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Brainstorm: Social network site categories January 8, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Brainstorm, Social network sites, Social Networking.

As my first blog post in 2008 I hereby invite all the readers of “My PhD Blog” to participate in a little post-holiday exercise :-D.

It is a brainstorm on all the different categories of social network sites that exist at the moment. I will start by listing the categories I can think of – with exemplary sites. Please feel free to add more. And feel free to correct me if you think that some of my categories, or examples used, are off.

I am aware that some of the sites I mention will fall into more than one category. Many of the sites are – because of my research interests – Danish, but I would like to know about international examples as well.

Social network site categories

  1. Youth – e.g. Arto, NationX, SKUM, LunarStorm, Bebo
  2. Friendship – e.g. Facebook, Friendster
  3. Games/fun – e.g. Habbo Hotel, Netstationen
  4. Business/CV – e.g. LinkedIn
  5. Music – e.g. LastFM, MySpace, myvoice
  6. Video/entertainment – e.g. YouTube, Vix.dk
  7. Photos – e.g. Flickr
  8. Pets – e.g. Catster, Dogster
  9. Religion – e.g. MyChurch, GodTube
  10. Academic/professional – e.g. KForum
  11. Political – e.g. Radikale.net
  12. Libraries – e.g. Vores Bibliotek
  13. Discussion – e.g. Mingler
  14. Death – e.g. Mindet.dk
  15. Enemies/hate – e.g. Enemybook, Hatebook, IFHY (I Fucking Hate You)
  16. Anti-social – e.g. isolatr, NoSo, Snubster
  17. School – e.g. HG Space, Ekademia
  18. Design – e.g. Threadless, NotABrand
  19. Children – e.g. GoSupermodel
  20. Blogging – e.g. Blog.dk
  21. Sleep and wake up – e.g. Sleep.Fm

Those were the different categories I could think of. There must be several others 🙂

(I know that some of the sites I used as examples would perhaps not fall under the definition of a social network site – that depends on the definition…)



1. Anders - January 8, 2008
2. Malene Charlotte Larsen - January 8, 2008

Hi Anders,

Thanks for the additional examples :D.

3. Thomas Ryberg - January 8, 2008

Interesting experiment 🙂

The school category should really include the open source system Elgg (http://elgg.org), which is what Ekademia runs on – equally the social networking site for educational researchers http://eduspaces.net could be mentioned – it is not school (though some use it for their classes), maybe it also belongs in the category academic/research.

I think Fred Stutzman has actually suggested some very nice overarching categories as well – ego-centric and object centric networks:

“To generalize, let’s consider two types of social networks: ego-centric and object-centric. An ego-centric social network places the individual as the core of the network experience (Orkut, Facebook, LinkedIn, Friendster) while the object-centric network places a non-ego element at the center of the network.”
Source: http://chimprawk.blogspot.com/2007/11/social-network-transitions.html

4. Malene Charlotte Larsen - January 8, 2008

Hi Thomas,

Thank you for the comment and the mentioning of Elgg and Eduspaces – of course, I should have included them in my list 😀

Also, thank you for the reference to Stutzman. “Ego-centric” and “object-centric” seems like a nice division. And most of the examples above could probably be organised under one of those two overarching categories.

5. Trine-Maria - January 8, 2008

Travel (new categori) and the sites are Dopplr.com and (maybe) Tripadvisor if you regard it a social network?

6. Lis faurholt - January 8, 2008

Hi Charlotte!
Just a few suggestions from the southern provinces:

School -> Ning
Bookmarks – e.g. del.icio.us
Books – e.g. LibraryThing and Amazons new site: askville.amazon.com
and Craigslist (categoty, hm….?)

7. Thomas Ryberg - January 8, 2008

Trine-Maria’s suggestion made me think about networks where location/place/whereabouts is the issue – e.g. http://plazes.com or maybe communities forming around Google Earth or various online maps (Yahoo, Google, Microsoft). Also I am wondering where something like twitter.com should be placed…

8. Malene Charlotte Larsen - January 8, 2008

Thank you, Trine-Maria, for adding a new category to the list. I think that both examples would fly, as I guess I defined “social network” really broad here.

Thank you, Lis, for your perspectives. Perhaps the categories ‘libraries’ and ‘books’ could be joined. Or do you think that they are different?

Craiglist is interesting – and it would probably be to narrowly defined if we put it in category 4. Perhaps ‘advertisements’ should be a new category?

And of course, bookmarks should be mentioned in this regard too 🙂

9. Malene Charlotte Larsen - January 8, 2008

Hi Thomas,

Yes, you are right. ‘Location’ is a good new category.

As for Twitter, I suggest a category of either microblogging or ‘phatic communication’… or it could of course also be viewed as ‘whereabouts’.

10. Thomas Ryberg - January 8, 2008

Maybe one could extend the ego-centric, object-centric with activities and location…would this possibly generate a matrix or 4 dimensions/axis within which (or along) the different sites (or some of them) could be meaningfully placed?

11. Lis Faurholt - January 9, 2008

LibraryThing could be ‘libraries’ (sorry Anders, you had mentioned that one) but I don’t think Amazons askville.amazon.com fit into that category. ‘advertisements’ is okai but maybe ‘consumernetworks’ would be even better? (There may be other consumersites?)

12. Erik - January 10, 2008

What about a category named ‘Dating’?

13. Mikala Hansbøl - January 10, 2008

Yes, interesting experiment indeed. Rather than viewing this as a matter of emptying out categories in relation to social networking, I look at it as a matter of “social networking in the making”. It is interesting to turn things a bit upside-down. Instead of trying to squeeze each site (which is surely multiple in so many ways) into fixed categories, it is interesting to ask “how is it made to be social networking technology?”. So, again, rather than how many, what is maybe more interesting, is what do they do? How do they participate? I’m sure you’ll find theoretical discussions on dating sites, love connections on school sites etc. It would maybe be an even more interesting experiment to question these what seems to be already established categories :-).

14. Julianne - January 10, 2008

yes that is an interesting quesiton…”How is it made to be social networking technology,”

Some examples are obvious like Facebook. Without being a friend you are unable to view a profile or learn about a party that interests you. This is the run of the mill use of social networking technology.

But, as we see there are many applications to this technology as we see from the list. Like http://Last.FM where I can view/listen to my friends’ music history(listened) or http://Sleep.FM where I can send audio messages to wake my friends up & learn about their sleeping/waking habits to http://Dogster where I share my information about my beloved Yorkie with other small dog lovers.

All the above mentioned are unique uses of social networking tech. I just mentioned the ones im familiar with. What others are using social networking tech in a unique and fresh way and how are they doing so?

15. Anthony - January 15, 2008

Thanks. Its a good compilation.

16. What is e-learning? « Mikalas Klumme - April 23, 2008

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