Posted by: Steven Harris | July 25, 2008

Geography of Social Networking

As I add various friends on my social networks and web 2.0 sites, I’m often struck by how much overlap there is.  I have the same friends in 20 different places.  This got me thinking about what this network of networks means to me. What is the impact of the overlap (and lack of overlap)? And a bigger picture: what does this web of relationships look like? What does it mean for the professional communication within library and information science?

I think it would be an interesting study to examine librarians in social networks, to see how Flickr, Twitter,, Facebook, Myspace, Ning, YouTube, LibraryThing, WordPress, Blogger, and other tools interact and overlap.  To see who has the most friends, which friends are most widespread, which tools are most used.

This is a large and daunting dataset to examine. It needs to be done as a relational database.  Each person needs to have all their social networking tools recorded, but also all the friends they have in each specific tool.  It would be a bit like doing a citation analysis in Web of Science.  Where are the citations? Who are the most cited authors? Who is citing them?

How would I begin to gather all this data? How would I record the info?  How would I analyse the data? How present it visually?  I think some graphs or 3-d maps would be interesting.  Scratches chin.



  1. This social networking means a lot to me and other individuals – at least I think! We can share, keep up-to-date, and come up with ideas more efficiently and more quickly. We can also keep informed about research, and other developments in our field. We can become part of the information flow! The downside is that we can be swamped by Infobabble and actually get confused. Your questions about the geography of social networking are very pertinent! Cheers.

  2. There’s a PhD in that question, I can’t imagine anyone finding time and resources for this in the “leisure” time!
    Your question made me think there’s a need for social metasoftware – or is this what Netvibes does? (I haven’t taken the time to learn how to use this yet), i.e. a single portal to log in to that channels all your other networks and lets you see at a glance what is currently of interest or active.
    Just thinking about your question makes my head hurt but it’s a fascinating one worthy of study: with limited time things need streamlining following the initial flurry of proliferation we seem to be in at present.

  3. schammond: I do some of that with iGoogle, try to organize all my social sites, but it can’t be shared. It’s my eyes only. Netvibes does let you organize your sites and make your page public. It still doesn’t let me mine all the sites for data.

  4. Nice Article On Social Networking ! Thank you for keeping up the good work. I look forward to returning to your Social Network space, and learning more about Business Social Networking from you !

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