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Via danah boyd's tweet here, found this draft thesis (PDF) by researcher Chris Peterson titled Saving Face: The Privacy Architecture of Facebook.

It's all pretty spot-on, but of particular note to me so far, as it confirms some of my conjectures in this earlier post about the cultural differences between Facebook and Twitter, has been the section called "The Social Practices of Facebook." Writes Peterson:

Perhaps the most interesting (and potentially counterintuitive) fact about Facebook is that it is not a social networking site, but rather a social network site. In other words, Facebook is not about meeting new people but rather friending people whom one already knows. It is less like a Yellowpages than a Rolodex; less like a cocktail party than an evening in with friends; less like JigSaw and more like an AIM buddy list. Mayer and Puller found that only 0.4% of Facebook friendships consisted of “online only” interactions. danah boyd concurred, describing social network sites as malls for modern teens: spaces to socialize, “hang out,” to see and be seen, etc. The average number of Friends any given user has is 120, remarkably close to the famous Dunbar number in anthropology and sociology.

The implication of the “real relationships” phenomenon is that all Facebook interactions are animated and governed by preexisting social norms, roles, and expectations.


3:02 pm, June 30, 2009 :: facebook

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