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Greetings from Halkidiki – and some notes on connectedness… May 4, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Holiday, Reading, Social Networking, Travel.

I am in Greece at the moment. At a beautiful summer resort in the breathtaking Halkidiki, which is located in the south eastern part of Central Macedonia. I am here on a working holiday – not attending the Networked Learning Conference, which will take place here the next couple of days, but Thomas, my boyfriend, is attending, so I thought it would be a nice idea to come with him and get a bit of reading done.

So far, it has been really nice. The weather is great and I have been sitting by the pool reading. One of the books I am reading is “Connecting – How We Form Social Bonds and Communities in the Internet Age” by Mary Chayko. It is rapidly becoming one of my favourite books. It deals with how people form different sociomental bonds with others with whom they seldom communicate face to face, who they don’t even know or have never met IRL.

The book was published in 2002 – before online social networking was really an issue, and nowhere in the book the them ‘social network site’ is mentioned, but I feel like I am reading about online social networking and how people form and maintain online connections on e.g. Facebook – and why it is important to have  connections to both particular and typified others (e.g. a chat friend, a faraway relative, a deceased family member, a celebrity or even a fictional character) and why these connections are just as important to us as our daily face to face interactions.

I think that I will use the book and some of its concepts in my dissertation when explaining and defining online social networking. Even though it doesn’t deal with social network sites, Chayko acknowledges the fact that she could be writing about upcoming technologies that might change how we connect and form social bonds in the age of the Internet: “It is a safe bet that technologies that are being developed, refined, and disseminated as this is written will lead to currently unimaginable changes in our society, in the nature of connectedness and in thinking itself” (p. 15). Did someone mention Facebook, Bebo, Orkut…?


1. Media Districts Entertainment Blog » Greetings from Halkidiki – and some notes on connectedness… - May 4, 2008

[…] Ruth Group placed an observative post today on Greetings from Halkidiki â and some notes on connectednessâ¦Here’s a quick excerpt […]

2. Anne-Mette - May 4, 2008

Well that sounds very interesting – and by the way, I am green with envy over the pool-side reading bit!

3. Will Pollard - May 5, 2008

Hello Malene

Found this Googling on “Networked Learning Conference” as of today the only result near Halkidiki. So what could that tell us? Not your problem of course but this is the only blog source I can find so please allow a question or two.

My impression is that “critique” is fine with academics but there may not be much practice. The social networking scene could have been designed with theory from academics but I think it just happened anyway. Have I got this way off topic already? Any news on how the Foucault scholars suggest online comms should be designed?

Meanwhile, hope the sun is shining



4. Malene Charlotte Larsen - May 5, 2008

Hi Will,

Thank you for the comment. I don’t know why more people are not blogging about the conference. Perhaps, they are too busy attending the many different sessions at the moment 🙂 – but I will surely pass on your request.

Regarding your second comment, I think you are right that academics are not so much into practice or the designing aspects of online social networking. I am not either. I am much more interested in understanding and analysing the phenomenon.

And I have no idea how the Foucault scholars would design online communities 🙂

5. Will Pollard - May 5, 2008


Thanks for this. I have another request. Looking on Flickr there seem to be no recent Creative Commons photos from Halkadiki. OK people are busy but maybe some will turn up later in the week?

What would the tag be?



6. Will Pollard - May 5, 2008


Found some detail on what I was interested in

The Tyranny of Participation and Collaboration in Networked Learning


A heterotopian view of participation acknowledges that it may well and often does test our customary notions of ourselves but at the same time in doing so offers the possibility of heterotopian spaces to imagine and desire differently, not in a utopian, normative or comfortable sense but in a heterotopian, often disturbing and disruptive sense.

Symposium 3 now over I think.

So what is heterotopia and are there any weblinks for such spaces?


7. moland - May 6, 2008

Hello Malene!
I am glad that you found that book useful. I found it very suitable for a paper i wrote a while ago. The paper discussed how the social bond to other is affected when people oscillate between a mediated and non-mediated environment. The discussion, as I see it, has been focused on online social bond and/or meeting people from online in an offline environment (such as internet dating). This forgets the actual and everyday use of the media.

Chaykos discussion is rather one-sided, in accordance with my critique above. The theories are general for non-presence mental meetings of the minds in the “sociomental space” and not specific for internet as I see it. The actual “content” of a socio(mental) bond is dependent on the media that connects the “hubs and spokes”. Also I found it more useful to talk about the “mental” aspect of the social bond, rather than using a new concept of “sociomental bonds”. I have not found anything yet, but most certainly there are theories in media and communication science that discusses the same theme: mediated (mental) social bonds (such as relationships to celebrities).

8. Malene Charlotte Larsen - May 7, 2008

Hi moland,

Thank you for the comment. I would love to read your paper. It sounds really interesting.

It think the book is good when it comes to describing the obvious (which is normally a hard thing to do :-)) Also, it think it can help explain why we are so attracted to online social networking and keeping the “bonds” and connections alive. But as I said – I would love to read your critique of the book. I am only half way trough it at the moment.

Best wishes

9. Malene Charlotte Larsen - May 7, 2008

Hi Will,

I don’t know if people will be uploading photos from the conference to Flickr. Perhaps the tag would be NLC08… have a look anyway 🙂

I did actually hear Vivian talk about her paper, but you must go to Foucalt for the right definition of ‘heterotopia’.. 🙂


10. Will Pollard - May 8, 2008


Thanks for this guidance, I shall try it out. The Wikipedia is not much help.

“Then the story goes on endlessly”
“Exactly. And it demonstrates the shrewdness of the Masters.”
“But what do they want people to know?”
“Only that there’s a secret.”

Umberto Eco Foucault’s Pendulum

11. Will Pollard - May 8, 2008


Just had a look at Flickr. It turns out there is already nlc08 , a conference for naughty librarians


oh dear, maybe try something else


12. eka - May 15, 2008

Hello Malene

I hope you had a nice stay in Halkidiki! You are invited to join the photocontest
and to review your hotel

Best regards!

13. moland - August 11, 2008

Actually it is my bachelor thesis in sociology.

Chayko theories are part of a bigger theoretical model. This model is used to gain an understanding of the social bonds oscillation between an online and offline existence. Especially stressed in the thesis are specific emotions related to the transgression of the normative boundary between online and offline.

I should also mention that it is written in Swedish, but the abstract is written in English. If you, or anyone else, have any reflections, just send me a message.

Read it here

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