Monday, November 24, 2008

Keeping Connections in Social Networks

Shirkey (2008) focuses on how relationships within social networks are built and maintained, and some of the strategies that are necessary in order to control vastly expanding networks. The Small World network is used to explain the important functions amongst groups, mainly focusing on the theory of “…small groups connect tightly, and then you connect to other groups” (p. 216). This strategy allows for individual groups to form a stronger relationship between each other, but it is necessary to have a group member that reaches out and links to another group among the network. This horizontal structure is particularly effective because most users aren’t vital to the existence of the network, but only those who are considered as the connectors between groups. These social networks allow people to reach out to friends of friends to gain more knowledge about similar interests that occur between groups.

Another focus of Shirkey in the chapter is how “good” ideas are brought about in organizations. It is best to mix in outsider’s opinions and ideas to gain a 360 degree view of the organization. This will help prevent only mainstream thoughts and ideas that often occur when taking opinions from only with a specific department.

As a current user of both Facebook and MySpace, I often find myself looking through my friend’s buddy list to discover connections that I might not have realized on the surface. Some people that one may want to relate to might slip through the cracks, but the network allows for groups to link out to other people. The theory of having a couple of highly connective people can easily be related to my personal experience in social networks because I have a couple of people who everybody seems to know and have a personal connection with. These people would be vital to the existence of social networks.

Shirkey, Clay. (2008). Here comes everybody: The power if organization without organizations (chapter 9). New York: Penguin.

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