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Social networking – contacts or content?

The rise and rise of Twitter (a micro-blogging tool) has brought into sharp focus a division or shift in the social networking or web 2.0 landscape.

If web 2.0 can be categorised as online conversation, whether that be through the written word, images, video or a mix of the three, do we join these conversations based on who they’re with or what they’re about?

Contacts or content?

The difference is most notable when comparing a service such as Facebook and something like Twitter. Facebook replicates real world friendship and contact groups, whether professional or personal. Although some people gather ‘friends’ as those they’re life depended on it, the convention seems to be that I need to know you before I allow you to be my ‘friend’.

Conversely with Twitter, the friendship aspect is taken away. I can become a ‘follower’ of someone’s Twitter feed (the list of short comments or ‘tweets’ that are made and posted online). Becoming a follower of their feed does not make me their friend. It means that what they are saying is interesting and I would like to know what they have to say. It may be that I know this person in the real world and know that they are interesting, but there is much more opportunity to take the ‘contact’ aspect out of Twitter and keep your relations based on your interest in the conversation.

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