Social Communities


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This deck provides a point of view on social networks and the communities they enable.

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Social Communities

  1. 1. Perspectives on Social Networks Tim Boileau - February 2009 1
  2. 2. 2
  3. 3. Two Perspectives Analogy to Social Epidemics “The Tipping Point” - Malcolm Gladwell Networks and Social Media “Here comes Everybody” - Clay Shirky 3
  4. 4. Social Epidemics Tipping Point Agents of Change for understanding Social Epidemics: The Law of the Few The Stickiness Factor The Power of Context 4
  5. 5. Law of the Few Law of the few means that a very small number of people are linked to everyone else in a few steps, and the rest of us are linked to the world through those special few. Law of the few says that Connectors, Mavens, and Salesmen are responsible for starting word of mouth epidemics, which means that if you are interested in starting a word of mouth epidemic, your resources ought to be solely concentrated on those three groups. 5
  6. 6. Law of the Few - People Connector – one who accumulates people. Connectors are people with a special gift for bringing the world together. Connectors know lots of people in many different worlds. Connectors don’t have to be found, they find you. Connectors are social glue. Maven – one who accumulates knowledge. They aren’t passive collectors of information, they have a need to share it with others. They are like the ‘helpers’ in the marketplace. Mavens have the knowledge and the social skills to start word of mouth epidemics. Mavens are data banks. Salesmen – have the skills to persuade us when we are unconvinced of what we are hearing, and they are critical to the tipping of word of mouth epidemics (along with connectors and mavens). 6
  7. 7. Stickiness Stickiness – means that a message makes an impact. You can’t get it out of your head. It sticks in memory. 7
  8. 8. Power of Context Power of Context says that people are more sensitive to their environment than they may seem. An example of this is that when people are in a group, responsibility for acting is diffused. Social epidemics are sensitive to the conditions and circumstances of the times and places in which they occur. 8
  9. 9. Characteristics of Communities Communities grow out of cultures Communities create stickiness through discussion Rule of 150 – communities lose value for members when they grow beyond 150 members Communities develop “transactive memory” (distributed cognition) in which knowledge is externalized by the individual, yet internalized within the community (mediated via tools/artifacts) 9
  10. 10. Social Media When we change the way we communicate, we change society. The tools that a society uses to create and maintain itself are as central to human life as a hive is to bee life. The collapse of transaction costs makes it easier for people to get together—so much easier, in fact, that it is changing the world. The lowering of these costs is the driving force underneath the current revolution taking place in social networking. 10
  11. 11. Cooperation Cooperating is harder than simply sharing, because it involves changing your behavior to synchronize with people who are changing their behavior to synchronize with you. Unlike sharing, where the group is mainly an aggregate of participants, cooperating creates group identity—you know who you are cooperating with. One simple form of cooperation, almost universal with social tools, is conversation; when people are in one another’s company, even virtually, they like to talk. 11
  12. 12. Collaboration Collaborative production is a more involved form of cooperation, as it increases the tension between individual and group goals. The litmus test for collaborative production is simple: no one person can take credit for what gets created, and the project could not come into being without the participation of many. Structurally, the biggest difference between information sharing and collaborative production is that in collaborative production at least some collective decisions have to be made. Collaborative production can be valuable, but it is harder to get right than sharing, because anything that has to be negotiated about, like a Wikipedia article, takes more energy than things that can just be accreted, like a group of Flickr photos. 12
  13. 13. Collective Action Collective action is the hardest kind of group effort, as it requires a group of people to commit themselves to undertaking a particular effort together, and to do so in a way that makes the decision of the group binding on the individual members. The commonest collective action problem is described as the “Tragedy of the Commons,” biologist Garrett Hardin’s phrase for situations wherein individuals have an incentive to damage the collective good. The Tragedy of the Commons is why taxes are never voluntary—people would opt out of paying for road maintenance if they thought their neighbors would pay for it. Collective action involves challenges of governance or, put another way, rules for losing. 13
  14. 14. Group Forming The essential advantage created by new social tools has been labeled “ridiculously easy group-forming” by the social scientist Seb Paquet. Our recent communications networks—the internet and mobile phones—are a platform for group-forming, and many of the tools built for those networks, from mailing lists to camera- phone, take that fact for granted and extend it in various ways. Ridiculously easy group-forming matters because the desire to be part of a group that shares, cooperates, or acts in concert is a basic human instinct that has always been constrained by transaction costs. Now that group-forming has gone from hard to ridiculously easy, we are seeing an explosion of experiments with new groups and new kinds of groups. 14
  15. 15. Social Network Evaluation Promise-Tool-Bargain Shirky points out that there is no recipe for success with social media but defines three broad rules… “a successful fusion of a plausible promise, an effective tool and an acceptable bargain with the users.” Three lenses to look at social media: promise, tool, and bargain. 15
  16. 16. The Promise Promise. The promise is the basic why for anyone to join or contribute to a group. Do we believe in this social network? Is there a desire to participate? Does the promise offer higher value than other things we could be engaged in? What is the actual lived promise of the group rather than the stated or explicit promise? Will group members believe other people will also join and engage in this group? 16
  17. 17. The Tool Tool. The tool determines how the media will work. Which tool or tools will help people make and keep their promise? What are the best tools for the intention of the site or media? Will the tool help people do what they want to do? How do I choose the appropriate tool given the geometric growth of social media tools? Does the tool help deliver on the promise? 17
  18. 18. The Bargain Bargain. The bargain sets standards of behavior and norms for and by the group. What bargain are we entering into if we join and participate? What is expected of us and what is the code of conduct? How do the users co-create the bargain of the group? What can you expect of others and what can they expect of you in this group? Do the users agree to the bargain and is it a lived interactive experience in the group? The essential aspect of the bargain is that the users have to agree to it. It can’t be instantiated as a set of contractual rules because users don’t read the fine print. 18