Building Relationships part 1

This is part of a series of post about building relationships online and the relationships we build online.

The initial idea was triggered by reading in one of the books for TECH 621 about marketable relationships. Marketable relationships were defined as relationships we build for the sake of the relationship, without expecting an immediate reward. However, the rewards, often in the form of employment, speaking engagements, etc., come as a result of having these connections. Nothing new here. This is how connections work.

I don’t particularly like the term “marketable relationships,” but luckily, the concept does go by another name: social capital.

Social capital was defined by Bourdieu as one of three types of capital:

  1. economic (financial resources)
  2. cultural (knowledge resources)
  3. social (connections, acquaintances, people we know who could do us favors)

Putnam (the one who wrote Bowling Alone) further broke down the concept of social capital into 2 sub-types: bonding and bridging capital.

  1. bonding capital = close relationships  among homogeneous groups (birds of a feather, your close group of friends, family, etc).
  2. bridging capital = loose connections with diverse people. It is out of these types of connections that most benefits and innovations emerge.

So, here are some hypotheses:

  • Many people use Facebook to maintain bonding capital
  • Many people use Twitter to build and maintain bridging capital

Are these the predominant uses of Facebook vs. Twitter? To how many people do these hypotheses apply? Do they apply to you? Are the trends changing towards Facebook becoming more open to loose connections and to building bridging capital? i.e. do you “friend” people you don’t know very well?

[update 10/25: Facebook’s new News Feed vs Live feed feature makes Facebook technology more conducive to maintaining bonding capital, because the algorithm selects the updates to show you in the News Feed based on the previous level of interaction -connection depth?- with that person.]

Next posts in this series:

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