by MikeW on 06-30-2010 11:51 AM - last edited on 08-15-2010 09:53 PM
Michael Wu, Ph.D. is Lithium's Principal Scientist of Analytics, digging into the complex dynamics of social interaction and online communities.
He's a regular blogger on the Lithosphere and previously wrote in the Analytic Science blog. You can follow him onTwitter at mich8elwu.
This post is the 4th installment of my miniseries exploring the relationship between communities and social networks. Each article builds on concepts that are established in the previous. So, if you missed any one, I recommend reading them before you move on.
1. Community vs. Social Network
2. How Do People Become Connected?
3. From Weak Ties to Strong TiesPreviously in this miniseries, you’ve learn that weak ties can form two ways: in communities and through social networks. But weak ties are developed into strong relationship in communities. This post will explore what happens after a strong relationship is established.
Communities Need Social Networks to Maintain Relationships
You may recall from previous discussions that any individual isoften part of many overlapping and nested communities, because people have many different interests, preferences, skills, etc. So we can create weak ties and build relationships in many different contexts. These are really different relationships even though Facebook simply lumps them together with one identifier ‘friends’. They really should be categorized a little more; such as siblings, beerbuddies, badminton pals, chess club friends, foodie network, movie junkies, nature explorers, CA trail hikers, etc. Moreover, people move to different towns, switch jobs, change interests, or move into different stages of their lives, so people are constantly leaving communities and joining new ones.
So, how do people manage all the relationships they developed across different communities? And howdoes an individual maintains the relationships he has built when he switches communities? You can probably guess the answer. If the relationships are well developed (i.e. they are strong relationships rather than mere weak ties), then they will become part of the person’s social network. Remember (see Community vs. Social Network), each person has one and only one social network. Facebook,LinkedIn, and other social network services (SNS) are really social graphs that reveal different relationships in our social network (see Social Network Analysis 101).
As I’ve mention in earlier posts, I now know quite a few members on Lithosphere and the various LinkedIn groups that I’ve joined. Our interactions around a common topic of interest have fostered the development of our relationships.Subsequently, these formerly community acquaintances have become part of my LinkedIn network, which is a part of my social network that accentuate my professional relationships (see Social Network Analysis 101). Now, even if they leave Lithosphere, or if I leave a LinkedIn group, we still have ways to communicate and interact with each other. And because we have had sufficient interactions to buildour weak ties into strong relationships, we will remember the context of our relationships and trust each other’s opinions under the relevant context.
Therefore, successful communities should integrate with SNS providers, so community members can keep the valuable relationships they’ve built. In case you haven't heard, we've just launched our Facebook App yesterday. This is our first steptowards integrating our community platform with SNS.
Without social networks, communities are siloed, so when a member leaves a community he would probably have to give up all the relationships he built in that community. This is certainly not desirable for community members, but it also has adverse implication for the community.
What’s Wrong with Siloed Communities?
What are some of the...