Tuesday, September 18, 2007

You're not my friend

friendz Martin has been thinking about the nature of friends, specifically with respect to social networks such as Facebook.

He wasn't all that taken with my suggestion that "contacts" (which has of course already been bagged by Microsoft) was a better term than "friend" for these weird online inter-relationships, often with people we've never met.

Yesterday at a meeting, I met one of my Facebook "friends" I've never seen f2f before. We were favorably disposed, inclined to approve, help, or support, not hostile or at variance, amicable, but not friendly in the social sense.

So why is this guy my Facebook friend? Because we are part of a community of practice, engaged in a shared domain of human endeavor. A community of practice is not merely a club of friends or a network of connections between people. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest, in this case education. We are both members of the community.

So we are more than contacts, but less then friends. We share social capital (Ellison, N. B., Steinfield, C., & Lampe, C. (2007). The benefits of Facebook "friends:" Social capital and college students' use of online social network sites. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 12, 4).

But what should I call them? In this TLA world, I'm leaning towards RLFs (pronounced ralfs) and FBs
(pronounced eff bees).

1 comment:

  1. Dear Friend,
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