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I just finished reading a long article on salon.com, “You Are Who You 
Know,” about the rise (an imminent fall?) of the social networking software 
trend (blip? Movement?).  I thought this list was strangely quiet about the 
article considering postings on other popular media treatments of the 
topics at hand.

Maybe the content is too familiar to comment on for this list…

Maybe I am just getting ever more creative with dissertation procrastination…

Caveats aside, I enjoyed reading this article (by Andrew Leonard) because 
it captured a clutch of issues that have been on my mind as I have watched 
the rising wave of buzz, interest, and activity about the various 
commercial social networking sites.

Personally, I have only glanced at a few of them because I don’t have time 
to playa round with such cyber activity.

I am (jokingly) terrified one of my colleagues will pop up and ask me about 
them.

Anyway, for me the article brings up some interesting issues.

- Social Software is the second coming of VC and dot-com survivors.
- There are questions about the business model underneath many sites.
- There is a cognitive dissonance between those who designed much of the 
‘net and this software and their concerns about privacy and the disregard 
for privacy evident in the millions of people who use the social software 
sites/products.
- Lust (looking for dates) is one common use of the sites.
- Much of the buzz is old wine in new bottles- salespeople (“human 
rolodexes”) have known for a long time that bridges and weak connections 
are crucial for finding new sales.
- Networks could become gated communities of cyberspace.
- The very people laid off by the dot-com bust are many of the programmers 
who created this software in a classic example of creative destruction.

A few choice lines:

“Social networking software- with its idea that human relations can be 
hacked, that community can be programmed- is a geek wet dream.”

Leonard also deals with the critique of overly-technical approaches to 
human dynamics.

“There are no easy short cuts to real human connection.  No matter how 
clever the programming, one still has to reach out, to brave rejection and 
chance ridicule.”



Link for article (you have to get a one-day pass if you are not a member- 
sorry).
http://www.salon.com/tech/feature/2004/06/15/social_software_one/index_np.html

Jordi


Jordi Comas
Visiting Assistant Professor
Management
Bucknell University
570 577-3161
[log in to unmask]

http://www.facstaff.bucknell.edu/jcomas




"There is nothing so practical as a good theory."  Kurt Lewin

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