Response to "Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship"

Okay so I actually found this article somewhat interesting. The oral presentation that I put together covered Web 2.0, so therefore I already had a pretty good background on social-networking sites before reading this article. But I have to admit, even though I do have a facebook, I personally am not all that wrapped up in using sites like that. I am more like Clay Shirky from this article in that I simple see them as YASNS: “Yet Another Social Networking Site."

I did find it interesting however, that the article pointed out that they choose not to employ the term “networking” because networking emphasizes the initiation of relationships, and although it is possible through sites like Facebook and Myspace, it isn’t the primary focus of Social-networking sites. They then point out that these sites are unique because they “enable users to articulate and make visible their social networks.” In my opinion, as it is pointed out later in the article, this corresponds with what I believe to be a major factor that separates social-networking sites from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC): identity management. Sites like Facebook give users the ability to decide what information they want to display, distort, or withhold altogether. To some extent, almost everybody who uses these sites are guilty of being “Fakesters” (as the article calls them) at one point or another. Along with the ability to edit your information in order to create a “cyber” image of yourself, impression management is also impacted by which friends and groups you choose to be associated with. Unfortunately, in my mind, these abilities have almost turned sites such as Facebook into an online popularity contest for some users, especially college-aged. You want to portray yourself in the best light possible for the crowd you are trying to attract. And this is the primary reason that I became turned off from these kinds of social networking sites.

Getting back to the Web 2.0 aspect, I do think that social networking sites are a great platform for business, small business, and even non-profit organizations to advertise themselves, get there name out, and possible increase their success. I also find it kind of interesting that the boom of SNSs came from 2003 onward, which was during the first years following the “dotcom crash” in 2001. And hence, spawned during the birth of Web 2.0.

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