I came to Classroom 2.0 without any idea about how things really worked. Even though I've been on Linked In for a while and I sort of knew about the whole friends thing on MySpace, I hadn't experienced it myself.

What I've seen people post so far is that it's a tool to gain visibility, a competition for attention and/or a way to deal with larger crowds. (sorry I don't have the energy to link to these ideas or properly credit them!)

However, none of those things really applies to us. We aren't struggling bands or lonely singles or job hunters. We don't need a list of names to make us feel better about ourselves and we don't have too many people to strain the feeling of community (yet).

So maybe friends won't mean anything to this community. If that's true, it will simply cease to be of interest.

That's not to say that there may be friend features that can be added that create value for the people who are here. So I think the conversation about features is interesting, especially if we can figure out what this specific group of people needs, rather than what we've seen in other places or what can be done technology-wise.

Being a naturally lazy person, leveraging off other's people work is always good. One thing I've found out is that it's got a name, "Friending" and there are "established Friending norms" - who knew? Here's a cool article about this on First Monday, Friends, friendsters, and top 8: Writing community into being on so...


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Comment by nlowell on April 9, 2007 at 6:14am
Excellent article. danah boyd is one of the real pioneers in this field.

I'm curious as to what all the discussion about "what are friends?" and "what are friends for?" here, though. If it's simply a feature thing, then why aren't we having the same kind of discussion on the subject that Barbara brought up -- the distinction between forums and blogs? Or why/how does the side bar panel work that shows posts outside of Ning?

I have to be honest and admit that *none* of the questions about friends that people have raised have crossed my mind. This is a really interesting issue. Why the interest in "friends"?
Comment by Jeff Branzburg on April 9, 2007 at 7:46am
my interest in posting about 'friends' was simply to understand the feature - what is it, what does it do, etc. nothing more, nothing less.
Comment by Sylvia Martinez on April 9, 2007 at 9:39am
I agree, and I think the reason it keeps coming up is that it's a unique thing about social networking and that's what we are here to figure out.

On the other hand, it just may be that in conversations like these (blogs, groups, listerves) one topic tends to be picked up and discussed at a time.

I posted a question about chatterwalls in a post about something else, and no one has responded. Is it that no one cares, it's not important, or simply that it wasn't the one thing that got discussed.
Comment by nlowell on April 9, 2007 at 9:53am
I found this when I actually *looked* at the blog posting screen:

Who can view this post?
Everyone Just My Friends Just Me

So it seems like there's at least SOME utility to being a friend.
Comment by nlowell on April 9, 2007 at 9:55am
The chatterwall is a kind of public acknowledgement. They come from the Facebook/MySpace features where people post you a note that other people can see.

Now *why* you'd want that -- or want to do it -- perhaps just to "leave a mark." Dunno.


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