Getting to Know You Online; in This Age of near Paranoid Concern about Privacy, Why Are Internet Users Sharing Increasingly Intimate Details of Their Life and Work with Absolute Strangers?

By Conhaim, Wallys W. | Information Today, July-August 2005 | Go to article overview

Getting to Know You Online; in This Age of near Paranoid Concern about Privacy, Why Are Internet Users Sharing Increasingly Intimate Details of Their Life and Work with Absolute Strangers?


Conhaim, Wallys W., Information Today


[Editor's Note: This is the first of a two-part series. Look for Part 2 next issue.]

If you've already dismissed the online social networking boom as a phenomenon for the "party" crowd, you might want to consider taking another look. This is a trend with solid implications for just about all of us--anyone who does research, markets products, wants to work more effectively, is seeking like-minded individuals, wants exposure to diverse ideas, is looking to build a professional network, or is job hunting.

What Are Social Networks?

So what exactly are online social networks? They're relatively new kinds of virtual communities that are structured to delineate and build on the relationship that members have with each other.

Each of these networks differ from one another in several ways:

* Purpose: Some clearly focus on advancing business or professional connections; others foster social or family relationships.

* Focus: Each online network has a distinct identity based on what its members share (e.g., bookmarks, music, photos, or contact information).

* Tools: Social networks integrate tools that may make them more useful to their communities, such as referral protocols and ways to search and index information.

The Social Software Weblog, which provides a meta-list (http://socialsoftware.weblogsinc.com/sns-meta-list) of links to 380 social networking sites, has developed a taxonomy for the following major categories: business networking, common interest, dating, face-to-face meeting facilitation, friend networking, and MoSoSo (mobile social software).

Social software has the unique distinction of being able to classify Web-based information and to aggregate people who share common interests. So its emphasis is on people, not data. Some sites feature software for mapping special relationships among their members. Others have software to find people or content using identifying categories or "tags." (These community-building tools surpass those in blogging software.)

The networks are useful beyond their primary purpose too. Online members also use them as filters for what to do, read, and listen to or whom to meet. Their networks help them clarify their own interests and learn more about themselves, which ultimately fascinates most users. But there is no magic bullet. Just as in real life, you have to "work" a network to get it to work well for you.

Protecting Boundaries

What about protecting your privacy? Privacy protection is actually built into some services. For example, membership in Google's orkut is by invitation only. Likewise, LinkedIn, a business-oriented network, requires an introduction from a mutual friend before a member may contact someone outside his or her personal network.

Privacy, however, is still an issue. Data gathered by such systems could be combined with that gathered by marketing, financial, or search sites to paint a clearer picture of a person's interests and behavior.

Spam is also a threat. Web posts are quick to point out that there's a fine line between receiving a coveted invitation to join a network or be a "friend" and getting a deluge of invites and requests for referrals.

There's even a move now to establish a "10 Commandments" or "Bill of Rights" for social networking. Some systems already post the TRUSTe approval logo on their sites, and some allow users to earn trust ratings a la eBay.

Tracing the Roots

Internet social networking is between 2 years and 3 decades old, depending on your definition of the term. The trend is believed to have started with the launch of full-featured, research-oriented, computer-mediated communications systems on the Internet, such as EIES (Electronic Information Exchange System), which was pioneered by Murray Turoff at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in the mid-1970s.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Getting to Know You Online; in This Age of near Paranoid Concern about Privacy, Why Are Internet Users Sharing Increasingly Intimate Details of Their Life and Work with Absolute Strangers?
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.