Connection, Coupling, and Persistence in Online Social Networks

Connection, Coupling, and Persistence in Online Social Networks

Barrett S. Caldwell
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-60960-057-0.ch027
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The rise of multiple online social network sites represents a new set of opportunities for persons to develop and sustain a variety of personal and professional personas with increasing ranges of access. In some cases, these sites allow individuals to enable or re-establish connections with members of a social network that are separated over time and distance. For instance, the author’s children are now able to find friends from elementary school, and reconnect with them as they enter into adulthood, providing renewals of relationships from childhood that in past eras might have dissolved. One child is also demonstrating professional development in an online social network community for musicians. New rules and considerations for social interaction and management reflect changing uses of information and communication technologies (ICTs) in a richly integrated Information Society. These considerations can be described in terms of mathematical properties of coupling, persistence, and work functions associated with accessing, sharing, and transitioning among multiple social representations that evolve and diverge over time.
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Elements Of Functional Ict Benefits

The growth of online communities and social network technologies has substantially influenced the ability to find another person through multiple channels and mutual personal connections. The advent of widespread internet-based ICTs in the 1980s and 1990s, including the development of bulletin boards and discussion groups, allowed the creation of professional and personal communities of practice or social affiliation that no longer aligned with an individual’s current physical community of place. Some researchers decried this phenomenon as the harbinger of a new era of social isolation and breakdown of interpersonal interactions. Others, such as the author’s Group Performance Environments Research (GROUPER) laboratory, emphasized the ability of internet communications to support a greater variety of social interactions and self-identified communities not tied to communities of place (Taha & Caldwell, 1993). This might be seen as especially valuable for members of minority or alternative subcultures, who might be unable to find others with similar interests and values nearby; those without options to routinely use other channels to socially interact with others due to infirmity or illness also found value in social reintegration (Brennan. Moore, & Smyth, 1995; Brennan et al., 2001).

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