Mar 8, 2010 Comments Off
I found this week’s readings to be very interesting and really introduced a couple concepts and ideas that I had never really thought about, such as major corporations developing their own SNS pages and social capital being able to be categorized into two different types.
In “Bowling Online,” I was very surprised to learn that major corporations had their own SNS sites. When I think of IBM, I think of strictly business, so when I learned of the company’s incorporation of Beehive, I thought it would only be for business connections. While many of the 50,000 (~15% of the company) users did in fact use it in that regard, there was also personal information shared and posted on Beehive (246). A survey showed that most of the users of Beehive were employees who were “social browsing” (246). I wonder if these Beehive profiles then are considered private or public information to the company and its management. If IBM employees wrote something negative on their profile, could they get fired, just like what happens with Facebook? I feel as though there are always risks with these sites, especially ones focused on one particular group or company. However, as the study concludes, “SNS can potentially play an important role in helping employees maintain and develop connections within the company” (253). So do the benefits outweigh the possible turmoi? That is the question…
This reading also talked about the two types of social capital – Bridging and Bonding. Bridging social capital refers to the weak relationships that are there to provide “new information and diverse prospectives” (246). Bonding social capital refers to the very close relationships – gains of emotional support and financial loans are examples (246). These two types of social capital relate well to the “Benefits of Facebook ‘Friends’” reading. This study showed that Facebook and social capital, especially bridging social capital, are very much connected. I am not surprised by this result because that is exactly how I feel on Facebook. There are only a handful of people that I am “friends” with on Facebook that I would consider in the accumulation of bonding social capital. Most of the people I don’t really talk to unless I have a question and I know they are very good with that material or I need a completely different opinion on something. These are both aspects of bridging social capitals. Also, I feel that most of bonding social capital comes in person or on the phone. I feel if something is that important, that request for support or help is asked in person or by voice in a phone call.
Overall, I feel as though Social Networking Sites do help to accumulate and maintain social capital, but as the studies show, mostly of the bridging social capital variety. Connections are very important, whether you are close to the person or not! You never know when that expert in a random topic that you just happen to know through a friend of a friend can help you. This shows that there is very high opportunity to benefit from connections into a SNS.