What is Social Networking?


Social networking is a category of Internet communications technology that uses a wide variety of simple tools to help people make connections with each other and to use those connections as pathways to bring them together around shared activities and interests. Students are tremendously interested in social networking sites because of the community, the content, and the activities they can do there. They can share information about themselves and what they are doing, find out what their peers think about topics of interest to them, share photos and links, and post updates or exchange messages easily with all their friends. Relationships are the currency of these systems, but we are only beginning to realize how valuable a currency they truly are.

The next generation of social networking systems will change the way we search for, work with, and understand information by placing people at the center of the network. Social operating systems aim to enable sophisticated new tools that can learn and infer context from our social graphs — who we know — and use those connections to assess credibility, affinities, and even our likes and dislikes. Using the inherent body of background information in our communications flows, these tools make it easy to identify useful connections to people or groups of people that are a likely fit for our interests, be they casual, social, or even work- or learning-related.

INSTRUCTIONS: Enter your responses to the questions below. This is most easily done by moving your cursor to the end of the last item and pressing RETURN to create a new bullet point. Please include URLs whenever you can (full URLs will automatically be turned into hyperlinks; please type them out rather than using the linking tools in the toolbar).

Please "sign" your contributions by marking with the code of 4 tildes (~) in a row so that we can follow up with you if we need additional information or leads to examples- this produces a signature when the page is updated, like this: - alan alan Jan 27, 2010

(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • Sharing of information/ideas, asking questions of and gathering information from colleagues and the wider community, making connections that might not other wise have been made - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • The shift from communities to communities of practice - neil.witt neil.witt May 16, 2011

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • Managing volume of information - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Persistence of information (easily lost in rapid flow, but also difficult to completely delete) - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Ethical issues such as ownership of information, unintended consequences of release of personal information or opinion, control of private v public information - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • The role of social networking in a PLE - neil.witt neil.witt May 16, 2011
  • cultural and literacy challenges regarding use of social networks - more lurkers than contributors - chris.cobb chris.cobb May 17, 2011

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on teaching, learning, research or information management within the next five years?

  • Ability to reach a much expanded community in order to gather opinions and/or monitor for information and trends - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Source of data for research purposes - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 15, 2011
  • Everything is social. One values the opinions of those that we know. Such will be the same in learning and research. - david.harrison david.harrison May 18, 2011
  • another response here

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

Please share information about related projects in our Horizon Project sharing form.
Just came across the University of Reading's This is Me project for digital identity management via an ALT email. Looks potentially interesting. - kelly.smith kelly.smith May 17, 2011