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what do you think of this topic for study.


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just wrote this up quickly..... i will pretty much study whatever i propose for the rest of the term....

yes? no?

It is often said that “It’s not what you know, but who you know†that matters in our society. Social power in Western culture was once largely based on knowledge; how educated are you? In the electronic age, social standing was determined by information; what can you provide? As “Web 2.0†emerges out of its infancy, we are witnessing yet another change in what deems a person socially powerful; who can you connect?

Social Networks have always been the way Western culture organized itself, both socially and economically. However, without specific technologies, social networking is limited both in size and in how quickly it can adapt to changes. In this new era of instant connection and the internet, social networking knows no boundaries. Online networks such as Facebook are connecting people on both global and local scales. Furthermore they are quickly establishing themselves as the foundation of our lives.

I wish to explore the social and technological climate that has put these networks onto the global forefront. Why are certain sites like Youtube, Facebook and Wikipedia flourishing at an exponential rate? These three sites alone have revolutionized the way our society receives its entertainment and information. They are also changing the way companies make themselves marketable. Market research and advertising has quickly aligned itself with this new social network revolution. On the front-end politics of Facebook has quickly established it as the most user friendly way to connect to those around you. Simultaneously, the back end of this social powerhouse has turned it into an infinite network of consumers who are sharing their every interest and daily activity.

Furthermore, these networks have also empowered the most effective advertising method of all; word of mouth. A product or political campaign that gains a buzz on the internet is hit with millions of hits within a matter of hours as people swarm their blogs, facebooks, and message boards. This is why social power now lies in connectivity. A single person is merely a node with no potential of connectivity. However, as one acquires access to a variety of networks, they increase their ability to influence the world around them; the key word here being “varietyâ€.

While this networked society is connecting people on a global scale, not everyone has access to the technology necessary to participate. However, everyone is ultimately influenced, shaped and controlled by those connected in this new social structure. The privileged elite are no longer those who are able to attain the most expensive education, but those who are able to connect the fastest and on the broadest scale. Ultimately, our society will soon find itself in a social structure where if one does not exist on a website like Facebook, one does not exist.

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I suggest a slight change to your hypothesis ("A single person is merely a node with no potential of connectivity"). If you read the work of James Burke (of Connections fame, among other things), you start to realize that the connections between people (e.g., the social clubs and "salons" that flourished prior to the 20th century, and even who's-married-to-whose-cousin relationships) have profoundly influenced society (and what society produced) long before the internet existed.

If you can find it, his book Twin Tracks is chock full of the connections between people that made things like possible. In it, he starts with an event/occurrence, and then follows two separate tracks of connections (between people, or between events) to reach the same result. (This is decidedly different from the usual "linear" / single-track way of documenting history.)

An alternate hypothesis might deal with whether the new social websites (and networks) really accomplish anything. Are they going to fundamentally revolutionize society? Is merely being linked from someone's Facebook page a true connection, or is more (like person-to-person interactions) required?

You seem to have the topic of study based around a particular conclusion ("if one does not exist on a website like Facebook, one does not exist"); it might be better to investigate whether the new "personal connectivity" is really productive or not.

Aloha,

Brad

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agreed. pick one "network" and go with that. im not so sure wikipedia is a social network, nor is youtube. only facebook would seem to be an actual network, in my mind.

i did some work on this years ago - check out the original CMC lit, like "cybersociety" by steve jones and "life on the screen" by sherry turkle, to concretely frame your approach. and dont forget the classic power in social network stuff like Mill's "power elite" and Porter's "vertical mosaic".

neat stuff. looks like fun. :D

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i think both wikipedia and youtube are social networks because

1) they are dependant on those who use them.

2) they achieve more power the more poeple that use them from a variety of backrounds

3) they connect people in a totally new and different way.

also....bradm, i mention that social networks have influneced culture since forever....its just they were limited by TIME/SPACE. now there are no boundries...which is why its a totally different beast.

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mention that social networks have influneced culture since forever....its just they were limited by TIME/SPACE. now there are no boundries...which is why its a totally different beast.

I think bradm is right that there is an argument in there that they are also "totally different beasts" because of a qualitative difference in the depth and end usuage of the connections.If you remove time and space boundaries from meaningful social networking I don't think you get Facebook.Atleast I hope not.Optimally the convergence of meaningful connections between all people, removed from strictures of space and time, approaches ideas of the noosphere.Is facebook or it's ilk the beginning of that? The internet yes, Facebook itself-I dont think so-atleast not at present.

Interesting stuff though.

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mention that social networks have influneced culture since forever....its just they were limited by TIME/SPACE. now there are no boundries...which is why its a totally different beast.

I think bradm is right that there is an argument in there that they are also "totally different beasts" because of a qualitative difference in the depth and end usuage of the connections.If you remove time and space boundaries from meaningful social networking I don't think you get Facebook.Atleast I hope not.Optimally the convergence of meaningful connections between all people' date=' removed from strictures of space and time, approaches ideas of the noosphere.Is facebook or it's ilk the beginning of that? The internet yes, Facebook itself-I dont think so-atleast not at present.

Interesting stuff though.[/quote']

2 spaces after your periods please, we don't want Dima to get any bad habits ;)

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I wonder if people are talking about how revolutionary social networking because of the amount of information that's transferred (or the number of connections that are made). As a hypothesis, how about investigating the amount of information transferred, its cost, and its value. How many messages on MySpace, for example, are "thanks for the add!" type things?

There was a time in society when people who wanted to send information across the ocean had to pay for it by the letter. If you pay a high price to transfer information, you're very careful to get good value for your money.

If transferring information (and making inter-personal connections) is free (or really, really, cheap), what does that do for the value of the information or connection? If the same total value of information is transferred, but along with it there's a lot of useless information, then the average value (or usefulness) of what you get diminishes. I suspect that on social networking sites, the "wheat-to-chaff" ration heavily favours the chaff.

Aloha,

Brad

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