The ‘weak ties’ that bind

Of course, young social networkers at your house already know all about "weak ties" – they just call them something else: their social-network "friends." Some of them are friends in real life, some just friends of friends, kind of second-tier friends, or somebody they met at the last away game. It's just helpful to have a fellow adult explain what friends in social-network sites are like from a sociologist's perspective. That's what Julia Angwin at the Wall Street Journal does. These weak ties can really come in handy in these crazy economic times, as well as when one's looking for a summer job or a prom date for her visiting cousin. "Weak ties are particularly good for job searching," Angwin reports, citing the view of a Stanford sociology professor, "because acquaintances can expose a job candidate to a much wider range of possibilities than his or her close friends can." Check out the article for more on the value of weak ties. But remember this is a very adult discussion, wherein the "friends" in social sites are viewed in a different, more casual and detached, way than among young social networkers. For a sense of that greater intensity, see "The pain of 'unfriending'" in the Digital Natives project's blog at Harvard Law School's Berkman Center for Internet & Society.

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