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Re the 'fad' -- this story couldn't be more perfectly timed to support your 
comment.  /Caroline

Some Tech-Gen Youth Go Offline
http://www.wired.com/news/wireservice/1,71918-0.html 

<here's the beginning of the article...>

CHICAGO -- For some, it would be unthinkable -- certain social suicide. But 
Gabe Henderson is finding freedom in a recent decision: He canceled his 
MySpace account.

No longer enthralled with the world of social networking, the 26-year-old 
graduate student pulled the plug after realizing that a lot of the online friends 
he had accumulated were really just acquaintances. He's also phasing out his 
profile on Facebook, a popular social networking site that, like others, allows 
users to create profiles, swap message and share photos -- all with the goal of 
expanding their circle of online friends. ...

Back in Iowa, Henderson is enjoying spending more face-to-face time with his 
friends and less with his computer. He says his decision to quit MySpace and 
Facebook was a good one.

"I'm not sacrificing friends," he says, "because if a picture, some basic 
information about their life and a web page is all my friendship has become, 
then there was nothing to sacrifice to begin with."


-----

---- Original message ----
>Date: Sun, 8 Oct 2006 10:43:57 -0700
>From: Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]>  
>Subject: [Fwd: Re: The hype goes on: MySpace & Business]  
>To: [log in to unmask]
>
>*****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>
>Moses,
>
>	I think we are in the process of seeing the social construction of
>meaning.  The other day, I suggested to Mark Granovetter, that I would
>call our networks "human networks."  He said that I should educate, and
>that the other was a fad.  He pointed out that we could date our use of
>social networks back to at least Bott's book: Family and Social Networks.
>
>	I do not begrudge MySpace profit, they took a lot of risk to create
>what they did and people like it.   Just think of lay definitions of
>meaning, culture and so on and realize that there are always gradations
>of usages.  Academics can do things that do not have direct application
>to people's day to day life.  Businesspeople do not have that luxury.
>
>	As you know, I spend a lot of time doing various kinds of outreach
>about social networks.  Lately, I do not use the term "social network"
>in the titles because of the chance of confusion.  I have had the
>experience of people coming to one of my talks and at the end coming up
>to me and saying "you did not mention social networks at all.  You
>academic types should change the name because of the confusion."
>
>	You also know how optimistic I am and I find that taking the view that
>"problems are opportunities is disguise" has lead me to thinking more
>about not getting to hung up in the terminology.  After all, as White
>says: “Networks are phenomenological realities as well as measurement
>constructs."  I almost (but not quite) adopt the logical positivist view
>that any sentence that describes a psychological thing can be translated
>into another sentence that describes the same thing.
>
>	What I have started doing is initially using more familiar terms like
>"connector."   Talking about how we are influenced by those around us
>who in turn influence us and that networks are a good way of describing
>this.  Since we are not just talking about the flow of electrons, the
>term "social network" was adopted long ago.  I explain the difference
>between "social networking software" and "social networks."
>
>	When you think about it, even before LinkedIn and so on if you talked
>about social networks with some people they would assume you were
>talking about going to parties and networking.  It is an ongoing issue.
>
>	You and our SNA colleagues are doing awesome work and time will out it.
> There is no point in troubling deaf heaven with our bootless cries.
>
>> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>> 
>> Dear Don,
>> 
>> Since it was me who posed the question on first place, I would like us
>> to tackle excactly this issue: As you seem to accept in your previous
>> e-mail, why are there such distant interpretations or meanings (as
>> you're saying) on social networks among the community of sociologists,
>> mathematicians etc. working on social networks analysis and the
>> community of other practitioners like the architects of MySpace? And
>> why cannot the business community judge what is what, given that at
>> the moment the substantive "profit" from MySpace type of activities is
>> contested by many pundits in the field? My personal concern lies of
>> course far away from any financial considerations. As a member of the
>> scientific community, I care more about another form of symbolic
>> value: the "paradigm" of social networks in these two activities. From
>> this point of view, I'm wondering: If these two paradigms are so
>> incompatible (or, better said, incommensurable), then what is exactly
>> that ourselves in the social network community cannot see in the
>> meanings or values impelled in the other side? We keep on building our
>> models, methods, analyses etc. over the old social bobdings which are
>> inacted in the "real" reality we're living. Is there a single
>> motivating idea that social network analysts have ever borrowed from
>> "Their" Space (because it's not certainly "My" Space). Then what's
