether
or not they cared about any other potential cluster that could be
labeled as social networks, i think it depends on who you're talking
to. If you're talking about the folks designing Wallop, perhaps that's
really their primary focus right now. If you think that's all i care
about, Barry... you know me better than that. And there were a lot of
folks in that room who did care, even if their first introduction to
the concept of social networks came through Ryze/Friendster. I know
that they care; that's why they listen to me - i'm not feeding them
Gladwell (even though i love his pop-culture writings); i'm making them
aware of Fischer and Feld and Burt and McPherson (and correcting
misreadings of Granovetter and Milgram and Dunbar).
So, Barry, i think that you're being dramatic. I just don't think that
people are aware of what's going on in soc, anthro and the beloved
interdisciplinary academic zones.
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