The Social Networks inside Communities
As we’ve learned, most of the strong relationships in ourpersonal social network(a.k.a.personal network) were developed in communities that were once part of our lives. Figure 1 illustrates the dynamics of a person (hypothetically Bob, the red dot inFigure 1) joining a community (yellow).
From personal experience, you probably recognize the fact that when someone joins a community, the rest of his personal network does not necessarily join with him. That is, your friends generally do not follow you everywhere, at least not immediately, and not all of them. Why is this? The main reason is because people have different interests and they have communities of their own. Upon joining the community and interacting with other community members, Bob would create weak ties (dotted lines). If the interactions were mutually desirable and have the proper environment to develop over time, then some of these emerging weak ties will grow into strong relationships, which will ultimately become part of Bob’s personal social network.
As you can see, it is definitely possible to have social networks within a community. In fact, social networks will develop naturally in communities that provide a rich medium for their members engage and interact. Members who have invested much time and effort in the community will tend to have a more extensive network (e.g. the orange dots), whereas new members (e.g. the red dot) will tend to have fewer connections. But this is just one part of Bob’s social network (i.e. the localized social network inside this particular community).
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- Community vs. Social Network (digitalassetmanagement.org.uk)
- Social Graphs: The Art and the Insights (digitalassetmanagement.org.uk)
- The 2010 Social Networking Map (downes.ca)