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Computer-Mediated Social Networks Networks and Complex Systems Talk Series, Indiana University November 2004: 

Computer-Mediated Social Networks Networks and Complex Systems Talk Series, Indiana University November 2004 Caroline Haythornthwaite haythorn@uiuc.edu Graduate School of Library and Information Science University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Computer-Mediated Social Networks: 

Computer-Mediated Social Networks Networks created, maintained, and dissolved by communication via computer-mediated communication Email, listservs, webboards, online chat, instant messaging, text messaging, MUD & MOOs, the Internet, etc. Communication Who uses computer-mediated communication (CMC), for what, why, and with whom? What media are used to communicate what kinds of information? And to whom? Life online Are online ties as “real” as offline ones? How do we work together, learn, create new knowledge at a distance and via CMC, with people we rarely or never meet face-to-face? How do we design systems or recommend practices to support work, learning, and community online, and at a distance? Social and technical impacts How does being online change how we work and learn together? How will wide-spread online communication change how we interact, and with whom we create and maintain relationships? What happens if media are removed and/or access denied?

Recognizing complexities: 

Recognizing complexities Multiple simultaneous influences Context, social construction, norms, practices, distributed practices Theoretical perspectives: social construction, structuration, and adaptive structuration; socio-technical systems perspective; information ecology; social worlds; social and organizational informatics; social networks New forms of organizing made possible by the development of CMC and ICT technologies Far reaching impact of “the Internet” the connectedness created by the juxtaposition of technical infrastructures and social uses What happens as a result of laying media and Internet connections?

Traditional Approaches: 

Traditional Approaches Media and the people we communicate with are primarily dealt with as singular Examining use of Email OR listservs OR chat; work-only groups, or play-only groups Face-to-face is still treated as the ideal standard Media declared as better or worse by the number of cues the transmit rather than how they are used Message-medium fit Lean messages should be sent via lean media Little recognition of context and variation in use across contexts But, we … Use multiple means of communication to effect relationships Prefer rich media for all communications Use media differently from our preferences Communicate with people in many walks of life, in many roles, in many different relationships with us

Complexity of CMC: 

Complexity of CMC Media Multiple media available for communication and maintenance of relations People Pairs of actors in relationships differing by type (friendship; work), strength, duration, etc. Multiple relations tieing actors, with the set of relations varying by relationship Contexts Distribution, across time, space, knowledge base, facility with technology, interests, backgrounds, etc. External constraints on schedules, tasks to be completed, media available and/or mandated for use Multiple calls on time and attention

My research: 

My research Adds media into the network equation & networks into the media equation How can we support work, learning, knowledge, and community formation at a distance, via the Internet and through computer-mediated conversations? Who talks to whom, about what, and via which media? What kinds of relations make up work and learning ties? How are these supported via all available means of communication? What patterns of connectivity emerge among group members because of what they talk about and what media they use? Connectivity effects What do these patterns of connectivity reveal about the group and/or about its media use? What happens as a result of laying media and Internet connections? Social and technological interactions How do communication media structure the way we interact with others?

Studies of who talks to whom, about what, and via which media ?: 

Studies of who talks to whom, about what, and via which media ? Cerise Co-located, academic researchers LEEP Distributed, distance learners Interdisciplinary teams Distributed collaborative research teams (in progress)

Cerise: Co-located, academic researchers: 

Cerise: Co-located, academic researchers Media Unscheduled hallway meetings, scheduled classes and research meetings, email (home and office), phone, fax, videoconferencing system under development Relationships Formal or informal working relations, acquaintance to close friend Questionnaire 25 respondents (of 35 member group) answered 24 questions about a variety of work and social interactions with 10-20 others (data for a total of 378 pairs) Six dimensions of work and social interaction: Receiving work (engaged in by 57% of pairs) Giving work (57%), Collaborative Writing (32%) Computer Programming (56%), Sociability (86%) Major Emotional Support (7% of pairs)

Example of question format: 

Example of question format

LEEP: Distributed, distance learners: 

LEEP: Distributed, distance learners Media Internet Relay Chat (IRC) for classes, ‘live’ office hours, sub-group discussions, and whispering; Real-Audio for instructor delivery of lectures; Webboards for classes and the program; Email, Phone, Face-to-face once a semester Questionnaire 4 classes of 14-23 (2 classes studied over time) 4 questions: Collaboration on Class Work, Exchanging Information or Advice about Class Work, Socializing, Exchanging Emotional Support Interviews Students from across the program Exploring characteristics of online community, learning to be part of an online program and community, social support, coping with technology, impacts of being “at school” at home

