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Social Network Sites as THE Communication Tool

By: Hannah Gölz

Face-to-face communication is more and more substituted by other forms of communication – especially in the younger generation

In general, one has to distinguish between two forms of communication: face-to-face and other types of communication. Face to face communication sometimes is also referred to as personal communication and describes the situation where two or more people are communicating face to face. This form of communication has quite a few advantages: First of all, also non-verbal cues can be decoded by the communication partner which enhances the richness of the communication process and decreases the probability of misunderstandings. Secondly, face-to-face communication is taking place synchronously. Hence, feedback, no matter if this is a comment, answer or question, is immediately possible without any time lack. Other types of communication include communication via telephone, letters, E-Mail or texting. Obviously, these types of communication have different drawbacks in comparison to face-to-face communication, such as missing nonverbal cues, lack of presence and existing of asynchrony. Nevertheless, these ways of communication also provide a lot of advantages: Time differences can easily be overcome and fast and cheap communication all over the world is possible. Possibly, this is also one reason why in the last couple of years those forms of communication have become so popular. Web 2.0 provides many ways for communicating in another mode than face-to-face communication: Some examples of Web 2.0 applications are video and picture sharing platforms such as Youtube.com or Flickr, Wikis such as Wikipedia or Social Network Sites. Youtube.com, which exists since 2005, is the worldwide biggest video platform. In May 2012 users uploaded 72 hours of material every minute (forbes.com 2012)!

Social Network Sites (SNS) have incredibly increased their popularity in the last couple of years. Social Network Sites are „web-based services that allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users 19 with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system” (Boyd 2007: n. p.). International Social Network Sites (SNS) are for instance Facebook or Friendster, but there are also SNSs which are used mainly in one country (for example StudiVZ in Germany, Vkontakt in Russia or renren in Asia). In year 2010 47% of online adults have used Social Networking Sites and 73% of teens and young adults have been a member of at least one social network (graphicsms.com 2010). Facebook has had 901 million monthly and 526 million daily active users by the end of March in this year (Facebook 2012). These statistics underline the role of SNSs in everyday life of people all over the world. In Germany for example, students no longer communicate via E-Mail. Instead, they are initiating Facebook-groups for every project or group work, which are used for project management and as communication and information platform. Researches in the field of communication are analyzing a lot of different aspects in this new field: Some are engaging in analyzing advantages and disadvantages of the new forms of communication which are possible via those platforms. Others are thinking about privacy aspects – some users disclose lots of information about their person (socio-demographics, pictures, likes/dislikes) while others don’t do so. And another interesting aspect is to think about why people and maybe especially youths are members of Social Network Sites. As Social Network Sites are a rather new phenomenon, there are a lot of aspects which still have to be taken into consideration and there is still no definite answer about why and how users participate in those platforms and with what consequences.

 

Sources:

BOYD, D. M. (2007). Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. Received from http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html.

Facebook (2012). Newsroom. Received from http://newsroom.fb.com/content/default.aspx?NewsAreaId=22

Forbes.com (2012). Received from http://www.forbes.com/sites/anthonykosner/2012/05/21/youtube-turns-seven-now-uploads-72-hours-of-video-per-minute/

Graphicsms.com (2010). Social Networking Statistics. Received from http://www.graphicsms.com/blog/877-social-networking-statistics-2010/

O’Reilly, T. (2005). What is Web 2.0. Received from http://pages.cs.wisc.edu/~ter/archive/LIS%20201/Readings/O%27Reilly%20T%202005-09-30%20re%20web%202.0.pdf

About The Author

Hannah Gölz
Number of Entries : 2

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