Monday, August 06, 2007

Concern over social networks

A social network is a social structure which generally comprises of individuals, groups or organizations that are tied by one or more specific types of relations, such as values, visions, ideas, friends, kinship, business, or even web links.

Research by a number academics has shown that social networks operate on many levels, from families up to the level of nations, and play a critical role in determining the way problems are solved, organizations are run, and the degree to which individuals succeed in achieving their goals.

Friendship networks tend to be larger in younger groups, but they have weaker ties with those they talk with. But as they get older, the networks are smaller and they have stronger ties.

Some experts worry that cellphones will replace face-to-face contact, said Scott Campbell, who teaches communication studies at the University of Michigan, USA.

But what was set up as a purely business strategy is having an unintentional social effect. It is dividing the people who share informal bonds and bringing together those who have formal networks of cellphone “friends.”

Maybe they should blame the cellphone carriers. The carriers, after all, set up plans that encourage subscribers to talk mainly to people in the same network. The companies say they are simply trying to recruit and retain customers.

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