Proper Facebook Etiquette

#305 The Facebook effect: good network breeding

Friday 18th January, 2008

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By what measure is Facebook a ‘good’ network?

Breeding matters. Is that not what writers such as Austen and Bronte spent so much of their literature qualifying? For livestock, good breeding means that they are healthy; for social networks this translates over into a qualification of not how many, but the quality of network links. As the pedigree of social networks Facebook holds its own and, in turn qualifies who are a part of the same network. A modern case of where being networked is a value to unto itself.

Much debate about social networks has been led by the press led scare mongering of ‘time-wasting’ that has been a cultivation of the less than sophisticated means of communication and devaluing of information. Moreover, the latest observers of New Social Media (NSM) have been quick to criticise the rise of the ‘cult of the amateur’, or as I like to re-phrase the ‘stupidity’ of the ‘many’ who are those that seek to gain credibility by building up connections that are quantifiable, rather than qualifiable. However, in terms of social networking and the cultivation of a Facebook presence it must be recognised that this network alone holds a diverse lot. Version 1.0 of the Web was previously the domain of the ‘super geek’ and then the ‘educated elites’, before Facebook opened its doors, now ‘anyone’ can be networked to everyone.

And so back to ‘breeding’. To cut to the chase there are two sets of agenda that take place when cultivating a social network.

  1. Scenario no. 1. an individual who wants to manage their own already established networks in order to stay well informed and in touch.
  2. Scenario no.2. for all those network junkies, for whom social networks become valued by the quantity rather than the quality. These are the individuals that are most likely to give you ‘good karma’ or to add you to their ‘HotList’.

Now this may be too simplistic a division, but in terms of groups of friends this does provide some measure to begin to separate out the kinds of relationship stratifications that are taking place. Think of the above scenarios as representative of two ends of a continuum and two extreme sets of network personality. At one end; is the network junkie, and at the other, the network select.

Taken as a collective social networks begin to take on a form and life all of their own. For example, that first instance when someone who is ‘known’ through a network and is also ‘friends’ with someone else on Facebook. In a sense these are aggregations of connections upon connections that build upon points of contact. Such connections all affect our judgements and value of ‘friends’ and friends of friends. In this respect digital social networks represent that, that the individual is already familiar, ie. the networks that they are aware of and as they appear offline. On, SNSs these hold and expose what these connections might be, where links are automatically shown between ‘friends’, in a limitless capacity. On Facebook one of the most striking actions is that these kinds of connections are connections that are made for us. Did you know, that so and so knew so and so? Connections, that no matter how tenuous would in the ‘real’ non-networked world have been all to easy to miss.

For many on Facebook the key to good networking is through the right connection, and sets of friends. Taken as a one, the individual is solely responsible for their own networks; making and breaking connections along the way. As a member of a community of networks and series of links the individual represents the weight of the group and ‘power’ of association. And such associations need not be tied to numbers, but to the type of network that is being ‘bred’, or that one is a member of.

One valued connection on Facebook is worth more than the 100s of anonymous ‘friends’ on MySpace. Why? Because you ‘know’ the other person and have a vested interest in the value of your own network.

28 Responses to “#305 The Facebook effect: good network breeding”

  1. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ worker

    see the latest post ‘workface’… might have some insights…

  2. Anonymous says:

    Used Facebook a lot last year but been reading things about employers checking out Facebook. The milk round has arrived and I worried that I need to tone down all those apps and stuff that I use. Don’t want a respectable bank seeing we was shitted last night again! Suppose I could check the privacy thing but then they wont see what a great guy I am. Should I make up a face for employers – up all night reading company reports…e

  3. Anonymous says:

    I don’t want 2 b on facebook but me U friends all use it and say I’ll miss out. I like being out of the crowd. Think they are sad 4 using it so much.

  4. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Facebook addict,

    Can yuou get addicted to FB?
    Short answer: YES, but its not a ‘bad’ thing…

    you might find this earlier posting helpful…


  5. Anonymous says:

    My b/friend is a F/B friend but so is this cute guy I met a Uni. I can’t uninvite B/F but all the Uni crowed are tied up with cute guy. Any hints at how I can keep both happy?