>> "their" value for SNA? What is SNA gaining from the naive
>> appropriation of social networks "they" are doing in "Their" Spaces?
>> Perhaps, social network analysts could help them and I appreciate,
>> Don, your efforts in this respect as well as the efforts of Harald and
>> his company FAS. But is there really any evidence of any "learning"
>> between the two communities? Perhaps Stan and Andrew Cleary from the
>> VisiblePath Corp. might be able to give us a hint. I understand that
>> Visible Path has nothing in common with MySpace (and they're not
>> receiving similar publicity, of course) but perhaps they know
>> something more.
>> 
>> Regards,
>> 
>> --Moses
>> 
>> 
>> 
>> On 10/8/06, Don Steiny <[log in to unmask]> wrote:
>>> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>>>
>>> All.
>>>
>>>         Me Clupa.  Visible Path, a social networking site, has Stan
>>> Wasserman
>>> as it's chief scientist, who is one of the most influential network
>>> analysts.  Spoke was doing it, I had heard they had pulled back on it,
>>> but Stan informs me that they are still doing it.   Stan also said that
>>> he knows that some of the other sites are doing SNA.   So my "as far as
>>> I know" was not far enough, and I dropped bits because I knew of Stan's
>>> work.
>>>
>>>         Even the Economist calls databases of relations between email
>>> addresses
>>> and profiles "social networks."  Most people have only heard the term in
>>> that context.  It is in indication that we have work to do to get out
>>> the word about what we do and what is possible.
>>>
>>> -Don
>>> > *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>>> >
>>> > Nick,
>>> >
>>> >       I have long discussions with the founder of LinkedIn about social
>>> > networks.  He does NOT do any social network analysis and as far as I
>>> > know, none of the "social networking" sites do.  He is a very nice guy
>>> > with a advanced degree in philosophy.
>>> >
>>> >       I don't blame business for the term being usurped.  Lot's of
>>> things
>>> > have multiple meanings.  I sometimes get frustrated because I have to
>>> > reexplain what I mean over and over; but I get frustrated with some in
>>> > the social network community as well because I find their interests too
>>> > narrow.  For instance, the type of segmentary opposition you mention is
>>> > widely discussed in the network literature.
>>> >
>>> >       It is not what I would consider to be network thinking to
>>> define groups
>>> > by attributes.  It seems to me that once you have labeled a group
>>> > "stupid and short sighted" it becomes something it reasonable to safely
>>> > ignore.  You would not drill down to find gems like FAS Research, a
>>> > business dedicated to using network analysis to help the world function
>>> > better and much loved contributors to INSNA.
>>> >
>>> >       If you think about it, you have answered your own questions.
>>> >
>>> > -Don
>>> >
>>> >
>>> >> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>>> >>
>>> >> On 10/7/06, Moses Boudourides <[log in to unmask]> 
wrote:
>>> >>> *****  To join INSNA, visit http://www.insna.org  *****
>>> >>>
>>> >>> I'm just wondering: is this a mere naiveté or why do people around
>>> >>> business tend to  identify social networks with gimmicks like
>>> MySpace?
>>> >>> What do they see that sociologists cannot understand?  Your cues will
>>> >>> be appreciated.
>>> >>>
>>> >>> --Moses
>>> >>>
>>> >>> [snip long articles]
>>> >> What sickens me is that the focus of these business-perspective
>>> >> articles is how these sites are a new way to make money by profiling
>>> >> users or using network effects. This perspective can never work! It is
>>> >> precisely this perspective of exploitation that people naturally
>>> >> resist, and the very same network effects will quickly clamp down on
>>> >> any such perceived threat. Perhaps it will create success in some
>>> >> early cases when it's still cool, like alternate-reality-games which
>>> >> are just now getting to be recognized the critical amount of people
>>> >> who will make it not novel enough to work anymore, but that doesn't
>>> >> work in general. Stupid, short-sighted business people.
>>> >> (p.s.: something like Snakes on a Plane will always work because the
>>> >> reason it was popular was because the intanetz caught on to the silly
>>> >> title and soon after the fact that the creators were going to deliver
>>> >> exactly what was expected from the title, and especially that Samuel L
>>> >> Jackson was "cool" and accepted as a sort of honourary member of the
>>> >> intanetz, if that makes any sort of sense at all)
>>> >>
>>> >> I think that perhaps if business people associate
>>> >> MySpace=={blogs+music+video+shiny icons+customization+profiles}
==$$
>>> >> it's because all they read are stupid uninformed articles like these.
>>> >> But I don't know enough business people personally to say if that's
>>> >> true or not.
>>> >>
>>> >> Here's a sociological question for someone to study, then: what's the
>>> >> difference in attitude between {business,math,arts,nonacademic}-
types,
>>> >> and why?
>>> >>
>>> >>
>>> >> -Nick
>>> >

----------------------------------------
Caroline Haythornthwaite
Associate Professor
Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
501 East Daniel St., Champaign IL 61820

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