Tribes online

Why do people use online social networks? What do we get out of it and what prompts us to join certain communities?
As well as the inevitable Facebook I’m on Twitter, Linkedin and Flickr to name a few.
I like my friends being the click of a mouse away. I like to know what they’re up to (although I don’t need to know what kind of Superhero they are, thanks Facebook) and I like feeling a part of a wider network, of knowing via Twitter that there are people batting for me when I’m having a grim day at work.
Plus sites such as Digg are damn useful.
Now however, work has intruded on my little social network idyll. No, I’m not banned from using them – it’s worse than that: I have to research why we use them.
Yes, in a bid to try and give Liverpool Daily Post readers what they want, I’m now researching the phenomenon… the catch is that I have to fit this rather unwieldy subject around my working day and have a fully researched report ready to go by the end of the fortnight. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaargh.
Personally I think it’s all a bit tribal. We belong to something; we are a part of a network that transcends family and friends. I’ve had people I barely know try to link up with me via one network or another. It can also be a bit exclusive. Okay, I didn’t know Twitter existed until two months ago but now I do and I’m extremely supercilious with anyone who isn’t sending tweets yet.
So, there you have it: We’re all just smug Web 2.0 tribes, wasting time at work by networking with mates across the world.
Now I just have to stretch that to 3,000 words…
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About Alison Gow

I'm a journalist, particularly interested in story-telling, networks and digital innovation.
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