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.
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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.


  • 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.


  • 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

  • ISSN 1886-5208