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University Web Developers

What is required for a social network, when you remove the buzzwords?

Basically the only aspects that differentiate a social network from a more traditional community (forums, message boards etc) are Profile pages and Friends.

Is this distillation correct?

And if it is, are profile pages and friends really necessary for the uwebd community? Because I have seen a lot of quite successful online communities that did not have either.

In fact, a little off topic, but a social network actually hurts community, instead of helping it, because it is a crutch. If you need a computer to help you remember who your friends are, then are they really your friends?

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In addition to profile pages and friends, social networks also provide the ability to create groups and provides many more features and functionality than a message board.

As to the value of a social network, one of many arguments is the value of weak ties. For more info see:

http://del.icio.us/markgr/weakties
I'd go way further than that. Social implies user generated content, be it comments, tags, categories, full out articles, pictures, whatever the case may be. It is a question of interaction with the site and with each other.
"Social implies user generated content"

Is this another instance of where web 2.0 lingo has nothing to do with real words?
I'm not exactly sure what you mean by that. Personally, I actually hate the phrase Web 2.0. A lot. Because as far as I am concerned, it doesn't really mean anything. But the word "social" does. If all that a site has is user profiles and friend linking, that's more of a Rolodex than a social network.

If go to a social (the party kind), you don't just walk around with a handful of facts about yourself and waving at friends. You walk around, you dance, you take part in activities, you do things to meet new people and such.
Well . . . I understand that perspective.

OTOH, I have found that in Facebook, I can keep track of things that my "friends" do that I would never, ever, otherwise know of. For example, Richard Katz of EDUCAUSE recently reviewed a book using a widget in Facebook and it sounds like one I would be interested in. I consider Richard a friend, but only see him once every couple of years. I now know that we have similar reading interests and have shared books with him.

Also, I know that a number of my acquaintances who are largely virtual or whom I rarely see F2F have visited China, from another Facebook widget, and I am using them as resources for the trip I am planning there in March.

It's letting me stay closer with people who might otherwise fade out of sight. I really like that.
Terry - this is a perfect example of the value of weak ties.

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