Social networks and Internet connectivity effects


Information, Communication & Society, Volume 8, Number 2, p.125-147 (2005)





INTERNET; SOCIAL networks; TELECOMMUNICATION; INTERPERSONAL relations; SOCIAL groups; communication theory; computer-mediated communication; latent ties; strong ties; weak ties


This paper explores the impact of communication media and the Internet on connectivity 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. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]Copyright of Information, Communication & Society is the property of Routledge and its content may not be copied or emailed to multiple sites or posted to a listserv without the copyright holder's express written permission. However, users may print, download, or email articles for individual use. This abstract may be abridged. No warranty is given about the accuracy of the copy. Users should refer to the original published version of the material for the full abstract. (Copyright applies to all Abstracts)


ArticleAccession Number: 17402303; Haythornthwaite, Caroline 1; Email Address:; Affiliation: 1: Associate Professor, Graduate School of Library and Information Science, University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, 501 East Daniel Street, Champaign, IL, 61822, USA; Source Info: Jun2005, Vol. 8 Issue 2, p125; Subject Term: INTERNET; Subject Term: SOCIAL networks; Subject Term: TELECOMMUNICATION; Subject Term: INTERPERSONAL relations; Subject Term: SOCIAL groups; Author-Supplied Keyword: communication theory; Author-Supplied Keyword: computer-mediated communication; Author-Supplied Keyword: Internet; Author-Supplied Keyword: latent ties; Author-Supplied Keyword: social networks; Author-Supplied Keyword: strong ties; Author-Supplied Keyword: weak ties; NAICS/Industry Codes: 517110 Wired Telecommunications Carriers; NAICS/Industry Codes: 517919 All Other Telecommunications; NAICS/Industry Codes: 518210 Data Processing, Hosting, and Related Services; NAICS/Industry Codes: 519130 Internet Publishing and Broadcasting and Web Search Portals; NAICS/Industry Codes: 624190 Other Individual and Family Services; NAICS/Industry Codes: 811213 Communication Equipment Repair and Maintenance; Number of Pages: 23p; Document Type: Article