Major Results: 

Major Results Media use is associated with the strength of the tie Media use is not associated with the content of the message Media choice is not arbitrary follows a unidimensional scale Patterns of ties and media describe tiers of media use supporting networks of different tie strength

Media use is associated with the strength of the tie in number: 

Media use is associated with the strength of the tie in number The intensity of the work tie and closeness of the friendship are associated with Higher frequency of interaction * expected Higher frequency overall, for each relation, and via each medium Maintenance of more relations (relational multiplexity) * expected Use of more of the available media (media multiplexity) * unexpected Found for Cerise and Leep; also found by Koku, Nazer & Wellman (2001) for distributed scholars

Media use is associated with the strength of the tie in adoption: 

Media use is associated with the strength of the tie in adoption Within a group, media appear in pairs’ communication repertoires in a similar order Those who use only one medium, use the same one medium Those who use two, tend to add the same second medium, etc. Cerise (1) Face-to-face Unscheduled meetings (2) Scheduled meetings (3) Email then (4) ‘Other’ media (phone +/or fax +/or videoconference) (Guttman scaling: CR=.92) LEEP (two classes) IRC, Webboard, Email, then Phone (CR=.99) IRC, Email, then Phone (CR=.94) CR=coefficient of reproducibility; 10% cutoff (CR=.90) accepted as indication of a fit

Media use is *not* associated with the content of the communication: 

Media use is *not* associated with the content of the communication What pairs communicate about *does* differ by the type of tie (self-reported) Work-only pairs communicate about work relations Pairs who combine work and friendship communicate about both work and social relations Friends include more frequent communication and more emotional and social communication than non-friends BUT, they do not allocate communications of different types to different media i.e., no support for message-medium fit

Two Patterns of Media Use Emerge: 

Two Patterns of Media Use Emerge The ordered use of media by tie strength leads to media-based group-wide networks that are also tie-strength related Patterns emerge over time, and vary with local use and purpose Illustrated in the following sociograms Note the differences across media, and across time (approx. one month apart)

Slide16: 

F97: Collaborative work via IRC and Email by Time Internet Relay Chat Email Group projects; Webboard also used for discussion, connected all to all Time 1 Time 2 Time 3

Communication Networks x Medium: 

Communication Networks x Medium Webboards Internet Relay Chat Email Guttman scaling, overall communication all term (CR=.99): IRC, Webboard, Email, then Phone [nb: sociograms show end of term] LEEP: Distance students, end of semester

Slide18: 

F98: All communications, IRC and Email by Time Internet Relay Chat Email No group project; Rotating pairs for presentations; Webboard use started but abandoned in this class; it connected very few after abandonment Time 1 Time 2 Time 3

Communication Networks x Medium: 

Communication Networks x Medium Unscheduled Meetings Scheduled Meetings Email Guttman scaling, overall communication (CR=.92): face-to-face Unscheduled meetings; Scheduled meetings; Email; Other [nb: sociograms show the socializing networks] Network densities: .32, .13, .06 Cerise: co-located computer scientists, socializing

Slide20: 

Cerise: Overall Work, and Socializing by Medium Unscheduled Scheduled Email Socializing Overall Work Unscheduled Scheduled Email

Two Patterns of Media Use: 

Two Patterns of Media Use Wide connectivity with low frequency of communication Webboard +/or IRC class-mandated media class-wide, public communicate with the class as a whole Selective connectivity, with higher frequency of communication Email, Phone optional media person-to-person, private communicate with friends and project work mates

Theory: 

Theory Does this pattern of media use suggest some simplification – a general rule – that can explain the apparently complex behaviors?

Theory: A new medium …: 

Theory: A new medium … Creates Latent Ties A connection that is available technically even if not yet activated socially Recasts Weak Ties and Weak Tie Networks A new medium connects formerly disconnected others thereby creating new weak ties A change in the medium supporting weak ties breaks existing weak ties, disrupting existing weak tie networks Causes minimal change to Strong Ties and Strong Tie Networks Strong ties carry on through other media Strongly tied pairs adopt, adapt or jointly resist new media

Creates Latent Ties: 

Creates Latent Ties By providing a technical means of connectivity, social connection is now possible e.g., a physical location, a group meeting, a webboard, a chat room, an email listserv, an online environment But … ties are not activated, i.e., converted from latent to weak, until some sort of social interaction occurs e.g., by attending a group wide meeting, by reading the webboard, by posting to a bulletin board NB: This latent tie structure is likely to be set up by an authority beyond the individuals affected.

