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Hi, Iím a grad student (Kim) in Seattle. Iím working on a social
networks / social software project, and Iím coming up a little short on
information.

  Are any of you familiar with social software that attempts to strengthen
social networks which originate in the physical world? Iím interested in
software thatís geared, informally or otherwise, towards preventing the
loss of social capital that occurs when groups become physically separated
(letís say, your high school circle of friends after everyone has gone off
to college).

  Iíve found quite a bit that's geared towards meeting new people online,
or maintaining group-level dynamics with folks one may never meet. There
are also packages that capitalize on networks for theme-specific
collaborative projects. Iím theorizing, though, that software approaches to
pre-existing social networks would need to be based in a different set of
group-psychological protocols than are appropriate for groups of physical
strangers. (E.g.: Role-playing might be inappropriate or unnecessary, and
too much theme-ing of the software vehicle [gaming-based, collaboration-
only-based, etc] might only serve to limit the existing social dynamic
and/or the lifespan of the groupís use of the software.)

  Iím sure thereís already been work done on this topic, but Iím not
finding it. Friendster is geared to physically-based social networks, but
in practice it seems to function as an online address book. And, when it
comes down to it, Friendster also only permits one-on-one social
interaction. Iím not sure how far it goes to actually
fostering/perpetuating social capital or a group dynamic.

  Iím looking for articles, software recommendations (web-based or
otherwise), or in a pinch, just some debate. : ) Perhaps there has been
more work in this sort of thing outside the US? Any and all information you
folks have would be welcome.

Thanks,
Kim

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