GoogleTranslate Service


Social networks – not new but different

January 11th, 2010 by Graham Attwell

An interesting post by Tim Kasteele on Networks and the Information Glut. Tim links to the video above by Dan Edelstein showing the social networks of correspondence among 18th Century scientists:

As Tim says:

“It’s great research that illustrates some important points:

  • When we talk about ’social networks’ we don’t just mean facebook and twitter. People have always functioned within networks, and these have always been important in the development and spread of ideas. James Fowler makes this same point in his interview with Stephen Colbert.
  • Ideas diffuse through networks. The structure of the networks through which we are trying to get our ideas to spread has a significant influence on the diffusion of our innovations. Our connections within the network can enhance or hinder our ability to get our ideas to spread. One of the reasons that Darwin gets credited with the idea of evolution through natural selection instead of Alfred Russell Wallace is that Darwin’s connections within the scientific community at the time were more numerous, more widespread, and better.
  • Even though we often feel like we’re overwhelmed with information and data to be absorbed, the information glut is nothing new. Think about the volume of connections shown in the video. Or think about Charles Darwin – over the course of scientific career he sent over 15,000 letters. It’s safe to assume that he received just as many. Think about how much time he would have spent reading & writing letters, and how much new information and ideas would have been included in that – it’s probably more than we’re spending writing our blogs, updating our statuses and twittering. In fact, if you just look at the networks, you might argue that Darwin was the Chris Brogan of the 19th Century.”

Of course Tim is right in saying that social networks are not new. But it may be worth considering what has changed through the spread of social software powered networks.

One change is speed. I do not know how fast the post was in the 19th Century (probably no slower than today 🙂 ) but today’s communication is almost instant. When I have finished this post I will press the publish button and the article is in the open. I wonder though if the speed of communication is leading to less reflection on what we are writing.

There are changes in power relations. Notwithstanding Facebook’s claim to own our data and to control our privacy, today we can all publish our ideas, rather than in the past when publishing was limited to those with money or to selected researchers and writers.

Moreover Twitter, blogs and wikis have opened up access to ideas. Perhaps more important than access to scholarly writing such as papers is access to discourses as they happen.

Of course, the use of new media raises the question of form and content. I can very much imagine that Darwin would have loved to have a wiki for his research. I can imagine him blogging from his iPhone in the Guadaloupe Islands. Twitter could have been useful for sending messages back home but I am not so sure it has the same affordances as a letter. Mind, Jo says Darwin might have Twittered “Got new theory, check out my new blog on it”. I am not so sure.

One question which would be very interesting to see is the patterns and interaction between social networks. My guess is that today we have denser patterns of overlapping networks – though I may be wrong.

And one of the most interesting things about today’s forms of social networks is the straying between discipline areas. Whilst I guess 19th century networks tended to be organised in fairly strict disciplinary or subject groups, today’s networks tend to wander across different subject areas and domains. It seems Time Kasteele is in the French department at Stanford. And when his video came to an end up came the video on Welsh and the importance of minority languages which we are currently featuring featuring on the front page of this site.

3 Responses to “Social networks – not new but different”

  1. Tim Kastelle says:

    Thanks for the mention! Interestingly, the post was actually significantly faster in the 19th century, at least within cities. Most homes had pickup and delivery 3 or 4 times per day, so it was not unusual to send a letter in the morning post and to receive a reply the same afternoon. Nevertheless, your general point about speed is well taken.

    I think your question about the density of our networks is a very interesting one. I’m not sure what the answer is – it would make a great research project! I also wonder about how the intensity of ties might be different too.

Tweetbacks

  • Search Pontydysgu.org

    News Bites

    Zero Hours Contracts

    Figures from the UK Higher Education Statistics Agency show that in total almost 11,500 people – both academics and support staff – working in universities on a standard basis were on a zero-hours contract in 2017-18, out of a total staff head count of about 430,000, reports the Times Higher Education.  Zero-hours contract means the employer is not obliged to provide any minimum working hours

    Separate figures that only look at the number of people who are employed on “atypical” academic contracts (such as people working on projects) show that 23 per cent of them, or just over 16,000, had a zero-hours contract.


    Resistance decreases over time

    Interesting research on student centered learning and student buy in, as picked up by an article in Inside Higher Ed. A new study published in PLOS ONE, called “Knowing Is Half the Battle: Assessments of Both Student Perception and Performance Are Necessary to Successfully Evaluate Curricular Transformation finds that student resistance to curriculum innovation decreases over time as it becomes the institutional norm, and that students increasingly link active learning to their learning gains over time


    Postgrad pressure

    Research published this year by Vitae and the Institute for Employment Studies (IES) and reported by the Guardian highlights the pressure on post graduate students.

    “They might suffer anxiety about whether they deserve their place at university,” says Sally Wilson, who led IES’s contribution to the research. “Postgraduates can feel as though they are in a vacuum. They don’t know how to structure their time. Many felt they didn’t get support from their supervisor.”

    Taught students tend to fare better than researchers – they enjoy more structure and contact, says Sian Duffin, student support manager at Arden University. But she believes anxiety is on the rise. “The pressure to gain distinction grades is immense,” she says. “Fear of failure can lead to perfectionism, anxiety and depression.”


    Teenagers online in the USA

    According to Pew Internet 95% of teenagers in the USA now report they have a smartphone or access to one. These mobile connections are in turn fueling more-persistent online activities: 45% of teens now say they are online on a near-constant basis.

    Roughly half (51%) of 13 to 17 year olds say they use Facebook, notably lower than the shares who use YouTube, Instagram or Snapchat.

    The survey also finds there is no clear consensus among teens about the effect that social media has on the lives of young people today. Minorities of teens describe that effect as mostly positive (31%) or mostly negative (24%), but the largest share (45%) says that effect has been neither positive nor negative.


    Other Pontydysgu Spaces

    • Pontydysgu on the Web

      pbwiki
      Our Wikispace for teaching and learning
      Sounds of the Bazaar Radio LIVE
      Join our Sounds of the Bazaar Facebook goup. Just click on the logo above.

      We will be at Online Educa Berlin 2015. See the info above. The stream URL to play in your application is Stream URL or go to our new stream webpage here SoB Stream Page.

  • Twitter

    RT @bonni208 “The more women they had on a team - the better they did.” #awil2019 pic.twitter.com/WvwzXJOVgk

    Yesterday from Graham Attwell's Twitter via Tweetbot for Mac

  • China has committed £22bn to education technology research; Britain has given less than £1m theguardian.com/education/201…

    About 53 minutes ago from Cristina Costa's Twitter via TweetDeck

  • Sounds of the Bazaar AudioBoo

  • Recent Posts

  • Archives

  • Meta

  • Upcoming Events

      There are no events.
  • Categories