Social Networks

Entries related to social networks, group psychology, anthropology, and really any of the social sciences.

Why are you reading this blog entry?

Yes, I’m serious. Why are you reading this blog entry? Here on the blogs, we regularly get into discussions about why people blog. Yet we don’t often seem to talk about why we read other people’s blogs. Let’s take a little time to explore this.

Some of us spend time pouring over our access logs to try and figure out how people found the website. I’ve done a little checking into around half a million access records for my site. 97.5% of them don’t have any referrer records. So, a lot of the ways people find the site just aren’t showing up. Of the records that do show up, about 1% are from Google. And about half of a percent come from BlogExplosion. MyBlogLog comes in third as a source of readily identifiable sources.

Yet this leaves all kinds of questions. Within Google, it is easy to find the search terms that bring people to the site. “Smoking Jacket” and “Drupal Themes” are the two most popular search terms bringing people to my site. Why are these so popular? I suspect some of it is because there aren’t a lot of other things written about smoking jackets and drupal themes.

BlogExplosion is a pretty straight forward click exchange. They send people to Orient Lodge based on the number of sites that I visit through BlogExplosion. Most users just come to Orient Lodge randomly according to BlogExpolsion’s selection criteria.

MyBlogLog, BlogCatalog, and BumpZEE are more interesting. If you came here through one of them, how did you get here? Did you click on my link on a widget on someone else’s blog? Did you start off at their front page? Did you follow links from your community or friends? Did you arrive at my MyBlogLog page some other way? If you did click on my link on a widget, what made you click on my link instead of someone else’s link?

Apples not falling far from the tree

Will my daughter hate me for writing this? Will she be pleased? You never know with teenagers. However, I am hoping that she will be pleased. I’m pretty pleased with what she has written.

Mairead is working as a summer intern at Save the Children in their technology area. She has been ‘all marketing-coerced, and everything’ to put up a note on Facebook

to give all the stuck-up Seventy-Year-Old Muckity Mucks an idea of what they can do, as far as advertisements or recruiting or whatever, to get more people in the 18-25 type age bracket involved. Because, you know, we all have little siblings and stuff, we care about the child mortality rate too-- not just the thirty-year-old church-going mommies.

So if you are plugged into social media, stuff like Facebook, MySpace, text messaging on cellphones and all those things, and especially if you’re part of the 18-25 demographic, please stop by and take this survey. Tell all your friends. If we can get a lot of people to respond, Mairead says she’ll do a really awesome Happy Dance. It'll be better than the hamsters. Really”. If I’m lucky, I’ll get a video of it to put on YouTube.

And if you’ve got other ideas of how non-profits can reach out to the 18 to 25 demographic, add it as a comment, or send me an email. I’ll make sure Mairead gets it.

News of the Day

Slowly, surely, I’ve been making my way through the emails that have piled up. I’m currently at around 1450 unread emails. Some, I can delete quickly, others require responses or mention things that I’d like to talk about here on the blog. Currently, there are several topics that I’d like to explore in detail, but probably won’t get a chance to write about, so here are a few summaries.

Further explorations in the social media matrix

Yesterday, I spent a little more time surfing around blogs with tools like BlogExplosion, MyBlogLog and related sites.

I came up with a new graph of MyBlogLog connections. The style of observation has a great effect on the graph created, so let me take a few moments to talk about this graph.

MyBlogLog will be releasing an API at some point to allow better access to the underlying data. Because of this, I’ve hesitated to build some screen scrapers, but building graphs can be tedious, so I looked a little bit at the data that gets returned. I deconstructed some of the javascript and built a routine that retrieved data, stripped out the key data and threw it into a primitive database. At some point, I’ll come up with a better cleaner procedure. Since this is not using a clearly defined API, the data I’m getting back may have some inherent flaws in it.

Essentially, I retrieved the four most recent visitors to a MyBlogLog user, for each new user found, repeated the process. After I had gathered information on around 350 users, I consolidated the data. I kept only those users that had both incoming and outgoing links and had at least two links going one direction or the other. Even as is, this produced a pretty big graph. I will leave interpretations of the graph to the readers.

As I surfed around, I found that Goldy had written about a previous graph I had created and some of her thoughts about the blogging community she has found herself part of. There are some wonderful comments on that post talking about this sense of community.

I also visited Kevin Makice’s blog, BlogSchmog, where he asks, Where is the Informatics incubator? He notes the Techcrunch article about Yahoo! and Google both working on next generation social network tools.

Google has partnered with Carnegie Mellon to work on Socialstream. Yahoo! is working on mosh. There is some talk about how ‘mosh’ will relate to Yahoo! 360. What isn’t talked about is how MyBlogLog, a Yahoo! acquisition will relate.

What also isn’t talked about is how efforts to have an open social network, based on tools like XFN, FOAF and so on fit in. In many ways, Facebooks Apps seems to be moving us, slowly and surely towards open social networks. Already, there is a Facebook App for Upscoop which links together different closed social networks.

Yet much of this focuses on the technology of social networks and not the social aspects. Back in 2002, I tried to get a bunch of people thinking and talking about the social aspects of social networks. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of people on social networks at the time and I never found critical mass.

I set up a site called GroupMine. You can still find it on I put up some general thoughts and initial notes. They continue to percolate in the back of my mind.

One of my recent thoughts has been about the relationship between Group Relations theory, al a Wilfred Bion, Tavistock, the A.K. Rice Institute, and later work like Social Dreaming and Gordon Lawrence, and online social networks. This came back to me yesterday when I received a friendship request on Facebook from a person who wrote about having been to a social dreaming matrix with me at the White Institute in New York City back in 2002. It turns out that, according to Facebook, we have several friends in common.

Will my graphs of MyBlogLog interactions, together with reconnecting with old friends and old thoughts about the social side of social networks lead to something interesting? I sure hope so. Perhaps we need to explore what a social media matrix really means.

Random Stuff

Shortly, we will be heading off to Cape Cod for a few days. I don’t expect to be online during that time, so the blog won’t be updated, and most emails will probably go unanswered.

I dealing with the inspection for selling our house, I ended up climbing through some poison ivy, and I’m pretty miserable right now. Itching everywhere, unable to sleep. This, of course, means that Kim could sleep well either. It will be a difficult trip, but hopefully a little salt water will help out.

With the NOI campaigns, only the Burns campaign responded to my inquiries. Most, but not all of the campaigns list an email address somewhere to contact the campaign, and it appears as if most of those don’t bother to check their email. It seems to be a standard problem of many campaigns. The flood of emails can be overwhelming and many of them are spam or people wearing tin foil hats, but over the years, I’ve found some great volunteers and made some good friends as a result of responding to campaign emails. It gets to the idea of campaigns and emails really being a two-way conversation, and not just another broadcast medium.

On the graphing front, I have another graph of MyBlogLog interactions up on Flickr. It was during Wordless Wednesday and you can see the clear community grouping of Wordless Wednesday. It was also done early in the day and ends up showing a grouping of Malaysian bloggers.

Enough for now. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend.

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