Recasts Weak Ties and Weak Tie Networks: 

Recasts Weak Ties and Weak Tie Networks Integrative Effects Connecting disparate others creates weak ties Change can be Technical, e.g., creation of a community network; Administrative, e.g., creation of an electronic list for organization wide discussion; Social, e.g., creating a web environment for interest-based discussions Disintegrative Effects Removing passively accepted connectivity breaks weak ties Change can be Technical, e.g., removal of network connections; Administrative, e.g., removal of access to lists and or removal from a list; Social, e.g., from a ftf meeting to a listserv for discussion, from asynchronous discussion mode to synchronous

Integrative effects: A new medium creates connections among weak ties: 

Increase in connectivity via IRC over time; IRC supported weak ties as determined by to where IRC fit in the unidimensional scale, and by the frequency of communication typically found for IRC Integrative effects: A new medium creates connections among weak ties F97: Internet Relay Chat End of Month 1 End of Month 2 End of Month 3

Disintegrative effects: A change in the medium supporting weak-ties breaks existing weak ties: 

Disintegrative effects: A change in the medium supporting weak-ties breaks existing weak ties Rapid decline in Webboard after official class use was terminated. Note the loss of connectivity among the weakly tied pairs. F98: Webboard (non-)Use End of Month 1 End of Month 2 End of Month 3

Causes minimal change to Strong Ties and Strong Tie Networks: 

Causes minimal change to Strong Ties and Strong Tie Networks If there is a change in a medium used by strong ties, such ties can carry on through other media e.g., strongly tied work pairs can carry on through Email if IRC is removed, or vice-versa Because of their need or desire to communicate They are likely to adopt an extra medium if it is useful for maintaining relations important to the tie Because of their influence on each other They can jointly adapt the use of a new medium to be useful for the tie, or resist its use if it does not suit their needs or ways of working

Implications: 

Implications Adding media use to characteristics of ties Revisiting conflicting results about CMC as arguments about maintaining ties Resolving conflicting results about the integrative and disintegrative effects of CMC Support of static and dynamic needs of groups Choices about media implementation Wider impacts of media connectivity

Add Media Use to Tie Strength Characteristics: 

Add Media Use to Tie Strength Characteristics Weak Ties … Media Use Use few means of communication Use organizationally-established media Communicate infrequently via the one to two media they use Whole network support Weak tie networks were created and sustained via the mandated, organization or group-wide media … Strong Ties Media Use Use multiple means of communication Use organizationally-established media as a base on which they add other media Use private, person-to-person communication (e.g., use email very frequently) Whole network Support Strongly tie networks are supported through both mandated media and other optional, more private, means of communication

Revisiting conflicting results about CMC: 

Revisiting conflicting results about CMC Arguments against CMC Lean Text-based, reduced cues Ill-suited to emotional, expressive, complex communications Disintegrative Anti-social flaming Decreased social involvement (Nie, 2001) Abandonment of local relationships (Kraut, et al, 1998) Arguments for CMC Rich Emoticons and acronyms (McLaughlin, et al, 1995) Group defined genres and rules of conduct (Orlikowski & Yates, 1994; Bregman & Haythornthwaite, 2003) Interpersonal self-disclosure, emotional support; online communities (e.g., Haythornthwaite et al, 2000; Baym 2001) Integrative Connecting disparate others: Bringing in peripheral players, spanning time and space (Sproull & Kiesler, 1991) Maintaining connections even when distributed (LaRose, Eastin & Gregg, 2001; Hampton & Wellman, 2002)

Revisiting conflicting results about CMC as arguments about maintaining ties: 

Revisiting conflicting results about CMC as arguments about maintaining ties Arguments against CMC Lean Inadequate for the emotional and intellectual interactions that support strong ties Disintegrative new media are disrupting existing networks of communication Arguments for CMC Rich Strong tie needs reintroduced by those with strong desire to communicate Integrative new media are creating networks of communication

Implications for Support Groups : Static Demands: 

Implications for Support Groups : Static Demands Information exchange for innovation, learning, exposure to new ideas The strength of weak ties The strength of media group-wide, mandated, public media Task completion related to working together, joint problem solving, projects, etc. The strength of strong ties The strength of person-to-person, optional, private media

