Monday, November 24, 2008

Fitting our tools to a small world

For today’s class I read chapter 9; Here comes everybody: The power of organizing without organizations by Clay Shirky. This chapter discussed social networking and the creation of two types of social capital. First, Shirky discussed the phenomenon of a “small world” network and how in most cases social networks connect because of the few people that are connected rather than a large number of people that are connected. One reason that we are often connected to people in a “small world” scenario is “homophily” or “the grouping of like with like” (p.213). The chances that you will share a common friend or an acquaintance with someone is more likely than one would think especially when you both live in the same city.

According to Shirky, bonding capital and bridging capital are different ways that people can connect to increase their social networks. The difference between the two are bonding is the strengthening of a group of people who are within the same group and bridging is the strengthening of connections between different groups of people. One other way of looking at it is bonding capital is exclusive and bridging capital is inclusive.

One of the things that I found interesting in this article is how small the world actually is. It is amazing that you can meet someone at a random location and happen to know someone that they are connected to. It is even more interesting when you happen to know the same people in a large city such as New York City. If you look on Facebook you can discover connections between people that you know. I remember I was on Facebook and I was looking at someone’s profile that I went to middle school with and I realized that she was also friends with someone that I had met in Albany. In a situation like this you realize just how small the world.

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