Social networking site revulsion

This week’s topic is concerned with SNSs – social network sites – like Facebook, MySpace and Friendster. It’s been really interesting to study since I don’t know much about the social phenomenon. I’ve got a few reasons for never having joined an SNS: I’m reluctant to follow social fads, I don’t need another reason to waste time on the internet and I honestly see it as an outlet for self-absorbed people to show off flattering pictures of themselves to their zillions of “friends”. Hm. How many people have I just offended? Ok, I can appreciate the fact that SNSs help people stay in touch and encourage self-expression, but I just can’t help but have nauseous flashbacks of high school popularity struggles.

Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship by Danah M. Boyd and Nicole B. Ellison was a great study of SNSs and their place in modern society. I never knew that the unifying feature shared by all SNSs was the visible display of connections. This list of friends is essential to the identity of the user. Boyd and Ellison write that “social network sites are structured as personal (or “egocentric”) networks, with the individual at the center of their own community”. I suppose that it’s human nature to consider yourself the centre of the universe, so having a SNS page devoted to yourself and your friends only reaffirms that belief. And is a blog or a personal webpage any different?

If you want to do more reading on SNSs, take a look at the article “10 Ways Social Media Will Change in 2009” posted on readwriteweb.com. Another good one is Cathy  Cockrell’s “Plumbing the mysterious practices of ‘digital youth'” which discusses how today’s kids use web 2.0 tools.

In class on Wednesday it was really interesting to hear Jaclyn’s presentation on LiveJournal, the social networking site. It seems like a really cool way to get connected involved with communities sharing similar interests as you. I wish I had known about the site while I was living abroad, it would have been a great way to meet fellow expats.

After class, my group and I met up for 15 minutes to talk a bit about our web project. Although we’d love to discuss everything online via email or the ning group, we’ve come to realise that we have to meet in person at least once to hammer out some of our ideas. The first assignment has brought a lot of questions to the surface about what everyone’s vision for the website is. We’re meeting Wednesday night.

Fitzroyalty is the site I’ve been keeping tabs on throughout this course. I’ve noticed a cool feature the blog uses. At the end of each post there’s a list entitled “Posts you may find relevant and interesting”, which links you to archived Fitzroyalty posts. It’s a cool trick for keeping readers interested in the blog.

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