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Posts Tagged ‘small worlds’

Small Worlds hands on

Posted by gazjjohnson on 16 October, 2008

The power of social networking in a professional environment was self-evident even before yesterday – I wasn’t down to help out with Alan’s session, but whilst we’d been chatting over Twitter the night before he’d invited me to come along.  Glad he did, as it was certainly one of the more satisfying bits of student teaching I’ve done in a while; helped by the excellent student teacher ratio which must have been close to 4:1.  That was certainly better than the RefWorks class I had the other week; but that’s another story entirely.

Yesterday’s session was a follow up to one Alan had led about online social networking and was the hands on explore for yourself resources like Delicious , Twitter and the Small Worlds Wiki for about 20-25 students.  For a good chunk of the session the students were registering on Small Worlds and creating their profiles, and then they were off to explore the various social tools -in most cases it seems without stopping to read the instructions and help on the Small Worlds site. 

Not that I can blame them, that’s exactly what I do – refreshing to meet so many people with a similer learning style to myself!  I spent the time during the session, as Alan put it, “chatting up” the students.  Alan, like my MiL uses chatting up in the context of talking to them, social networking in vivo rather than in silico if you will.  They were a great bunch of students and it was refreshing to see them pretty quickly get to grasp with not just the tools, but how they could use them in their studies and research. Very rewarding, and repeated today with Selina in residence.


Posted in Research Support, Training, Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Shirky on small worlds

Posted by selinalock on 19 September, 2008

The small worlds project at the University is partly inspired by ideas from Clay Shirky’s “Here comes everybody” book.
This is my summary of his ideas on online communities as small worlds:

  • Small worlds network consists of small groups that are densely connected and large groups that are sparsely connected.
  • Links between different groups are through a few “highly connected” people – does this mean our small world advocates need to have the potential to become highly connected?
  • Communities work on the idea of social capital (see: Putnam, bowling Alone for more info)
  • Small groups are held together by bonding social capital e.g. super glue because they know the same people and do the same things.
  • Bridging social capital is what connects different groups together e.g. WD40 – helps grease the wheels between different ideas.
  • Studies showed that people who bridged communities (e.g. had connections outside their immediate Department) were more likely to come up with interesting new ideas.
  • Social networks and ideas such as OpenSource software work on social captial – ie. if I take care of you now then someone will take care of me later.
  • Online social tools work on three principles: 1. A promise (what promise will make me joing the network) 2. Tool (how will the network communicate) and 3. Bargain (what will I get out of this and what will other expect of me).
  • The promise is what convinces a potential user to become an actual user e.g. flickr promises free photo hosting and sharing.
  • Tools have to be easy to use and fit for purpose so that they do not present barriers to users.
  • The bargain cannot be fully determined in advance as the users help create it – they decide on the group values and etiquette.
  • “The important questions aren’t whether these tools will spread or reshape society but rather how they do so.”
  • Posted in Web 2.0 & Emerging Technologies | Tagged: , , , | 2 Comments »