Deciphering Social Networks


Adoption and usage data regarding social networking trends by consumers has convinced many business and IT leadership teams that social network sites, and their technological underpinnings, can be viewed as viable usage models to satisfy the communication, information sharing, and collaboration needs of the enterprise. In addition, strategists believe that the technology that supports such sites should be considered a credible technological model to help guide internal deployments. Higher education institutions should be careful, however, that they don't blindly adopt solutions simply because they are popular at the moment. Strategists unfamiliar with the field of social networks beyond its technological aspects should pay attention to issues such as:

  • How culture influences awareness of, and engagement in, social networks
  • How social networks can be structured in different ways with, or without, technology as a mediation method
  • How relationship dynamics influence participation (e.g., politics)

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Burton Group (www.burtongroup.com) provides technically in-depth research and advisory services for colleges and universities, government agencies, and commercial enterprises. Burton Group's practical and unbiased research and advice helps technologists make smart IT infrastructure decisions in increasingly complex environments. Burton Group covers directories, identity management, application platforms, architecture, and network and telecom infrastructure topics. Like ECAR, Burton Group is an unbiased advocate for the user and more than 80% of Burton Group's clients are user organizations rather than suppliers. EDUCAUSE member institutions can become users of Burton Group research services through EDUCAUSE pricing. Burton Group is an ECAR partner and can be contacted by email at slesueur@burtongroup.com or by telephone (801-373-5767).

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