Friday, August 22, 2008

Social networking

At the Creating Knowledge conference the first keynote today was Mike Thelwall who talked about Information Behaviour and Web 2.0 Social Networks . He noted that top social networking sites had overtaken Google in popularity, so this is a major phenomenon. In the English language sphere Facebook has overtaken MySpace as the most popular.
Mike used danah boyd's (sic) definition of a social network site (SNS): that it allows a person to make a profile, articulate a list of other people and "view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system". Looking at other people's friends is a popular occupation, as is finding out what others' are doing (gossip). Anyway, apparently Youtube qualifies under this definition and some people might use it in that way.

He identified 3 types of social networking site:
Socialising SNS (recreational, for social communication) e.g. MySpace, Twitter
Networking SNS (for non-social interpersonal communication) e.g. LinkedIn (and Ning?)
(Social) Navigation SNSs - social network features to help users find information or resources (e.g. Youtube, CiteULike, connotea)
There was a question about whether Web of Science or Google Scholar would count in the latter category, but they wouldn't, as you don't have a personal profile you can control.

Mike went through a few SNSs including:
Cyworld (the most popular SNS in Korea, where most people are members)
Digg wehere you could e.g. identify an expert and follow what they were identifying as interesting news/articles - this is an example of a site where you can find information through tracking or searching people as well as by searching on subject

In terms of of libraries, uses include:
- Using SNSs to find information
- Using "friends" to give specific advice - including using people as navigation as indicated above
- Suggesting SNS as an additional source of information "or even emotional support"?

Mike's done/is doing a lot of interesting work in analysing web stats including social networking sites: his CV is at

A couple of articles referenced by Mike:
boyd, d. (2006) "Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on social network sites." First Monday, 11 (12).
boyd, d. and Ellison, N. (2007) "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship." Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13 (1), 210 - 230.

Photo by Sheila Webber: Turku, August 2008.

1 comment:

Burak Ozdemir said...

In my opinion, there are some important facts about social networking.
They keep collecting information in every detail they can.Privacy is beeing harrassed and damaged, and in the near future people can face with really serious problems... (not just simple spams, more serious than that)

Check out this article it is really saying what I mean