02 septiembre 2010

What an online social network is

As wikipedia well defines, a social network service is "a platform that focuses on building social relations among people" and I sometimes have wondered what a social network is and what is not. Let us go through it.

Some well known examples of online social networks are: Facebook, Linkedin, Xing, MySpace, Twitter, Tuenti (mostly in Spain and recently acquired by Telefonica) ...

An online social network intends to replicate the real world relationships and as, in real world, every person may be related to those with similar interests and likes, they also may be related to others who are contacts of the their contacts or with a shared past, like same university, same home town, whatever that would make you have a relationship of any kind, may be a good reason to keep such relationship in an online social network with the difference that the geographical distance does not play any role, one can be related to any person with internet access.

An online social network should provide users with some services:
:- a blog where to share status, links, pictures - wall on Facebook, timeline on Twitter, professional profile on Linkedin, ...
:- a messaging mechanism
:- a way to make and delete a friends - followers on Twitter, contact on Linkedin, ....
:- a way to group some individuals - lists on Twitter, groups on Facebook and Linkedin
:- a mechanism to manage the visibility of the information and messages shared
:- optionally, some platforms provide a chat engine.

Well, according to the above written, the instant messenging could be a social network or even the sms of your mobile ... the only difference I see is the usability of Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin and the other guys is much better than your mobile ;-)

3 comentarios:

Oscar G. dijo...

Great post Mariano !!.

I would like to add just a modest thought.

As social sciences know quite well, social influence its a great driver for human behavior; we have evolved as social beings and these social networks are just starting to touch human dynamics in this field.

It seems that social networks are not still quite aware of how human interactions affect our lives, and they also seem to have a somehow reduced knowledge of social dynamics.

Social networks do have a great potential and they might show greater advances as social & human sciences get more involved in their development. These group of sciences do have much to say as what should a social network need to include as human social dynamics have more than 100 years of scientific study on their backpack that could be used.

Dont you feel as if all those social sites always lack of something ?. Twitter needs something else, so does FaceBook, but the answers are not in the solution set of a team of teams of engineers nor web designers.

Unknown dijo...

Thanks for your comment.

Social networks are actually a tool which can be used in many different fashions. Simple concepts - like Facebook's "like" or Twitter's "follow" - build around them very complex and dynamic reality, basically, because the technology, to me, is only a means for the human to make sense of it.

A good example of this is Twitter, it is so simple that all twitters (including me) are making their best effort to give it meaning.
When I signed up on Twitter back at the beginning of 2007, I liked but I said, let us see what features and functionalities will add in the next months - I was thinking of chat engine, sidebar and usual suspects. Well, as of today, only a few things have been added to it, namely, lists and ... only lists, nothing new since then. Twitter suceded in placing user first and very much above technology, design, web elements.

Oscar G. dijo...

Thats it !!.

When I think of twitter I recall scenes of people standing out in the street, talking to each other.

The ability to "talk" to a group(i.e. twittering) is just a basic block that allows for human processes such us rumors, gossip, alerting the community, etc.

My feeling is that technology providers are making well at providing basic tools to "keep on talking", but are failing in understanding the human processes they support.

I would like to use your words to illustrate this thought: "only a few things have been added to it, namely, lists". That's ok, but I would rather like to see social dynamics centered features.

As always; great to read you !!.