Evolving Digital Communication: An Actor-Network Analysis of Social Networking Sites

Evolving Digital Communication: An Actor-Network Analysis of Social Networking Sites

Mohini Singh (RMIT University, Australia) and Jayan Kurian (RMIT University, Vietnam)
Copyright: © 2014 |Pages: 16
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-4666-6126-4.ch013


This chapter analyses elements of social networking sites to establish how a combination of heterogeneous elements of technology, media, language, users, data, and information are networked together to provide this new communication media. Social networking sites are also referred to as social media sites, which can be explained using the Actor-Network Theory. Social networking sites have clearly achieved widespread adoption as a new means of communication in a very short time around the globe. An analysis of literature on social networking sites is included in this chapter to reflect the new social networking language and style, the content shared via this media, the mode of use, and the language used for communication, which is a combination of a number of technological and social entities. This chapter explains how the Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can be used to explain social networking and includes some issues for research on this topic.
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Social networking sites are fast becoming the principal communication and information sharing tool used by people of all ages, and backgrounds in all regions of the world. Social networking sites also referred to as social media sites are developed on the Web 2.0 platform, which offers an architecture for participation and allows users to control their own data and information (Kim et al., 2010). Web 2.0 is an extension of Web 1.0 on which individuals deliver content and services in the public domain creating a network effect through which others can access, update and combine content (Cummings et al., 2009). Characteristics of Web 2.0 enable formation of communities via collaboration and information sharing; novel methods of data presentation with ‘mashed up’ (combined) information from different sources; and with Ajax supported creative and responsive interfaces (Ankolekar, et al., 2007). Social networking applications therefore developed on the Web 2.0 platform are designed around architecture of participation and communal collaboration (Sena, 2009).

Individuals are using social networking sites for communication, collaboration, information sharing, networking, finding ‘lost’ friends and forming communities. Although business organisations are also resorting to social networking sites for advertising, marketing and engaging employees (Singh et al., 2010), the focus of this chapter is on ‘social’ user issues and characteristics of social networking for users. Web 2.0 based social networking sites are widely used by all age groups and their adoption is increasing by the day. In this chapter the aim is to establish the characteristics of social networking from the most popular sites (each with over 30 million users) and determine their ‘dimensions’ of networking and communication.

These are noted in Table 1.

Table 1.
Social networking sites with over 30 million users - February, 2014
Social Networking SiteDate of OriginRegistered Users in 2013
FacebookFeb 20041.15 Billion
TwitterJuly 2006500 million
Google+June 2011500 million
LinkedinMay 2003238 million
InstagramOctober 2010130 million
PinterestMarch 201070 million
MeetupJune 200235 million
ask.fmJune 201034 million

Source: http://www.ebizmba.com/articles/social-networking-websites

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