Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Thickening


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Apparently, we use IM, Flickr, blogging and email to thicken existing social relations. Certainly this is my experience of family contact. Digitally networked environments layer onto phone and face2face contact in interesting ways – did you see the pictures on my photostream/ dad wrote about that on his blog/ see you online tonight at 8.00 etc. The same layering seems to happen in our blended professional lives, too. I’m interested in how our face2face conversations so regularly references our postings – a chance encounter with Dr Joolz (visiting Angie) exemplified this. Some of these ideas are spelt out in Benkler’s new book “The Wealth of Networks” (promoted here). Benkler also suggests that, irrespective of media, we favour the geographically proximate over the distal – which could shed some light on the rather inward-looking nature of some blogrings. But the book also claims that social software allows for new kinds of relationships – those in which we play a more limited role, but are typically “interest or practice-based” (affinity spaces). In this way the argument follows and builds upon Wellman’s ideas about networked individualism. So, Benkler argues that the individual has greater control and can “reorganize […] social relations in ways that fit them best.” I reckon this just about holds up, although sometimes I must say, I feel rather controlled - particularly by email.

16 comments:

Joolz said...

well there is synchronicity ... I was thinking about this too and about how we talk about our posts to each other and how our spaces have become complicated by being online and offline all at once. Bt also about how resonant Flickr play becomes when you have started to meet the people in other spaces than online.
But what about Anya and her relationship wuth her avatar .. that is becoming really amazing.

Joolz said...

and also I like that phrase about thickening social relations. That's clever.

Guy Merchant said...

Ah, I can't take any credit for the thickening thing - that's Benkler's idea and I think it's really about thickening "social ties" which actually works a bit better.

Anonymous said...

Oooohhh this is so interesting - I love that expression too: thickening social relationships. I notice that people who know me offline who also read my blog are relating to me differently - they seem more friendly, more inclined to bring up stuff about theory in everyday conversation (which would never happen usually), and more interested in what I have to say. It's really very exciting. And casual acquaintances who stumble across my blog are now becoming closer - this past week I received about 6 emails from people I barely knew who wanted to get to know me better because they read my blog.

I must write more about me and my avatar - and the blend between real and fictional etc... somebody sent me a message saying that my post creeped him out though so maybe I should tone it down a bit *laugh*

Guy Merchant said...

This is interesting about the 'thickening' additive effect of blogging. I think you should write more and more about your avatar!

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