  6. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ STD Anon,

    openness is a great thing, especially on social networks BUT remember that naything that you post has permenancy – yes even once deleted!

    ALSO potential employers do have a presence on SNSs, something to keep in the mind for the future.

    So whilst i do applaud your frankness, I would instead send a private message to the select few in your social network that may be affected by you little ‘itch’. You need to keeep in mind that ‘real’ social actions/posts have ‘real’ consequences too, as some of those who may be affected by such news may not respond so positively to your disclaimer!

  7. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ anon and coming out on FB

    Remember this is about lifestyle and SNSs are about both social life and style rather than being distinct from these.

    And so a decision needs to be made whether you want a level of visiblity in terms of sexuality, gender etc both at work and home, and whether to converge all aspects of your private and public life across these areas.

    Social networks offer up access. What they do not allow for is the reaction and response to such access.

    I’m going to post a longer more formal blog on this soon. Meantime i would urge that you put to the fore whether you want to ‘come out’, and then how to orientate your social network(s) around this , rather than the other way round!

    Good luck!

    Whatever you do though, prob one best saved for not posting as a status update!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Can – should – you have nude photos on Facebook? I’m a nudist so seems right to me but I don’t know what the Facebook rules are

  9. Big Sis says:

    You are so right- why didn’t I think f a family blog. I could even do a podcast to freak everyone out.


    Big S

  10. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Jeff,

    In terms of a ‘family friendly’ SNS, there is none yet , per se. BUT if we define SNS by shared content and a community of users then sites such as Flickr, YouTube etc. could indeed be seen as more family orientated. Especially as is the case with Flickr. However, these are built around media ‘motivations’ if you like where the premise that you have content to upload or review, rather than for mediate communications.

    What you might find useful, as i mentioned before, in terms of ‘family togetherness’ and security is to host your own ‘family blog’ that allows content to be seen and reviewed only by yourselves. There are other SNSs that offer services to make up ‘closed’ networks of links, but really all these are , are ‘fancy’ blogs and theres nothing that you can’t share and post that you can’t do on a blog – unless you have a family keen on wall posting, hotness rating etc.

    i’ll come up with a longer and better posting on this later! hope that helps for the ‘now’!

  11. George says:

    Wise words Miss Maz. Will get the olds onto Facebook :)

  12. Anonymous says:

    This is a advert on your site see

    LOL – will u be having course too – TV show ??? 😉

  13. Anonymous says:

    Got the link to you – so a question
    My boyfriend won’t get into Facebook cos he says there is no point for him (not being a student). But I feel he is keeping away from me and does not want me to share his things. Everyone I know is there and I want to include him in. But is he not getting committed or I’m I being unreasonable ?

  14. Anonymous says:

    Can you get addicted to Facebook? My friend is always on the the thing – says she will miss out if she does not look at it all the time. Even in lectures she gets it on the mobile and fiddles with it. Down the bar – you guessed it! God knows what she does on a date. Can’t make out if she is saying that we real people are not as important or if she is too important for us. Do we care if we know what she id doing now?
    What thinks you?

  15. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ George,

    Its all about knowing where your ‘pack’ roam so to speak. The beauty of FB in its early days was that it was for ‘just’ those with university email addresses.

    Now open to all , social networking has spread beyond the university campus, and perhaps those who would naturally have roamed such territories such as mature uni students have been put off by the levels of MySpace api’s and ‘intrusions’ into what was an exclusive ‘uni club’. However it is likely that you will find more and more of your colleagues on FB anyways. Just take a look at how many BBC reporters and Guardian journalists you can spot.

    Other more academic networks to try is useful for scoping out others with similar agendas and collegues in the field. a bit american based, but still worth a ‘hunt’.

    Otherwise another good approach to try is to serach by ‘group’ on FB that way you identify users in your network (ie attached to your uni ) and who share similar interests.

    what is interesting about this kind of networking is that it is taking those known entities offline and replicating them online with people whom you are not necessarily acquainted yet!

