Crossing network borders: seeing people behind artifacts, taking action in people networks for collaborating on meanings

December 2, 2009

Tonight i started to think of the nature of networks, but particularly of the transformations that take place while we go from one type of network to another type. I think from the ecosystem point of view, mapping the reasons of this transformation and how much it is really happening is interesting.

The fact is that even though people monitor each others’ content in the networks, it takes them to cross a certain barrier to start commenting, making contact with the authors, becoming really involved in the networks with people, not with artifacts only. It happens quite rarely between strangers, as much is my experience in networks.

Question is why does /scientific/ matchmaking (with papers and artifacts) in networks end so rarely with actual dating (synthesizing something great with real people, becoming to know and work with them)?

I have read and commented one paper about sharing cultures in Delicious, and it was not as big as we think, only maybe 20 % of people do this social browsing from one artifact to another, or moving from one person’s artifacts to find other artifacts.

Riina Vuorikari wrote:
…the unauthenticated users tend to explore resources through browsing (51%): 30% browse by discipline and 22% Community browsing, whereas the authenticated users browse less (38%), but additionally use Personal search (9%).

Another study, Olga, one of my master student promoted one event in Facebook and in other social networks, and just after the event she sent around a questionnaire to know how people responded and contributed. The ratio is about same 20 % who comment, forward or want to collaborate some extent.

Why is it so low? What hinders it, or is it natural that in ecosystems only 20 % of “energy” moves from one systemic level to another…tries to form a second level “networking-organ” formation.

Hoffmayer’s papers of semiotic fitness and niches seem to talk of the same things, how we translate from genotype to environment? Here environment is all these artifacts in the web.

Survival through semiosis implies a dynamic creativity. In addition to vertical semiotic system, i.e. genetic communication down through the generations, all organisms also partake in a horizontal semiotic system, i.e. communication throughout the ecological space (Hoffmeyer and Emmeche 1991).

The semiotic fitness, should ideally measure the semiotic competence or success of natural systems in managing the genotype-envirotype translation processes. The optimization of semiotic fitness results in the continuing growth in the depth of interpretative patterns accessible to life (Hoffmeyer, 1998).

The transformation of molecules to signs opens for an unending semiogenic evolution based on semetic interaction patterns between entities at all levels (Hoffmeyer, 2005).

I started to think, maybe it would be an excellent topic for meta-study from different papers from social networks to find out what might be the reasons when we cross this artifact-network border and become involved and interested in people.

Probably this border also exists the other way, moving from people-centred social networks to seeing and collaborating on the artifact content level.

PS. Fernando Santamaria pointed to the Engeström’s paper of object centered sociality.

Jyri Engeström (2005) wrote: we can use the object-centered sociality theory to identify new objects that are potentially suitable for social networking services.


From people to content:

a) leaving traces of action in networks (artifacts, tags, web of connections in network, certain types of action in network)

b) monitoring others in networks (passive mode, no action follows) (social surveillance)

c) using the cues from other for making individual decisions (active mode)

– can happen by monitoring individuals and using these cues from networks to take action (social navigation)

– monitoring the system patterns by pulling out datasets, visualizations etc.
(semantic navigation, social information retrieval)

d) monitoring others and resulting in collaborative action that is not coordinated centrally (participatory surveillance, swarming)

From content to people: What trends are there???

See this figure in the paper:


I think it may be great to develop more universal figure for social software ecosystems about similar functioning across various network borders from people to artifacts.

So, what are these factors that make us shift our interest and activity back and forth between the network of people and networks of artifacts?
Are these networks mixed in our head or are they hybrid?

Something to study further…
Here is a related paper, that enables to study this issue:
Artefact-Actor-Networks as tie between social networks and artefact networks

Wolfgang Reinhardt
Matthias Moi
Tobias Varlemann

In this paper we introduce the approach of Artefact-Actor-Networks that tries to connect social networks and artefact networks in order to make claims on the semantical connections between persons and manifold artefacts.

The resulting Artefact-Actor-Networks allow making claims about the ties between artefacts from multiple sources and the actors involved in their creation, modification and linkage.

To connect artefacts and actors under and between each other, semantic relations are required. Every relation in the network connects objects by a semantic context like isAutor or isRightHolder. With the help of Artefact-Actor-Networks participation in the lifecycle of artefacts as well as significant connections to involved actors will be outlined.

We consider the communication and collaboration with each tool (e.g. chat, e-mail anddocuments) as a single layer of the respective network. We unite these single layers in both social and artefact networks to consolidated networks that contain all actors and artefacts respectively.

In the context of Artefact-Actor-Networks there exist semantic relations between actors and artefacts (AArelation), actors and actors(ACT2 relation) and between artefacts and artefacts (ART2 relation).



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