David Stuart

Web Analyst and Consultant

Social Network Sites – The strength of the weakest of ties

Posted on | August 2, 2010 | 1 Comment

As Granovetter explained in his 1973 article, The Strength of Weak Ties, our weak ties (i.e., our network of acquaintances rather than friends) play an especially important role in the diffusion of information because are acquaintances are more likely to possess new perspectives and knowledge, whereas our friends are more likely to share much of the same knowledge. What I find amazing about social network sites is how weak the ties can now be, and how difficult my own job would be without them.

Much of my working life is spent as a writer- writing about various web technologies and their use in libraries – and for this I need two things: to be commissioned to write, and to have content to write. In the last few weeks social network sites have helped with both aspects.

Twitter Serendipity – I was following a publisher on Twitter who put a call out for freelancers. Whilst I had exchanged emails with the publisher before, the tie would have been too weak for them to have thought to contact me directly.

LinkedIn Mining – Writing an article on the use of social networking sites in libraries I needed to get the perspective of a librarian in a commercial environment; unfortunately I didn’t know any. Luckily I knew a man who I thought would – my undergrad supervisor who has been churning out librarians for decades – whereas I wouldn’t have necessarily emailed to ask him for names, I was happy to make use of his open network.

Without Twitter I would never have got one piece of work (and hopefully more in the future), and without LinkedIn another piece would have taken much longer to complete. It’s amazing to think how many organizations continue to prevent workers accessing social network sites, and the opportunities that they are missing.

Comments

One Response to “Social Network Sites – The strength of the weakest of ties”

  1. Kim
    November 2nd, 2010 @ 10:57 am

    Someone has said that “social media increases the surface area of serendipity”, which I find very true and also very fitting for your blog entry.

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Why a Blog?

This blog is for letting people know some of the things I am working on, although it is extremely infrequent. As my writing has expanded from blog posts to professional journal articles, and finally to books, the number of blog posts I write on my various blogs has inevitably tapered off.

Why blog? For me it turned out to be the first step on the road to a book deal!

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