Software Agents for Human Interaction in Social Networks

Software Agents for Human Interaction in Social Networks

Christian Erfurth (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany) and Volkmar Schau (Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Germany)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-61520-851-7.ch008
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Abstract

Social networks like Facebook or MySpace have become very popular in recent years. The number of users visiting these networks on a regular basis is already very high and still increasing. The integration of users into such networks is typically achieved via web interfaces. In addition, modern mobile devices have been developed to support the “reachable everywhere” mentality. They feature up-to-date communication and web interfaces, offering the capacities of small computer systems. By combining these capacities with so-called mobile software agents, a seamless integration of users in on-line communities can be reached. This chapter highlights the potential of software agents for sophisticated interaction in ubiquitous, mobile applications by utilizing the example of social networks as a practical scenario.
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Background

Social networking and community interactions have been the global consumer phenomenon of 2008. Nielsen Online points out that social network and blogging sites are now the fourth most popular activity on the internet ahead of personal emails (The Nielsen Company, 2009). The story is consistent across the world and dates back to the early days of computer networks. Following the SixDegrees.com experience in 1997, the doyen of social network sites that allowed its users to create profiles, invite friends, organize groups, and surf other user profiles, hundreds of social networks burst into life (Acquisti & Gross, 2006; Goble, 2009). From 2003 onward (see Figure 1), many new social network sites were launched (Boyd & Ellison, 2007), prompting social software analyst Clay Shirky (Shirky, 2003) to coin the term YASNS: “Yet Another Social Networking Service”. All services, as a definition for social network sites, consist of a web-based service that allow users to construct a public or semi-public profile within a delimited system, set up a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.

Figure 1.

Launch dates of social network sites (Boyd & Ellison, 2007)

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