Boyd's Law of Social Network Sites

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by: danah boyd

::giggle:: While I was off the grid, Cory Doctorow created a law of social network sites and named it after me:

boyd’s law: "Adding more users to a social network [site] increases the probability that it will put you in an awkward social circumstance."

This comes from a brilliant column that he wrote for InformationWeek about how the Facebook communication technology (combined with their not-so-open platform strategy) resemble AOL’s old segregation/segmentation approach to users. (Remember the days when AOL users couldn’t email anyone who didn’t have an AOL account?) Embedded in this discussion is a concern for how social network sites are extremely socially awkward. My favorite quote: "It’s socially awkward to refuse to add someone to your friends list — but removing someone from your friend-list is practically a declaration of war. The least-awkward way to get back to a friends list with nothing but friends on it is to reboot: create a new identity on a new system."

Anyhow, I super appreciate the creation of "boyd’s law," especially because I think that it applies to both social networks and social network sites. (I have to imagine that many folks are having a field day thinking about who all should and shouldn’t be invited to holiday parties right about now.)

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