Net Morticians

It wouldn’t surprise me much at all if, in the year ahead,
The Lives and Deaths of Networkswe hear more about
network blight or the dissolution, abandonment, and decay of once-thriving
clusters of interconnected activity. Danah Boyd’s

entry from Wednesday
started me thinking again about the nascent network
cycles that have yet to show significant, extended desultory patterns and
down-trends. Boyd responds to Steve O’Hear’s notion of
social network fatigue (via)
or, basically, the idea that actors in a given system will tire, grow weary, and
as such, the system on a broader scale will slow to a creep or halt altogether.
at first expresses skepticism–"Users aren’t going to tire of their friends but
they will tire of problematic social spaces that make hanging out with friends
difficult"–before working through other considerations
related to the fading of social networks and speculation about YouTube, MySpace,
and teens.

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Gliffy and Facebook

The week’s quasi-experiment in WRT302 blended Facebook and Gliffy. In the
session dedicated to Facebook (what of it?), I wanted to prime our upcoming
discussion of networks when we read a few chapters from Critical Mass.
But reading about Facebook didn’t seem to me to be enough. I was mildly
bored with the idea of reading about Facebook. Next, pose as if critical.
Next, rehearse the cautions about visibility and decorum. Thorny! It’s a fairly
reliable pattern that when I’m bored, my students are doubly bored. And

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Lloyd-Jones on Centrality

In "A View from the Center," his 1977 CCCC keynote address, here’s what
Richard Lloyd-Jones said about Mrs. Peterson, "the emblem" of those in his

Some will share a memory with me–the recollection of picking up the phone,
cranking one long ring, and getting "central." You could ring various
combinations of shorts and longs and get specific subscribers directly, but if
you really wanted to know what was going on in the village you rang

The folks in bigger towns, which had numbers, had to call central in order
to be hooked up to anybody else on the system, but their central didn’t know
much except numbers, and out central had a name–Mrs. Peterson–and she knew
all sorts of things. Somehow, in the village, she knew who was at the
bank, who had gone down to the ice house, who hadn’t been feeling well.
I don’t know that she listened in on all the conversations, but we supposed
so. She just made herself central in the life of the community. In our more
urban and perhaps urbane way, we would think of her as a communication nexus,
but we’d to better to remember Mrs. Peterson as Central. (49)

Compositionist as pastoral telephone operator. A communication nexus.
This isn’t the only metaphor Lloyd-Jones invokes in the talk, but it is the
piece that resonates most with network studies. Whatever her methods
(eavesdropping? Mrs. Peterson!), she is knowing because of a high degree of
, her niche in a reasonably sized network. When network
become too large, the connector’s knowledge diminishes. Thresholds: Central
knows only numbers in densely populated areas.

Nothing to add beyond that. Just reading for exams,
posting notes,
and thinking Lloyd-Jones was talking about network centrality in his address out
in Kansas City some years ago.