Wednesday, 5 December 2007

ego-centered and object-centered networks

Today I came across some great posts on a potential difference between ego-centric and object-centric networks.
A post by Fred Stutzman;
One by Michele Martin;
And one by Uno de Waal.
I will add the ‘trust’ factor into this equation (see below).

cartoon from

Cartoon by Dave Walker. Find more cartoons you can freely re-use on your blog at We Blog Cartoons.

Some questions were raised as to what will be the next big thing after the users of ego-centric networks have gotten bored of the ‘hi, I am into…’? There is indeed a significant difference between these networks, because network size does not trump network relevance as Fred suggests. If I want to learn or reflect on my professional knowledge relevance is of the essence. The rest can be changed around according to the needs. Uno de Waal found a possible niche that is still out there, next to Facebook. He suggests an application that is more object/content centered and as thus be more relevant to the users than mere Facebook ‘I am a friend/colleague….’ approach. I digg his idea and conclusion.

The idea that also jumped into my minds eye was this idea of Fred Stutzman:
“However, this 1-2 year lead time will give mobile devices significant time to improve; the iPhone and iPhone clones will be in the hands of hundreds of millions of youth, priming the market for the next phase transition.”
This is a visionary leap, but it might just be right on the money! At least my gut felt right when reading this.

My additional thought is this: what about trust. Online communities are deprived from non-verbal movements that in so many cases make up a lot of the factors that will get you to either trust or distrust someone. There is a certain amount of digital control to the people that are adding to any network, but still trust is essential. Trust gets even more crucial if users would shift from their ego-centered networks towards object-centered networks. In an article I recently read, they concluded that trust level of users relies on the separate social networks that they are members of. This than puts the importance on the ego-centered networks as a means to be trusted as an individual. A strong digital identity comes into the trust as well. Reference article.

So making sure your ego-centered networks look like they are strong, gives you a stronger basis for being seen as a trustworthy person, even if your main networks are object-centered ones.