Social Web Theory

For reasons I cannot go into at this time I have been advising over the course of the pass several weeks a person older than myself in the ways us younger people (can I still claim that?) use social networks. Most specifically we’ve been looking at Facebook and Twitter.

I’ve been hesitant in my advice for a few reasons: 1. I am basing my lessons purely on my own personal observations with no real outside citations and 2. I have had at length conversations with others my age (I’m 28) about how we don’t fully understand how people who are younger than us use these resources.

However, in thinking about these things I have just proven correct one of my tenets of social web sites. I had been telling my tutee that Facebook is more casual and merely an extension of real-world relationships and twitter is a bit edgier in that it does not rely on approval for connections to be made. Instead Twitter is less about friendship and more about reputation. Browsing around the web today I just discovered some evidence which seems to prove me correct.

I just read an article from Kottke.org about Facebook and Twitter and decided to look Jason Kottke up on both networks. Given Jason’s status as an internet celebrity it’s not surprising he has a large number of Twitter followers (nearly 10,000 as of this writing). A glance at his Facebook page is quite a contrast, however. He has a mere 13 friends. Interestingly he does have a public profile meaning that anyone can browse through a large amount of info on him — that’s something for a separate post.

This probably comes as no surprise to anyone who regularly uses both forums but given that I have been teaching someone social etiquette on these sites it’s nice to have outside verification of my assumptions. I wonder if anyone has done a comprehensive book on how people use Web 2.0. I suspect that it would be outdated shortly after writing it. Until then we’ll have to live with Internet Party as a singular source on the topic.

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