A couple of very interesting articles that I haven’t had time to really get into yet but which I think, from first glance, might prove valuable to consider for anyone who’s thinking about social networking and communities:
Community Networking and Public Benefits
In general, healthy networks seem to result in improved community welfare i.e., they are characteristic of public benefits. The converse is true of unhealthy networks. This paper explores if healthy networks are where limited government funding should be focused in order to get the greatest social payback, or if these funds should be spent helping to improve the strength of less healthy networks and communities, in order to improve the well-being of the country as a whole. It will do so by examining if community networks, both virtual and place-based, create public benefits on both the macro and micro levels.
Free internet as an agent of community transformation
Does the internet empower communities or perpetuate the status quo? Can universal internet access resolve education, employment, and other social gaps? We report on our longitudinal assessment of low income community access to free internet in New Zealand, in terms of new internet users’ (1) community belonging, (2) internet connectedness, and (3) civic engagement. Findings show internet connectedness may have only a minimal impact on community capacity due to constraints such as family transience, difficult domestic circumstances, inadequate project resourcing, and poor literacy. Internet ubiquity may not be a strategically useful social objective unless contextual limitations are recognised and addressed.