Implications for Support of Groups: Dynamic Demands: 

Implications for Support of Groups: Dynamic Demands Support first time connections Organizationally established, group-wide media lay the “latent tie networks” Need to provide the technical and social means for initial contact Support growth of tie strength Need to provide social and technical interventions such as public and private means of communication, and opportunities for social and emotional interactions that build strong ties

Implications for Choices about Media Implementation: 

Implications for Choices about Media Implementation Organizational, administrative, governmental choices have greatest impact on weak tie networks Which medium is used across the group as a whole depends on what is organizationally mandated Choices about group-wide means of communication lay the groundwork for weak tie contact Which medium supports weak tie networks will vary according to local conditions Choices are both technical and social Interventions, mandates, support for use affect how much the new media changes, supports and serves the weak tie network

Implications for Wider Impacts: 

Implications for Wider Impacts Internet as groundwork for latent ties Provides easy way for groups to adopt peer-to-peer communication Weak ties emerge based on interest Activists, scholars, support groups, Usenet discussion groups, online courses and degree programs Weak ties can grow into stronger ties Online communities, community networks Adding new connections: face-to-face meetings, synchronous online meetings, private email added to public discussion

Implications for Wider Impacts: 

Implications for Wider Impacts Latent ties connections get appropriated Hijacked Viruses use your email lists to spread Borrowed/Mined Address lists used to create business contact networks Severed Viruses that bring down systems Job changes that lead to loss of network connection and contacts

Summary: 

Summary Ties Matter . . . Linear tie strength has non-linear effect on CMC-supported social networks Different media effects reconcile by considering the strength of tie between communicators Media Matter . . . Organizationally established and sanctioned media provide latent and weak tie connectivity, and a base on which ties can grow Changes will impact weak ties more than strong Impact of changes will depend *not* on what medium is added or removed, but on *what niche* the medium fills (e.g., public or private)

Summary: 

Summary Time and Timing Matter Ties grow over time, and their needs change over time Media use differs over time as ties grow or change Ties x Media Tiers of media support networks of different tie strengths Changes in media will have a more permanent effect of weak ties than strong ties

The End: 

The End Haythornthwaite, C. (2002). Strong, weak and latent ties and the impact of new media.The Information Society,18(5), 1-17. ___ (2003). Supporting distributed relationships: Social networks of relations and media use over time. Electronic Journal of Communication, 13(1). http://www.cios.org/getfile/haythorn_v13n1 ___ (2001). Exploring multiplexity: Social network structures in a computer-supported distance learning class. The Information Society, 17(3), 211-226. ____(2000). Online personal networks: Size, composition and media use among distance learners. New Media and Society, 2(2), 195-226. ____(2002). Building social networks via computer networks. In K.A. Renninger & W. Shumar, Building Virtual Communities (pp.159-190). Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ____ (forthcoming, 2005). Social networks and Internet connectivity effects. Information, Communication and Society. Haythornthwaite, C. & Hagar, C. (2004). The social worlds of the web. Annual Review of Information Science and Technology, 39, 311-346. Wellman, B. & Haythornthwaite (Eds.) (2002). The Internet in Everyday Life. Oxford UK: Blackwell.

Slide41: 

EXTRAS BEYOND HERE

Slide42: 

The Meeting Room Meet and Greet Down to Business After Hours

Slide43: 

The Meeting Room Meet and Greet Down to Business After Hours Meetings = a socio-technical means of connecting people. Meeting called by authority beyond meeting members. Authority establishes who will be there, the agenda, how interactions will proceed. Latent ties existing because of joint membership in the meeting are activated into weak ties by introductions, exchange of personal history. Weak ties grow stronger as people learn to work together, learning more about each other, sharing information, completing tasks. Strong ties are reinforced as weak, working ties are extended to include experiences outside work, in different settings, and more personal exchanges.

Slide44: 

The Online Chat Room Meet and Greet Down to Business After Hours Chat Room = a socio-technical means of connecting people. Chat technology and Chat room orientation established by authority beyond chat room participants. Authorities dictate who can join, what they will be allowed to post, how interactions will proceed. Latent ties existing because of joint presence in the chat room are activated into weak ties by introductions, exchange of personal history. Weak ties grow stronger as people learn to work or play together, learning more about each other, sharing information, completing tasks. Strong ties are reinforced as weak work or play ties are extended to include experiences offline, in different settings, and more personal exchanges.

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