Social networking sites: a window to the community

By Ismael Peña-López
ICTlogy (ISSN 1886-5208). Issue #80, May 2010

 

On May 17th, 2010, I was invited by the Xarxa Ã’mnia, a Spanish telecentre network, to impart a conference within the events of the Safer Internet Day.

That was certainly a difficult speech, likely one of the most difficult ones, as the audience was quite Internet-savvy — they’ve been attending and/or organizing activities in the telecentre for years — and, on the other hand, not eager to listen to reality-distant theories.

Thus, I came in with the sole idea of reassuring and bringing some confidence to people that are increasingly using the Internet while still fighting against their — most of the times well founded — reluctances. In this train of though, my points were:

  • The Internet is not a geek thing;
  • being online will not disconnect you from other people but, on the contrary, will extend your social network;
  • there is not an Internet or a social networking site, but plenty of them, depending on how you use and combine the zillion useful applications that are out there for you to benefit from them.
If you cannot see the slides please visit <a href="http://ictlogy.net/?p=3381">http://ictlogy.net/?p=3381</a>

 

I made up an “Aunt Marjorie” and explained how she spends a simple day: wakes up and reads the papers, goes to the bank, to the doctor’s, etc. Most examples are framed in Spanish, but can easily be extrapolated to many other contexts.

Pros:

  • Multiple and plural sources of information;
  • e-commerce and e-banking;
  • e-administration;
  • and e-health;
  • online communities of interest;
  • e-learning;
  • specialized or vertical social networking sites;
  • when online extends to offline, and the online extension of traditional communites;
  • e-participation, e-democracy;
  • cyberactivism;
  • multipurpose, horizontal, leisure or personal social networking sites.

Cons:

  • Information overload;
  • echo chambers;
  • new media literacies;
  • phishing, pharming and other similar types of cybercrime;
  • new information literacies;
  • privacy;
  • security;
  • identity.

I want to very sincerely thank Elvira Mora and Fadwa El Harrak for their kind invitation and confidence :)

See also

For a very good summary in Catalan: Peña defensa les possibilitats d’internet i adverteix dels seus riscos.

If you need to cite this article in a formal way (i.e. for bibliographical purposes) I dare suggest:

Peña-López, I. (2010) “Social networking sites: a window to the community” In ICTlogy, #80, May 2010. Barcelona: ICTlogy.
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ICTlogy Review

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About Me

    I am Ismael Peña-López.

    I am professor at the School of Law and Political Science of the Open University of Catalonia, and researcher at the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute and the eLearn Center of that university. I am also the director of the Open Innovation project at Fundació Jaume Bofill.