Social networking

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Social networking is the practice of expanding the number of one's business and/or social contacts by making connections through individuals. (

In educational technology, social networking refers to the professional or education/pedagogical use of social networking software.

One may distinguish two basic genres

  • Social linking platforms that mostly just promote links between entries describing persons (profiles). A well known platform for professionals is LinkedIn in an earlier version. However, since the success of both Facebook and Google applications like blogger, most such platforms increasingly pile up features.
  • Social network sites: Platforms that let people create media-rich webpages and manage "friends" on the same platform and that can have various access to contents. The best known example is probably Facebook and pioneers were Frienster and MySpace. A variant of these are platforms to create networks, e.g Ning.

Social network sites

According to Danah Boyd, social network sites can be defined through three features: profiles, friends and comments.

Social capital

According to Lampe & Ellison (2012: “Social capital is a measure of the benefits people derive from having and maintaining relationships with others”. The authors adopt Putnam's(2000) distinction between two types of social capital: bonding and bridging:

“Bonding social capital refers to the benefits we get from close friends— those with whom we interact often and who consequently are often very similar to us—such as favors and emotional support, as well as broader effects like the ability to organize col- lective action. Bridging social capital, on the other hand, is associated with the benefits we get from our weaker network ties, who are generally less similar to us. These interactions are valuable sources of novel information, expanded worldviews, and a sense of general community connection.” (Lampe & Ellison, 2012: 98)


  • FOAF, a RDF standard for linking people (for which various applications exist)
  • API standards to script platforms like Facebook and Ning (more details needed plus links to other web 2.0 standards)

Examples of social networking platforms

For software to build your own, see the social software article

Examples of linking platforms

Examples of platforms to promote various exchange

  • Facebook (not just homepages for the idle, it does have some interesting features and networks, including an API)
  • youfig

Examples of mashups built on top

One of the problems with social networking is that your friends or yourself are present on different platforms. One way to keep in touch is to use a mashup application that integrates elements (e.g. the latest messages).

  • Quote" See everything that's going on with your friends in all the sites you use ..."
  • Seesmic (allows to post message to many other different social networks) ... noise multiplier :)
  • unype is a location-based social application platform. It interfaces persons connected to various social software (facebook, Ning, twitter, etc.) via google earch in a chat. See the untype blog for details.

Institutions and people

  • (shows researchers around the world in a 'tree' format, organized according to which institution/department they are affiliated with. Also shows interests and you can upload papers).

In education

(needs to be written)

See also:


Services that allow creation of your own network

(social network hosting)

  • Ning. Used to be the do-it-yourself service, commercial only since spring 2010.
  • mixxt. Ning-like social networking creator. The free version has advertising and includes a good list of tools. It enables to make groups within a network. Currently (2016), mixxt is being replaced by tixxt (German only, English coming soon).
  • (as of Jan 2011: doesn't work on FF 3.6/Ubuntu, spends time loading a flash animation)
  • Free tool for creating custom social networks. Software is based on Oxwall portalware
  • webs. Website building tool with templates. Includes social tools (blog, forum and profile pages)
  • Amazee. (Dead) swiss social platform, was based on Drupal
  • BigTent. A group organization tool, i.e. only members can access your site)
  • Igloo Software. Quote: "Social software solutions for businesses of any size". Free version available
  • Grouply "Looking for a free Ning alternative?"
  • Yooco. A free version with many features and possibilities of customization.
  • SocialGo. Free version with ads and limited features.
  • Spruz Ning-like social networking creator. The free version has less features, e.g. no video upload (but one may insert you tube videos). Also read How is Spruz Freemium Sustainable?.
  • Services like LinkedIn or Facebook (to some extent only)
Special purpose for education
  • Scholar, by University of Illinois College of Education and Common Ground Publishing
Software to create your own server


  • Social Network Reviews : Good overview, many reviews and comparisons of different social network platforms and their features and latest news too.

Bibliography and references

(missing a lot ...)

  • Buchem, Ilona, Wolfgang Reinhardt, Timo van Treeck, Moshe Leiba, Alexander Perl (2012). Designing and Developing Mobile Learning Applications in International Student Teams, eLearning Papers 32 ISSN: 1887-1542 • 32, HTML
  • Charman-Anderson, Suw (2010). Making the Connection: The use of social technologies in civil society. Commission of Inquiry into the Future of Civil Society in the UK and Ireland/Carnegie UK trust. Abstract/download
  • Lampe, C., Wohn, D. Y., Vitak, J., Ellison, N., & Wash, R. (2011). Student use of Facebook for organizing collaborative classroom activities. International Journal of Computer-Supported Collaborative Learning, 6, 329-347. doi:0.1007/s11412-011-9115-y
  • Lampe, C.; Ellison, N. (2012). Understanding Facebook: Social Computing Isn't Just Social, Computer, Volume: 45 , Issue: 9, 98-100 DOI: 10.1109/MC.2012.324
  • Lampe, C., Vitak, J., Gray, R., & Ellison, N. (in press). Perceptions of Facebook’s value as an information source. In Proceedings of the 2012 Annual Conference on Human Factors in Computing Systems. New York: ACM. PDF
  • Liccardi, I., Ounnas, A., Pau, R., Massey, E., Kinnunen, P., Lewthwaite, S., Midy, M., and Sarkar, C. 2007. The role of social networks in students' learning experiences. SIGCSE Bull. 39, 4 (Dec. 2007), 224-237. DOI=
  • Pei-Luen Patrick Rau, Qin Gao, Yinan Ding (in press), Relationship between the level of intimacy and lurking in online social network services, Computers in Human BehaviorIn Press,
  • Putnam, Robert (2000). Bowling Alone: The Collapse and Revival of American Community, Simon & Schuster, 2000.
  • Shirky, Clay (2008). Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Penguin Press, ISBN 1594201536
  • Shirky, Clay (2009). Here Comes Everybody: How Change Happens when People Come Together, ISBN 0141030623
  • Shirky, Clay (2010). Cognitive Surplus: Creativity and Generosity in a Connected Age. ISBN 1846142172
  • Tong, S., Vitak, J., & LaRose, R. (2010, June). Truly problematic or merely habitual? An integrated model of the negative consequences of social networking. Paper presented at the 60th Annual Conference of the International Communication Association, Singapore.
  • Wohn, D. Y., Lampe, C., Vitak, J., & Ellison, N. (2011). Coordinating the ordinary: Social information uses of Facebook by adults. In Proceedings of the 6th Annual iConference. New York: ACM. Download (.pdf)
  • Wohn, D. Y., Lampe, C., Ellison, N., Wash, R., & Vitak, J. (2011). The “S” in social network games: Initiating, maintaining, and enhancing relationships. In Proceedings of the 44th Annual Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences (CD-ROM). Computer Society Press. PDF