Screenshot from Vicky Davis, Cool Cat Teacher Blog
I've been working an article for TechSoup about effective social networking tips. I decided to carry out my research on Facebook. First, I did a series of "focus groups" by messaging small groups of 6-8 people in my network and asking a couple of questions. I asked 100 people and got about 60% response rate.
Next, I read through all those responses and did a pattern analysis ... and there were roughly seven themes.
(hmm .. the Seven Habits of Highly Effective Nonprofit SocNetworkers?) For each theme, I wrote a summary and identified additional questions. I put those write ups as notes and tagged people in Facebook. (I also posted some here just to see the response) and I twittered it. This generated some more insights, but more questions.
On the whole question of friending and friend policies, Vicky Davis and Judy O'Connell gave me the educator's perspective.
Vicky left a comment on Facebook:
I just wonder this, Beth. In school we tell everyone, "Never add a friend of a friend, only add people you know." and many of us are building our network in this way. Aren't kids who add friends of a friend learning valuable networking skills? It is important to remember this, but also that we are creating a vast disconnect between what we tell students and what is going to make them successful in the future!
In one of the places, I had mentioned having a friend policy and mentioned how some well-known bloggers handle it. "It is probably a good idea to set a friend policy. The goal is not necessarily to collect the largest number of friends, but to build relationships. But there are different approaches. Well known blogger and social media guru, Robert Scoble adds all friends. Shel Israel prefers to establish a connection first." (BTW, a huge big hat tip to Connie Reece who pointed me to the notes from her session on social networking at Blog Orlando.)
So, Vicky went over to friend Scoble and got the above error message. That's making me think about
the Wall Journal article a few weeks back - "Is there a numerical cap on how many friends we can have?" The article refers to the Dunbar number - 150 - the ceiling on the number of personal contacts a human has the capacity to maintain. The article says that new research suggests that social networking sites will help humans surpass this limit. Last word from Prof. Dunbar: .."isn't sold on the idea that social networks make his number outdated. The research, he says, "made us realize people don't know what these wretched things called relationships are -- and that helps explain why we're so bad at them."
Vicky goes onto say:
EAAAEW A Rat!
Educators need to stop jumping up on top of their chair and pulling up their pants leg like a mouse ran through the meeting every time someone talks about social networks!
Be sure to read the comments, Vicky even got a comment by Scoble himself.
I also got poked by another Hey Jude who also left a thoughtful comment building on Vicky's points. She went to blog about our exchange:
So here we had just one of our many dilemmas in education being effectively highlighted and discussed, right in a social networking space, accessible only amongst ‘friends’.
I'm also thinking about two of Chris Brogan's recent posts "Three Untapped Values of Social Networks" and Human Information Nodes and Routing and somehow makes me wonder about a student research project using socnet to do the research.
More to ponder here.