Steve Walker

Some less or more well-organised thoughts

Social groups and social networking sites

with 2 comments

There’s been an interesting discussion going on on the AIR-L (Internet researchers) mailing list over the last couple of days, triggered by a posting by Barry Wellman, about social networking sites and their varying demographics. For example, one contributor suggested that some social groups see facebook as being middle-class, even elitist, compared with sites like myspace and bebo.

If there is evidence to support this (and to be fair, the comments were only tentative) this would would have potentially important implications for those of us thinking these tools in social action settings, or in education more widely. Arguably, these social differences may be rather more significant factors in choosing online environments than relatively minor functional or presentational differences between the services.



Written by Steve

June 22, 2007 at 2:05 pm

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  1. Have you seen dannah boyd’s blog post on this topic?

    For me, Facebook’s recent creation exclusively within the ivy league universities – and it’s subsequent opening up from there will have had a strong initial effect on who could afford to be on Facebook. I think this may change over time. However dannah makes some interesting points about ownership of these services by groups of friends. Perhaps different services allow people to explore different facets of their identity or to communicate with different groups of friends.

    Otherwise – bring on the portable ‘social graph’ – and then we can be on all the sites at the same time:

    Ben Dalton

    October 30, 2007 at 10:12 am

  2. I think it was this essay which triggered the discussions on AIR-L.

    Talking with students on the Communities Online module here this semester, there has clearly been a ‘MySpace-flight’ to Facebook. Interestingly, when asked they cite preference for the technology when asked why; when asked further they generally end up concluding it’s ‘because that’s where my friends are’. A similar thing has happened with a flight from Hi5 to facebook too.


    October 31, 2007 at 10:07 am

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