Friending—the mutually acknowledged linking of profi les within or across defi ned communities—is the cornerstone of collaborative social interaction. Just as in real life, the various relationships that exist between profile les (people) often imply certain aspects of both the nature of the expected interactions and the context for them. Relationships at a club or church are different in context—and therefore in expectation —from relationships in a workplace, for example:
When someone elects to follow another on Twitter, or inside an employee network built on a platform like Social Text, there is likewise an expectation of value received in exchange for the follower relationship, all within the context of the network in which this relationship has been established. People create relationships to exchange value, at some level, with the others in and through that relationship.
Compared with a website
Where navigating a self-service library of content is a typical interaction path—the extension of a link between profile les and the formation of a relationship between the people they represent is a fundamental requirement for value exchange between community members. Without these links, people can post content, rate submissions, and similar—but to what end?
YouTube is a great example of exactly this sort of content creation and sharing. The result is a highly trafficked site and lots of buzz, but the “social interaction” still occurs for the most part at the individual, content-consumption level rather than as truly shared or collaborative experiences. Compared with Facebook, for example, YouTube participants share and consume content in a decidedly less social manner:
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The interaction on YouTube revolves around a sharing or referral of content that each may feel the other will find interesting. Compare this to Facebook, where the majority of sharing involves thoughts, ideas, and conversations and occurs between members that have a true (albeit virtual in many cases) friendship link in place.
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