I’m indebted to Professor Stephen Coleman of the University of Leeds who posted a response on DoWire to a statement by the owner Steven Clift about Facebook.

Stephen argued that: “Facebook is the vogue space right now, as Myspace was before it. These things change. And, of course, in some countries (notably China and India) Facebook is not the most obvious space for government-hosted discussions.

The wider question of whether the Facebook model, based on weak ties between relatively small groups, is the best one for civic engagement is worth reflecting upon. Given the homophilic nature of most online discussion, and the heterophilic nature of democratic citizenship, friends’ networks might not be the most promising avenue for civic deliberation.”

This has to be one of the better rationales for government not to getting too hung up over any particular social medium as a method of engaging citizens. Apart from the fact that the social media are in a constant state of flux, they are largely there for people with similar opinions, so one instance of anti-government propaganda is likely to result in a deluge!

As a fan of the American poet Allen Ginsberg’s epic poem ‘Howl’, I found this You Tube video on social media amusing. It may be to others?


One Response to Facebook

  1. Ella says:

    Stephen’s point about a current and North-Western view about FaceBook is cool. Not sure about his homophilic friendship networks though. If people didn’t value different opinions in their friendship circles, I don’t think I’d have any friends and I’m not sure that Stephen would either!

    I don’t want to overstate the case -people’s friends are probably more like them than the wider population. However, friendship networks widen these groups and can increase diversity. This loose network of social ties is a better building block for democracy than close-knit circles or cliques. Social networking tools seem to support this network widening in a similar way to traditional offline processes (like going to the pub or a housewarming) where we meet friends of friends.

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