    Otherwise FB still represents one of the most dynamic of SNSs, but as i mentioned at the top of this its all about where your friends ‘hang out’ so if youre getting requests from friends from other social networks i’d take time to ‘hang out’ there as well! Nothing like being free with your social network affiliations!

    Just dont join MySpace, but thats my personal opinion! 😀

  16. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Big Sis

    You might like this service for staying in touch too!

  17. Jeff says:

    Hi Maz,

    Great blog – just read last comment – is there a family sns – one that if designed for different generations and hooks into say Facebook but keeps stuff separate. As you point out what is fun for a 20 year old might not be right for a 10 year old.

  18. George says:

    Is 40 too old or is there a better sns. I’m a mature f/t student and all the others use it.

  19. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Big Sis,

    Short answer; it’s going to be tricky to ‘get’ people to use anything. The great thing about SNSs is that they seduce you, so you do not even realise that you are ‘using’ and necessarily ‘immersed’ within them.

    Having said that every generation has their learning curve and where once email seemed something ‘new’ and dare I say ‘novel’ and ‘innovative’, so too social networks represent for some a time lag to catch up and catch on to using these! Having said that the demand in terms of social networking presence is over represented by the social demographics of those termed ‘Silver Surfers’. To the extent where companies such as Saga have created a site aimed directly at such users.

    One strategy would be to ‘subtly’ send out a ‘friend’ request from Facebook to your brother, sister and parents. BUT perhaps its time for you to play in a more appropriate social networking playground.

    Bebo is much more ‘teen’ and youth friendly. Unlike MySpace there are not the ‘pervs’, and unlike Facebook the profile arrangement is not as ‘grown up’ in terms of the interface and level of content. You don’t want your 10 year old sis getting a ‘hotness’ request after all!

    In terms of your parents generation, well just like email and phone calls they tend to appreciate any level of interaction that makes a connection to you.

    Another method would be a family based blog, something that is private to your family and that you can all post to!

  20. Big Sis says:

    My brother is 12 and my sister is 10. I’m away at Uni and email them both. Should I get them to use Facebook? It would be fun for them to see what Im doing and I miss then. Yes my Dad is a friend but my Mun can’t use the PC so…

  21. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Anon,

    This is a more than serious issue and will take some more thought. Anon i’ll get back to you asap! Sit tight for now and don’t update your FB status as ‘out’ just yet…

  22. Anonymous says:

    My life is facebook :) So should I go public instead of just tell the couple of people it involved that I got an std off one of them? A public notice might warn others as I know one guy won’t do anything about it.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Should I come out on facebook? At work no one knows I’m guy and I might get stick if they did but my friends do know. I’m not clearly out on Facebook but as I include people from work it may become clear to them. What do I do and is a work and home Facebook profile possible?

  24. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Realtime,

    Yes Social networks are funny like that , there you are quite ‘happy’ ambling along and then suddenly take off, as connections snowball and newsfeeds, pokes etc suck you into the social networking world. ANd then can you imagine life without them?!… poss not!

    Like the reference to the ‘no-one knows youre a dog in cybespace’ cartoon. incidently before Facebook no-one knew how many ‘doggy friends’ you had, they do now! bow-wow!

  25. Miss Maz Hardey says:

    @ Mags,

    I’d be delighted for you (and not me for once) to come up with any questions or observations that you have and want delved into!

    look forward to receiving them soon!

    Miss Maz

  26. Mags says:

    Great Blog – only just found it via the feed!

    Can we post a question or issue and get a response on the the blog?

  27. RealTime says:

    “If you are a dog, you are a dog on facebook too” paraphrasing the old saying to get at what I mean. I do not mean to offend as this comes from gendered insults I believe originally concerning attractiveness. I like facebook because it is more real. I really did not find so many old friends nor my wife until we used facebook.

  28. Henry :) says:

    OMG Im so fit so should be well connected but not! Fluff me whiskers…

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