Defining Web 2.0 Social Networking

A definitive definition of a Web 2.0 “Social Network” is as hard to come by as a definitive definition of Web 2.
Written by Donna Bogatin, Contributor
A definitive definition of a Web 2.0 “Social Network” is as hard to come by as a definitive definition of Web 2.0 itself. 

Tim Berners-Lee recently noted (see “Evolving from Web 1.0 to Web 2.0”) the seeming futility of encapsulating fluid and amorphous interactive applications into digital sound bites saying: “I think Web 2.0 is of course a piece of jargon, nobody even knows what it means.”

Nobody may know what a Web 2.0 “Social Network” means either.

In “Del.icio.us is already a social network,” Fred Stutzman takes exception, and rightly so, with the notion that Del.icio.us, a social book marking service, would not be considered a social network.

Not only is the tag line of Del.icio.us “social bookmarking,” two of its three call-out slogans to users foster personal communication and interaction, or networking socially:

all your bookmarks in one place
bookmark things for yourself and friends
check out what other people are bookmarking

Del.icio.us wants its users to embrace social bookmarking to network socially:

What is del.icio.us?
del.icio.us is a collection of favorites - yours and everyone else's.

What is social bookmarking?
del.icio.us is a social bookmarking website, which means it is designed to allow you to store and share bookmarks on the web…

First, you can get to your bookmarks from anywhere, no matter whether you're at home, at work, in a library, or on a friend's computer.

Second, you can share your bookmarks publicly, so your friends, coworkers, and other people can view them for reference, amusement, collaboration, or anything else..

Third, you can find other people on del.icio.us who have interesting bookmarks and add their links to your own collection. Everyone on del.icio.us chooses to save their bookmarks for a reason. You have access to the links that everyone wants to remember…

Stutzman on how people create and share bookmarks to connect through a “sociality in the network” of del.icio.us:

Social networks connect us - something that del.icio.us has been doing since its very inception. The difference here is that the link is the object center of the sociality in the network. It is most useful to compare to Flickr. In Flickr, we browse photographs through a number of paths - tags, groups, pools - and while the photographs are still the center of the network, these social features enable a deeper form of sharing and browsing. The social aspects compliment the core content, rather than replacing it.

I believe the del.icio.us will stick firmly to keeping the link the object center of the network. By adding social features, we'll have new ways to find content - and we'll be able to find out more about the people who share content. This will be very valuable to those who use del.icio.us for research and analysis - and it stands to unite communities of practice. When I see 10 other people bookmarking an obscure link about social networks, I want to know more about those people. With lightweight social features, we all stand to gain from our link-centric connections.

Del.icio.us’s link-centric connections foster social networking just as the MySpace and Facebook profile-centric connections do.

MySpace calls out to its “friends” to “share photos, journals and interests,” Facebook calls out to its “students” to “share information” and Del.icio.us calls out to everyone to “share links.”

In Web 2.0 Social Networking, sharing is interactive caring.

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