Morgan's Notes on Rettberg, 2nd ed, Chap 3

This chapter is central to her text, this course, and a sophisticated understanding of what social media is, how it works, and where it stands.

isolate passages to illustrate and develop further with annotated links, examples, and images.

Two significant things to keep in mind

Significant thing 1

Blogging isn't about friends and family networks (closed networks) but about networks that center on information exchange. Social networks online are very unlike social networks off-line. We're more familiar with social networks, so thinking through distributed networks can be challenging.

To think this through, separate your close social groups of friends and family from groups that form and network by way of sharing information about the world. We, as a class, form a social group more centered on sharing ideas, trends, info rather than supporting classroom and community ties. Our twitter network and blogging network is larger than those in this class and those concerned with the class. It includes, for instance, Jill R. She is a weak tie for us; it is by following her that new information gets into the network. In a similar way, I'm a weak tie in relation to the group because I link you with other groups. And Singleton links us with fashion bloggers, etc. we are, however, an information network - not a social or familial one.

The thing to keep in mind is that your blogs and twitter are not primarily to support friendships. Or, in another phrasing, supporting friendship networks is another story.

Repeat that to yourself: It's not about making friends. It's about sharing information about the world.

Significant thing 2

The conception of audience and reader (sender / receiver) we typically use is based on a centralized network distribution. Social media, and blogging, exists in a distributed network. Power is differently distributed in online networks than in off-line networks. Again, we are so used to thinking of audience/reader relations under the model of centralized, mass network that it takes an effort to set some of those ideas aside.

Our stock ideas of what works in communication - how we think about producers and consumers - is heavily informed by models of communication created for centralized off-line networks. We have been taught to write to get attention from the start, that articles should be only so long; that we should use certain techniques to "keep the reader interested"; that we should write in a reverse pyramid to facilitate editing ... And we operate with the idea that we should emphasize the highest quality rather than the most recent. But these expectations and needs do not necessarily suit a distributed network interested in sharing information about the world rather than gaining numbers of readers, selling copies and advertising. Example: Observe almost any casual face to face discussion. It will not be structured by a thesis. Participants will not wrap up a point before going on to another. Participation is not equally distributed. What is brought into the conversation is not valued because it is concise but because it suits the moment. Like blogs, discussion favors the present tense even over the quality of the statement. Evaluation of social networks isn't a matter of numbers alone.

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