Rettberg’s 3rd Chapter: Online Communities

Rettberg starts out this chapter by with this quote:

On the Internet, everyone is famous to fifteen people, David  Weinberger wrote, in a twist on Andy Warhol‘s familiar line about everyone getting their fifteen minutes of fame.

Rettberg quotes this because on the web, you most undoubtably have 15 people who know you.  In the movie, Amy Adams – who portrayed Julie Powell in the movie “Julie & Julia” – says something along the lines of: “Figure for every single persons that comments, there’s like 10 that read.”

Social Network Theory

Rettberg uses Mark Granovetter‘s theory of weak ties.  Basically, the theory states the following:

If person A has to work on a research paper for their Argument and Exposition class.   Person A is close friends with person B and person C, then it is fair to presume that all three know the same information on person A’s paper topic.  Therefore, person A has to go beyond their social circle of B and C to get different information from person D.  The reason being is because person D is not in person A’s social circle, which means that person D holds different information than person A or their friends.

If you can understand the paraphrase I did above, then hopefully you can understand how important weak ties are.  The reason is due to the fact that they allow us to branch out to different social circles.  This can be shown by how bloggers can link a word or set of words in their post to other blogs – as well as other websites – to help form new circles of both connections and information.

A Note on Links in Blogs in Regards of Weak Ties

For those of you who have taken any sort of Mass Communications or Journalism courses, then you have been drilled with the practice of using sources, especially in terms of the use of online publishing such as blogs.

From what I remember from my days of Mass Communication classes where I had to write “articles” and publish them on my blog, the biggest part of the reason why this is so important to do as a  journalist is due to the fact that the more sources you have – along with strong narrative from the writer – makes it so that your piece is a stronger one.

Distributed Conversations

The main thing about distributed conversations is the power law.  The power law basically equals the more power a blog – or website – has, the more it will get.  What Clay Shirky is getting at with his theory is that the ‘power’ in this law just means that once your blog is established among the 15 members that Rettberg mentions at the start of the chapter, they will start spreading the URL among their friends.

One thing that Rettberg brings up in the chapter – on pages 66 and 67 – talks about how Google interprets a site that uses a link as recommendation from a blogger.  Therefore, the more times that a URL is used, the higher up on the Google search the link to your blog will be.

Some Other Social Networks

Social networks – not counting blog sites – don’t focus as much on blogging as much as they do as making connections between friends.  Unlike blogging sites, sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn are more more encompassing of blogging as well as other things such as interlinking profiles among people who are friends with each other.  Or at least that is true of Facebook.

The hardest thing that people don’t keep in mind is that the more info people put out onto the web, the more likely that people that we may not want to see something has the chance to see it: parents, professors (all of my professors are really cool), potential employers, and so on.

Reading the Facebook Fine Print that no one Reads

Since October 2007 – I am sure that this has been changed and/or updated since then – Facebook’s Term’s of USes has this clause according to Rettberg on pg 75:

By posting User Content to any part of the Site, you automatically grant, and you represent and warrant that you have the right to grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, nonexclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicensees of the foregoing.

Basically, Facebook is saying: Yo! What ever you post, we own.




    1. Dulce,

      It depends what the professor wants us to do. If you look under #en3177 Bloggers, my classmates and I are taking a course that deals with social media.

      Do you have any suggestions for other blog posts or what you think is good about this one?

      Joe Vito

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