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Steve Ransom

The Social Network Paradox | TechCrunch - 18 views

  • Instead, there is a new trend happening: We’re not really paying attention to our friends we’re connected to online. Take Twitter, for example. Twitter used to be a great place for many early adopters to talk tech. It wasn’t so long ago that there were few enough people on Twitter that you could read every single tweet in your stream. But as the network began to become more dense, and people found more people they knew and liked on Twitter, they began following hundreds of people, and reading all those tweets became impossible. This is such a fact of life that entire companies are based on the premise that you have too many friends on Facebook and Twitter to really pay attention to what they’re saying.
  • Therein lies the paradox of the social network that no one wants to admit: as the size of the network increases, our ability to be social decreases.
  • As the number of bits, photos and links coming over these networks grew, each of those invisibly began to decrease in worth.
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  • But as the number of friends begins to increase—particularly over that magic Dunbar number of 150—the spell begins to wear off. At this scale, we simply can’t easily keep track of it all. When our number of connections rises above 150 everything becomes simply comments, as real conversations tax our already limited ability to interface with the network.
  • That mythical thing, social connection, doesn’t flow over these networks; information flows over these networks. The only reason the network ever felt meaningful was because, at small scale, the network operated like a community. But that breaks apart at large scale.
  • The thing about all these is that they’re not a shared experience—they are my experiences, which I am sharing with you, but you probably cannot experience with me—my thoughts or fascination with the article I just posted, the feeling of getting on that plane, or the thrill of watching the Sharks tie the game. Perhaps you can compare your notes of your own experience of these things; that’s what most Twitter conversation seems to be, to me, but the experiences are not shared. This differs from a discussion in a community, such as the type that occurs on SB Nation game day threads. The conversation does not center around any one individual’s experience, but rather the collective condition of the community. The conversation is the experience. Each comment is driven with the purpose of evoking and expressing the emotions that the community experiences, and particularly the ones they hold in common.
  •  
    Great article.
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