Monthly Archives: July 2003

LiveJournal behaviors

Recently, i’ve been engaged in conversations about behaviors that occur on LiveJournal in relation to the articulated “Friends” element that occurs in many social network systems.

one i call crossfriending. it happens when people meet across mailing lists or other forums. they add each other and their friends list slowly converge after people talk to each other on the fringe overlaps.

the other i call social friending. it used to be that you went to a convention and met people. if you liked them, you would trade addresses (and probably lose them), phone numbers or even cities of origin. then came email addresses. but now you have a livejournal account and all that has to be remembered is a short line of text. the rest – location, domain, identity – is encoded in the address.

what’s interesting to watch is when people meet at local events and add each other afterwards. the jump in connections may take up to a week, but it’s actually visible and measurable.

This type of behavior on LJ could easily be describe Friendster connections as well.

creating explicit connectors

On Friendster, one often sees fake characters that operate as connectors due to a shared interest in a given topic. Simpsons fans might all link to Bart. Likewise, you see “urban tribe” connectors (members of Infinite Kaos connect with the character o the similar name). I’ve also seen alumni characters (Brown University is the one fake character i link to). What made me happy this morning is how explicit people are getting about the purpose of these connecctors.

Black is a character on Friendster whose “about me” profile reads:

Hey ladies, Black is a connector node on the network, not a real person. The sole purpose of this profile page is to create a place where black women seeking women can find each other easily on the Friendster network. If someone suggested a match for you and Black, and you’re interested in adding your profile to the list of fine-ass sistas in Black’s friend list, then add Black Women (first name Black, last name Women) right now! We want to meet you! You can also use to add Black Women.

Of course, this presents a very interesting situation re: Friendster’s dating model. Black is purposely there to help the dating process, but it also collapses the network. Good? Bad? Appropriate only because the number of people identifying with Black will be small?

more Friendster anxiety

Another message is going around on Friendster message boards:

A friend of a friend, who works at the NSA, said that the homeland security department has subpoenaed friendster’s database to weasel out ‘suspected terrorists’. are any of your “friends” on THE LIST???

of course friendster runs on 56k modems… read the front page of the privacy policy. and, horrors if anyone monetizes anything we actually like or use


It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Work in the Information Age

“It’s Not What You Know, It’s Who You Know: Work in the Information Age” is a paper by Bonnie Nardi, Steve Whittaker and Heinrich Schwarz (circa 2000).

We discuss our ethnographic research on personal social networks in the workplace, arguing that traditional institutional resources are being replaced by resources that workers mine from their own networks. Social networks are key sources of labor and information in a rapidly transforming economy characterized by less institutional stability and fewer reliable corporate resources. The personal social network is fast becoming the only sensible alternative to the traditional “org chart” for many everyday transactions in today’s economy.

This is a great paper by very respectable researchers, revealing some of the reasons that there is such motivation to empower individual’s use of their social network.