What are Social Networks?

Today’s web users are prolific creators of content, and they upload photographs, audio, and video to cloud-based social networks, such as Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, and many others by the billions. While the initial emphasis of social networks was placed on producing and uploading media to these popular sharing sites, as the notion of social media has evolved it has ultimately become more about the conversations started and relationships formed via this media. When users log in to Facebook and Twitter, two of the sites that have the most subscribers and daily traffic, they are there to see what their family, friends, and favorite brands and organizations are doing and who is talking about what. For educational institutions, social media enables two-way dialogues between students, prospective students, educators, and the institution that are less formal than with other media. New tools, such as Facebook’s social search engine, promise to mine these interactions using a concept known as the social graph. A person’s social graph represents the sum of all of a person’s online social connections (who he or she is friends with, who likes the things she or her friends are interested in, who among those connections is where, etc.) and provides a means to search and navigate those connections. Social graphs can be visualized in a variety of interesting ways, but far more interesting is the information embedded within the social graph and what it can tell us.

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(1) How might this technology be relevant to the educational sector you know best?

  • The connection between individuals and institutions is essential to the forward motion we keep talking about in the field.- Jenoleniczak Jenoleniczak Oct 30, 2014
  • A half-decade ago, museums were all climbing on Facebook. Has it gotten us anything at all? No one is even bothering to post here. What's up with that? I would really like to hear from other museum people about it. This seems like a huge fail, or else everyone—and that's us!—was deluded about the upside of social media for museums. I vote for the latter, but partly as a provocation. - weberj weberj Nov 3, 2014

(2) What themes are missing from the above description that you think are important?

  • None

(3) What do you see as the potential impact of this technology on education and interpretation in museums?

  • Aside from the sharing of information between individuals at museums, the idea of education outside of the present audience is important. Sharing, connection, as well as a presence in the social sphere is a trend in society, not just a trend within museum education.- Jenoleniczak Jenoleniczak Oct 30, 2014
  • Nevertheless positive effects of social networks on connecting individuals and groups were perceived, but how to attract youth with quality content still remain open. I see a museum as an important player for improving active participation of youth overwhelmed with useless information, which resulting in a reduced ability for critical reflection and apathy. Museums have the ability to fill the social media traffic with quality content and to evoke creative potential of teenagers and young adults. - kaja kaja Nov 1, 2014

(4) Do you have or know of a project working in this area?

  • NYCMer Tech group is doing a great job thinking about this.- Jenoleniczak Jenoleniczak Oct 30, 2014
  • ITweetMuseums - Jenoleniczak Jenoleniczak Oct 30, 2014

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