Intro to Networked Collaboration

New social networks born in Helsinki and Tokyo…

Since Hclong‘s First Week Assignment post talked about some of the practical conveniences and benefits of the many modern social networks that exist today, I will focus on the new types of communication that these social networks have enabled.

I found the way that Rheingold traced the development of modern social networks to Japan (i-mode) and Finland (“tekstata” or SMS) very enlightening in “Shibuya Epiphany”.  It makes sense that early adoption of the new technologies occurred in young adults as they were trying to define their own identities outside of their families.  Rheingold quotes Finnish researchers: “Text messaging is a way to share relationships”.  It seems that it was-and arguably still is-less about content with certain types of social networks and certain demographis and more about the act of communicating (sending messages like “whatchya doing”, “i’m bored”).  It allowed, and still allows, teenagers (and even children) the ability to develop individual identities by expressing themselves, and, as equally important, attaching themselves to a social group through this unmonitored, 24/7-accessible “private” social network outside the direct family group.

I believe this has really affected the way we communicate.  Usage of SMS in the U.S. has certainly caught on since then across many demographics, not only for teenagers.  I think that this has also led to or influenced the evolution of communication… leading to the eventual creation of “Status Updates” in Facebook and “twittering”.  Although these features still are preferred by the younger demographic, I certainly think that many adults see the benefit of communicating using these newer methods that have enriched their lives and in some way have allowed for ‘closer’ relationships with some of their friends.  For full disclosure, I am 31 and have only recently started using facebook.  I can’t say for sure that it has dramatically changed my friendships, but I do think it has added something new to a few of my friendships already.  I will have to see what happens over time.  A NYT Magazine article that will be in tomorrow’s paper reflects on digital intimacy and talks about the introduction of the now two-year old “News Feed” feature on facebook.  It touches on many of the topics that we are discussing this week.

One of the other effects of prevalent mobile communication (SMS/Blackberry/iPhone, etc.) is that some individuals can be looser with time.  I read this example really in one of the readings or NYT article that holds true for me and my friends specifically, while you are getting ready to go to a party or on your way, you may be texting with other friends that are also on their way or already there, so there is this feeling of being together even though you are not in the same place.  Don’t know if this is a good thing if it encourages people to always be late though.  Haha.

Another issue that these readings made me think about is the idea of us interacting with others in our physical environment, and also in a “converstation” with someone else via facebook updates, email, or SMS at the same time.  Now, no one likes the loud cell phone talker on a bus or in another public space, so I think that typing is a dramatic improvement.  You cannot necessarily communicate at the exact same time with someone face-to-face and someone farther away, but are we more distracted because we are worried about texting someone?  I don’t think that this will have an effect on the level of intimacy in face-to-face communication.  What do you think?

I would also be interested in any thoughts regarding the usage of features such as “status updates” and “news feed” in facebook as well as the usage of twitter in the larger population.  What do you think is the greatest benefit or unintended side product of using these tools?

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September 6, 2008 Posted by | social networking, tools and methodologies | , , , , , | Leave a comment