Supporting Participation in Online Social Networks

Supporting Participation in Online Social Networks

Agostino Poggi (University of Parma, Italy), Paolo Fornacciari (University of Parma, Italy), Gianfranco Lombardo (University of Parma, Italy), Monica Mordonini (University of Parma, Italy) and Michele Tomaiuolo (University of Parma, Italy)
Copyright: © 2019 |Pages: 21
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-7271-8.ch006


Social networking systems can be considered one of the most important social phenomena because they succeeded in involving billions of people all around the world and in attracting users from several social groups, regardless of age, gender, education, or nationality. Social networking systems blur the distinction between the private and working spheres, and users are known to use such systems both at home and at the work place both professionally and with recreational goals. Social networking systems can be equally used to organize a work meeting, a dinner with the colleagues, or a birthday party with friends. In the vast majority of cases, social networking platforms are still used without corporate blessing. However, several traditional information systems, such as CRMs and ERPs, have also been modified in order to include social aspects. This chapter discusses the participation in online social networking activities and, in particular, the technologies that support and promote the participation in online social network.
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The result of the interactions among the users in a social networking system is an online social network, i.e., a special case of the more general concept of social network. A social network is defined as a set or sets of actors and the relations defined on them (Wasserman & Faust, 1994). Social networks are typically studied using social network analysis, a discipline that focuses on the structural and topological features of the network. More recently, additional dimensions have been added to the traditional social network analytic approach (Monge and Contractor 2003; Borgatti and Foster 2003; Parkhe et al. 2006; Hoang and Antoncic 2003).

The study of structure of Online Social Networks, expressed as patterns of links among nodes, can exploit models and ideas from classical sociology and anthropology, with particular attention to contextual and relational approaches. In fact, all the results obtained in decades of studies of human networks are also at the basis of the analysis of online social networks. However, these results cannot be simply applied to the different context of online relations. Instead they have to be evaluated and adapted to the new networks, which may have significantly different structure and dynamics.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Virtual Team: A group of workers connected mainly through information and communication technologies that is often temporary and exists only until the achievement of a specific goal.

Social Capital: Is a form of economic and cultural capital derived from interpersonal relationships, institutions, and other social assets of a society or group of individuals.

Online Network of Practice: A group of people who share a profession or an interest, whose main interactions occur through communication networks and tools.

Privacy: The right to be secluded from the presence or view of others.

Social Network: Social structure made by individuals and organizations that are connected by relationships; relationships that may represent various kinds of ties between member and that can be either symmetrical or asymmetrical.

Social Networking System: A software system that allows users to manipulate a representation of their online social networks and to interact with the other users in the system, especially collaboratively discussing user-produced resources.

Virtual Organization: A network of autonomous organizations and individuals, typically with the main aim of sharing resources in a coordinated fashion.

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