July 30, 2008
Goodbye Social Networking
I’ve been doing some research for a presentation I’m creating about Social Networks for the American Marketing Association in September. I came across a great academic paper on Social Networks which I plan to borrow some information from.
In Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison’s paper they describe the term “social network site”:
While we use the term “social network site” to describe this phenomenon, the term “social networking sites” also appears in public discourse, and the two terms are often used interchangeably. We chose not to employ the term “networking” for two reasons: emphasis and scope. “Networking” emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).
They make a very valid point here.
What makes social network sites unique is not that they allow individuals to meet strangers, but rather that they enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks. This can result in connections between individuals that would not otherwise be made, but that is often not the goal, and these meetings are frequently between “latent ties” (Haythornthwaite, 2005) who share some offline connection. On many of the large SNSs, participants are not necessarily “networking” or looking to meet new people; instead, they are primarily communicating with people who are already a part of their extended social network. To emphasize this articulated social network as a critical organizing feature of these sites, we label them “social network sites.”
I have become very conscience of this now. I keep coming across folks incorrectly referring to Social Networks, or Social Network sites as Social Networking, I’ve been guilty of this too. I, Dave Delaney, will refrain from using the term Social Networking moving forward.
Are you with me? Is it goodbye Social Networking and hello Social Network Sites (SNSs) for you too?