the internet is an online social network

November 7, 2006

Let me first start off by saying that i was part of the group who presented “online social networks” this week.

As the group of us began deciding on which online social networking websites we would examine, something dawned on us: “the whole internet is an online social network!”

 now, certainly, there are some sites which incorporate more online social interaction than some other sites, for example, myspace is definately an ‘online social network’, but what about Digg? if you head over to the group presentation this week on online social networks (PLUG PLUG PLUG), you’ll find out how it is that digg works… what do you think? is it an Online Social Network? there are social aspects to digg, the stories that are ‘dug’ the most make it to the front page, users ‘digging’ a news story technically interact together by showing a consensus on which news articles they ‘dug’… but is this degree of social interaction “enough” for you to consider it an online social network? there really is no clear definition of exactly how much social interaction is required for a site to get pigeon-holed as an ‘online social network’. should we be happy with ‘degrees of social-ness’ for online social networks, that is, are you ok with ‘digg’ and, say, myspace, being in the same ‘online social network’ category considering the great degree of seperation that exists between them in terms of how social the sites are? is any degree of social interaction, no matter how ‘asynchronous’ the interaction is? or is synchronis communication/interaction the key to making it into the ‘online social network’ category?


2 Responses to “the internet is an online social network”

  1. amanda said

    great question, Randy! have you read danah boyd’s recent definition of a “social network site”? (just added it to By her definition (which I tend to agree with, for the most part), digg can be considered a social network since it meets the three major criteria (profiles, publicly articulated social network, and comments – although comments on digg are a little different than comments on something like myspace); however, I would definitely consider digg a social network edge case (if at all) since the social networking components are sort of incidental to the main point of the site.

    Anyway, I’m curious to hear what everyone else thinks…

  2. Kelly said

    My inital reaction was that digg is not a social network site. I use digg, yet I don’t know the names of anyone who contributes to digg, have any digg “friends” or interact with anyone in the process. After learning more about social networking I would agree that digg has some of the elements of a social networking site (e.g. comments, profiles), but I don’t think that its main purpose is to create a social network. I would agree that it’s a borderline case.

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