Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Twitter as an Imagined Community

life is asymmetric. "The notion of "community" has often been caught between concrete social relationships and imagined sets of people perceived to be similar. The rise of the Internet has refocused our attention on this ongoing tension. The Internet has enabled people who know each other to use social media, from e-mail to Facebook, to interact without meeting physically. Into this mix came Twitter, an asymmetric microblogging service: If you follow me, I do not have to follow you. This means that connections on Twitter depend less on in-person contact, as many users have more followers than they know. Yet there is a possibility that Twitter can form the basis of interlinked personal communities - and even of a sense of community. This analysis of one person’s Twitter network shows that it is the basis for a real community, even though Twitter was not designed to support the development of online communities. Studying Twitter is useful for understanding how people use new communication technologies to form new social connections and maintain existing ones."

Imagining Twitter as an Imagined Community. (2011) American Behavioral Scientist, 55(10) 1294-1318, doi:10.1177/0002764211409378

Comment: Not an earth shattering paper, but it makes the point that, schooled in the notion of symmetric "friend" relationships by Facebook, most people have not grokked the asymmetric nature of current social networks such as Twitter and Google+, and hence they struggle with them.

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