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Subject: Re: Is a "summit" a summit?
From: Glen Murphy <[log in to unmask]>
Reply-To:Glen Murphy <[log in to unmask]>
Date:Fri, 16 Apr 2004 22:47:25 +1000

text/plain (109 lines)

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What you're saying Danah might be true, unfortunately the general
public, fuelled by uninformed and typically lazy media reporting tends
to latch onto terms such as "social networks", however well established
they might be.  What results is a popularisation (and in I think
especially in this case) a trivialisation of something that obviously we
all feel has a great deal to offer society.

Associated with this (particularly in my field) is the risk that the
study of social networks is perceived as a fad - which by definition
tend to be short lived and receive little support or interest after the
initial exposure.  The Management and OB fields have only really taken a
serious interest in social network analysis in the last 10 years or so
and it would be a shame for its hard fought legitimacy to be questioned
by a public perception that "it's to do with things like Friendster 'n

I take your point (at least I think I did) that we/others have to work
harder to differentiate the various elements, and develop more
appropriate descriptions.  I have even stopped using the term "social"
networks when I'm explaining the concept to managers and people within
organisations as I find people tend to fixate on friendship and
socializing networks, as opposed to the various other informal networks
that exist within orgs.

Cheers, Glen.

Glen D. Murphy
PhD Candidate
Work Effectiveness Research Program
School of  Management
Faculty Of Business
Queensland University of Technology

Ph.  07 3314 8061
Mob. 0403 001 623

-----Original Message-----
From: Social Networks Discussion Forum [mailto:[log in to unmask]] On
Behalf Of Danah Danah
Sent: Friday, 16 April 2004 7:13 PM
To: [log in to unmask]
Subject: Re: Is a "summit" a summit?

*****  To join INSNA, visit  *****

On Apr 12, 2004, at 10:10 AM, Barry Wellman wrote:

> On a possibly related note, I was at a recent conference at Microsoft
> where most participants spoke about "social networks" as if it were
> limited to Friendster, Linkedin, Orkut, et al. And didn't really care
> about anything more.

Barry... i think that you're over-reacting.  What i think is happening
is a conflation of multiple concepts into one umbrella term: social
networks.  This is probably bad for this list, but not surprising to me
as i've watched it happen to privacy, context and identity too.

People don't know how to talk about the phenomenon that covers sites
from to Orkut.  This is a specific brand of website that
has been ?problematically? labeled "social networking sites."
Embracing those sites like bookends are sites like Spoke/Visible Path
and LiveJournal/IM clients.  They don't quite fit into the
aforementioned cluster.  Yet, some people use the term "social
networking sites" to include the bookends too.

Then, of course, there are the folks interested in social networks who
recognize that *tons* of technologies engage people's social networks,
particularly anything with a communication component.  Of course, we
probably shouldn't even begin to address what counts as "social
software" and what does not; that is a bloody dreadful term.

So, i would posit that what you heard as people speaking about social
networks as only the first cluster is that they were trying to find
language to address that cluster, failing miserably and returning to
the pop culture description - social networking sites.  As for whether
or not they cared about any other potential cluster that could be
labeled as social networks, i think it depends on who you're talking
to.  If you're talking about the folks designing Wallop, perhaps that's
really their primary focus right now.  If you think that's all i care
about, Barry... you know me better than that.  And there were a lot of
folks in that room who did care, even if their first introduction to
the concept of social networks came through Ryze/Friendster.  I know
that they care; that's why they listen to me - i'm not feeding them
Gladwell (even though i love his pop-culture writings); i'm making them
aware of Fischer and Feld and Burt and McPherson (and correcting
misreadings of Granovetter and Milgram and Dunbar).

So, Barry, i think that you're being dramatic.  I just don't think that
people are aware of what's going on in soc, anthro and the beloved
interdisciplinary academic zones.


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