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SOCNET  June 2004

SOCNET June 2004

Subject:

Re: Online / offline social networks

From:

Steve Abrams <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Steve Abrams <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Fri, 11 Jun 2004 05:37:25 -0700

Content-Type:

text/plain

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*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.sfu.ca/~insna/  *****

On Jun 11, 2004, at 2:41 AM, Emilie Marquois wrote:

> My question was: "are there any differences between online social
> networks
> and offline social networks in terms of research?". It was not very
> clear,
> and I'm sorry for that. In fact, I was told that online social networks
> had not received much attention (is it a new domain of research?),
> comparatively to offline social networks? Does anyone have an opinion?

I think you're considering two different things.  The first is social
network analysis as an analytic methodology.  The second is the
application of that methodology to technologically-mediated social
interactions.

So, I think the answer to your question from the first perspective is
'no', the methodology available to you does not inherently change when
studying mediated networks vs. non-mediated networks.  Stanley
Milgram's classic small world experiment was a network study of
relationships mediated by the communications technology of postal mail.
  This does not preclude the development of new techniques.  The benefit
of analyzing mediated networks, of course, is that it enables the study
of very large networks, which may lead to new techniques.  However,
this is a consequence of the size of the network of interest, not its
mediation.

The answer to your question from the second perspective is, I think,
'probably not'.   Mediated networks have been studied, but I'm not
aware of any research that compares the two to attempt to discover any
differences.  I'm currently studying the evolution of a community of
fan fiction authors and readers through their blogging activity at
LiveJournal.com, but that's not the same thing...

See also, for example:
Ahuja, Manju, and Carley, Kathleen. 1999. Network Structure in Virtual
Organizations.  Organization Science, 10(6). 741-757.
Garton, L., et al. 1997. Stufying Online Social Networks. Journal of
Computer-Mediated Communications.
http://www.ascusc.org/jcmc/vol3/issue1/garton.html
Haythornethwaite,Caroline. 2000. Online Personal Networks. New Media &
Society, 2(2). 195-226..
Wellman, Barry. 2001. Computer Networks as Social Networks.  Science,
293. 2031-4.

> I was told too that, actually, the approach to study social networks
> was
> essentially static and didn't take into account the network changes,
> its
> evolution? Does anyone have an opinion?

This isn't true at all.  This has been a active area of research over
the past few years. See, for example:

Barabasi, A.L., et al. 2002. Evolution of the Social Network of
Scientific Collaborations. Physica A, 311. 590-614.
Doreian, P. 2002. Event Sequences as Generators of Social Network
Evolution. Social networks, 24. 93-119.
Dorogovtsev, S.N. and Mendes, J.F. 2003. Evolution of Networks: From
Biological Nets to the Internet and WWW.  Oxford University Press.
Faust, K. and Skvoretz, J. 2002. Comparing Networks Across Space and
Time, Size and Species. Sociological Methodology 2002. 267-299.
Hummon, N.P. 2000. Utility and Dynamic Social Networks.  Social
Networks, 22. 221-249.
Johnson, J., et al. 2003. Social Roles and the Evolution of Networks in
Extreme and Isolated Environments.  Journal of Mathematical Sociology,
27. 89-121.
Morgan, D.L., et al. 1996. The Stability of Core and Peripheral
Networks over Time. Social Networks, 19. 9-25.
Breiger, R., et al. (Eds.). 2003. Dynamic Social Network Modeling and
Analysis. The National Academies Press.
Schweizer, T. 1996. Actor and Event Orderings Across Time: lattice
representation and Boolean analysis of the political disputes in Chen
Village, China. Social Networks, 18. 247-266.
Zeggelink, E. 1995. Evolving Friendship Networks: an
individual-oriented approach implementing similarity. Social Networks,
17. 83-110,


Steve Abrams


=======================================================
Steve Abrams                       | Fingers: [log in to unmask]
Interactive and                      | Eyes: 274 ICS2
   Collaborative Technologies | Mouth: (949)824-3301
School of Information and Computer Science
Irvine, CA  92697-3425         | AIM: ucisteveabrams
=======================================================

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