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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.
13 comments

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…?

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Greetings from Vaasa! April 3, 2008

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Teaching, Travel.
3 comments

center-of-vaasa.jpgI am in Finland at the moment giving a couple of guest lectures at The University of Vaasa at The Department of Communication Studies. Today I taught the “Advanced Course in Multimedia Communication” and tomorrow I will be giving a lecture on the course “Text and Discourse Analysis – Practice”.

Both the lectures deal with my research on Arto (which is actually a boy’s name in Finland 🙂 ) and the theories and methods of discourse studies that I am using.

The Finnish counterpart of Arto is the social network site IRC-Galleria and it is interesting to hear how the history of that site seems to be similar to Arto – especially when it comes to the moral panic and the stories presented in the news media. Also, it seems that the Finnish youngsters are using IRC-Galleria in the same way that the Danish teenagers are using Arto – only the average age on IRC-Galleria is about 20 years old, which is a little older than the average Arto user.

By the way, Facebook is of course also really huge in Finland. All the students I taught today had Facebook profiles.

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The view from the University of Vaasa – nice, with ice on top of the water.