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Comment on danah boyd’s network effects

March 16, 2009

The social network site researcher danah boyd has published on her blog a recent talk she gave at Microsoft entitled “Social media is here to stay… now what?“. Among other things, she discusses how social network sites are shaped by ‘network effects’. According to Marketing, a network effect is

The phenomenon whereby a service becomes more valuable as more people use it, thereby encouraging ever-increasing numbers of adopters

Danah’s paper has left me wondering about other effects apart from the ‘network effects’ shaping social network sites. What about the ‘field effects’ of the myriad of fields of practice that cut across a site such as Facebook (e.g. journalism, law, sociology, art, etc.)? For example, an art practitioner’s Facebook actitivities are presumably strongly shaped by his or her specialist field, e.g. they would be careful not to anger influential senior practitioners for fear of damaging their career prospects. And what about ‘organisational effects’ and how employees (one would guess) take care not to be rude about their employers? How do the network effects on these sites interact with other types of effects (of fields, organisations, markets, action-sets, etc.)?

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