I am speaking at the SWARM Online Community Management Conference, (13-14 September, Melbourne) pondering the possibility of moving from social media to social movements. The opportunity to think through these ideas has led to a more substantial draft paper, available below, which will hopefully develop further into a publication.
Put simply, I am trying to mashup three great scholars of the Internet, Barry Wellman, Nancy Baym and danah boyd, to come to grips with the relationship between online community, social networking and place. I end up with the notion that our current, most of the time, fascination with Facebook and similar networks is leading us to experience networked individualism (Wellman) in a self-interested network (somewhat like boyd’s egocentric networks) while we remain open to and engaged with the “collective individualism” (Baym). What is not quite clear to me, but hopefully I can solve in the final paper, is the question of place and how, through the person as portal (Wellman), the uses of the internet become emplaced and the virtual becomes displaced. I am also toying with the idea of the self-centered network, where ‘centre’ describes location, not just narcissistic self-attention. Probably trying to do too much, but I have had a lot of fun re-reading work that deserves to be explored again and again.