Shirley Clay’s chapter 9 reading Dodgeball and Social Networking isn’t the most scholarly written work we’ve had, but it is one of the most informative. We all had a grey understanding of the dynamics of social networking and circles, but her words gave great elaboration to how they directly affect social incidents. In return, she makes “What a small world incidents” more like “What a small world of personal, social, and physical elements that increase the likelihood that we would know each other or the same people” incidents.
This is because these ‘small world’ incidents, such as meeting a person on a plane who turns out to be a friend of a friend, can really be stripped down to the relative reasons you two would know each other. Going to and coming from the same locations, working in careers that demand or allow you to travel, even sitting in seats of equal price range might increase the chances that you two are distantly connected. Even low connected people are bound to share a highly connected contact, such as all the acquaintances of Joi Ito, who then formed direct relationships through IRC channels.
Although social networking is a theory of communication which has existed as long as class systems, the difference today is the social networking tools which work to connect certain people or groups of people. Dodgeball for instance, designed for mobile phone use, bringing together people in the same place at the same time, sharing the same social contacts. There is also networks who bring together those with similar values or passions, like dogster for dog owners, or asmallworld, a social network for the socially networked.
There is one aspect of communication that networking increases which was overlooked in this chapter. This is what it does for those outside of social circles, who could share as many of the same characteristics or even stereotypes as those heavily involved in social circles share. Clay touched on this idea in Here Comes Everybody, when discussing weblogs (2008). “The most connected weblogs are thousands of times more connected than ordinary weblogs are, while ordinary weblogs, with a few readers, are far more likely to be part of a densely connected cluster”(Pg. 218).
On a personal note, I once hit it off with a girl in my class after we both discovered neither of us had facebook. We both felt comfortable knowing neither of us were dedicated to superficial social networking, and valued direct relationships and face to face communication. It’s important to remember that social networking doesn’t stop at the networks alone, or the tools we use. We all network one way or another.