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Networks and Social Software

Imagining a New Kinship of Networks
Presentation to Software Socialism Seminar 8th November 2002

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Social Software: Contexts
• A context for Social Software
– Individuals and communities have growing capacity to communicate – Social Relationships are re-imagined in a context in which networks are understood as defining features of the world – Understanding and consciousness of networks enables the generation of social capital

The Anthropological Context of Social Software
– A long tradition of devices which allow us to think through, map and analyse social relationships – A potential contribution to the art and science of re-thinking relationships in a networked world

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The Arrival… You must be…who? Do we know each other?
• Instinct on arrival in any social environment?
– Putting people together: social bearings and relatedness – Interpreting the flow of meaning within the social webs through which we operate – A „political economy‟ of information exchange, reciprocity and flow

A person is people
– Max Weber : social relationships are constructions of people „taking each other into account‟ – Difficult to understand a person unless you appreciate their wider social environment

“I know, and I know that everybody else knows and I know that everybody else knows that everybody else knows” Robert Redfield

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Kinship and Relationships





– As logic is to philosophy, kinship is to anthropology…but don‟t leave the room now – The nature of relatedness and the organisational „logic‟ of a community
Descent Affinity Siblings Moiety Pedigree Lineage Tribes

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Mapping Networked Places

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Mapping Networked People

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A Blogger‟s View(s)

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A personal visualization tool which allows anyone like you to see how your social network is connected. “A social network is simply who knows who” “This software works by analyzing an individual's email files to generate a list of connections. A surprising amount of data comes from its ability to form groups out of individuals”

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Creating Social Glue from Links
• The world of Networks and Relationships
– Consociates: daily, face to face interaction – Contemporaries: aware that they live, make assumptions about them, and how they live, but never meet them. – Predecessors: we cannot influence, but aware of and influenced by their actions – Successors: no experience of but we can orient our actions towards them.

Growing networks, interconnections through which we live our lives and need to navigate Social Software, a kinship tool for the post-industrial, mobile, networked information age Which helps us track, understand and intervene to nurture social capital

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