Cultural Message in Danah Boyd’s “Let’s Define Our Terms”

In Boyd’s blog “Let’s Define Our Terms,” he discusses the difficulty of trying to find a definition for social networking technologies that everyone can agree on.  But, the problem is that…well no one can really agree on one, universal definition.  So, what’s the message in this blog?  I would say it has to be that every culture has a different perspective and definition for anything in society.  From one person to another there are going to be similarities and differences within their different of what technology constitutes using social networking.

One commentor on this blog, Thomas Ryberg, has made the observation that we should start making a distinction between social networking websites and social networking tools.  My view of what he is saying is that the general public, who may not know as much about technology as some, may see websites like Facebook and Myspace to be the only social networking technology available.  However, educational technologists may consider other tools to be social networking such as blogs, wikis, and instant messenger tools.  The difference between the two parties is that the public defines social networking by websites while the education technologists define it by tools.  Sure, they both have elements of social networking in them, but their purposes are different.

This debate can go on and on.    What need to decide for ourselves is what do we mean when we say social networking technologies.  Among the many different definitions that pop up, there has to be some common ground among them and it is from that common ground a definition will rise.

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