Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Creating a Presence on Social Networks Via Narbs

Academic journal article Global Media Journal

Creating a Presence on Social Networks Via Narbs

Article excerpt

Abstract

There has been an exponential growth in the number of people who use digital social networking tools to stay connected with friends and family. The connections are built and sustained through numerous digital "posts" that include simple "status updates" to elaborate videos and pictures that are made available through these tools. This paper argues that every such digital imprint is indeed a small narrative bit (narb) that tells a tiny story about an individual. Here a systematic approach is provided to categorize the narbs and explore the implications of creating a digital presence through numerous narbs distributed in different parts of the Internet.

Creating a presence on social networks via narbs

The early days of networked computers allowed for the exploration of systems that would allow people to connect to each other using the computer as the portal to join networks where the members would share some common interest. The development of the PLATO system at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in the 1960s and 1970s offered the preliminary opportunities to experiment with creating networks of computers where the individuals sitting before the computer would become the social network although such networks defied some of the basic assumptions of creating a community such as spatial proximity. Yet these people would have claimed to be a part of a community by virtue of the fact that they were able to share their thoughts via the discourses they created on their computer keyboard and transmitted instantly to everyone else on the network (Mitra, 2010). This capability of connecting discursively with others remains the bedrock on which most virtual communities are still built.

The transformation from the virtual communities based around text-intensive discussion boards to the social network sites was made possible by two major developments in the technological sphere - availability of powerful digital machines, and the wide-spread penetration of high-speed data connections. The first component of the change refers to the proliferation of digital tools, from computers to smart cell phones that have become commonplace in the late 2000s with instruments like the iPhone being highly penetrated in many communities. The second component of the change refers to the way in which the digital tools are able to connect to central repository of data files which can store extremely large amounts of data that can be rapidly transmitted from a centralized location to a digital tool. This has been possible with the high-speed Internet connections and through systems that allow for high speed data connections with cell phones. What is important to note is that these are primarily technological changes but do not refer to any fundamental shifts in the way in which people would want to interact with each other. The people who might have been members of virtual communities could now use the social networking tools to create more technologically efficient connections with other people. However, this essay shows how these technological changes create a new set of opportunities for creating a sense of the self in virtual communities and the way in which the personal digital presence influences the relationships produced on social networks.

The shift to the new technologies for creating communities became noticeable around 2005 when users discovered sites such as MySpace and Facebook that quickly came to be known as social network sites (SNS) and users migrated from their existing virtual communities to the SNS forums because these offered a greater degree of technological sophistication in terms of the way in which the users to interact with other members of the SNS. As pointed out in the articles in the special theme section of the Journal of Computer Mediated Communication compiled by boyd and Ellison (2007) there were numerous SNS forums that came and went in the latter 1990s and the early 2000s, with different SNS providing different kinds of functionality and attracting different levels of following among users. …

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