Social networks and internet connectivity effects

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

578 Scopus citations

Abstract

This paper explores the impact of communication media and the Internet on con-nectivity between people. Results from a series of social network studies of media use are used as background for exploration of these impacts. These studies explored the use of all available media among members of an academic research group and among distance learners. Asking about media use as well as about the strength of the tie between communicating pairs revealed that those more strongly tied used more media to communicate than weak ties, and that media use within groups conformed to a unidimensional scale, showing a configuration of different tiers of media use supporting social networks of different ties strengths. These results lead to a number of implications regarding media and Internet connectivity, including: how media use can be added to characteristics of social network ties; how introducing a medium can create latent tie connectivity among group members that provides the technical means for activating weak ties, and also how a change in a medium can disrupt existing weak tie networks; how the tiers of media use also suggest that certain media support different kinds of information flow; and the importance of organization-level decisions about what media to provide and promote. The paper concludes with a discussion of implications for Internet effects.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)125-147
Number of pages23
JournalInformation Communication and Society
Volume8
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 2005
Externally publishedYes

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Keywords

  • Communication theory
  • Computer-mediated communication
  • Internet
  • Latent ties
  • Social networks
  • Strong ties
  • Weak ties

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication

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