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Interactivity and Dialogue

Interactivity is not merely an alternate means of consumption but a means of establishing a dialogue.

This dialogue is central to a socially designed website and has proved profoundly illusive to commercial interests. Lolkatz, FML, and other internet phenomena are embodiments of this dialogue. These memes have become the subject of study that tracks internet phenomena asking whether or not these relationships are predictable and whether there is a kind of digital science which can describe these relationships

The study of these phenomena is nothing new, and researchers are increasingly looking to the internet and social networks in particular as a relatively unexplored field of study with a wealth of data and sweeping implications (http://arstechnica.com/science/news/2009/02/aaas-60tb-of-behavioral-data-the-everquest-2-server-logs.ars).

Of particular interest is whether these memes can be commercially harnessed.  In general, business has a huge interest in social networking as the newest form of marketing.  Yet, these commercial groups tend to overlook the level of dialogue necessary to successfully engage in a network (http://www.slideshare.net/mzkagan/what-the-fk-is-social-media-one-year-later). These commercial interests are the crux of the tension between the interests of the user and the owner of the web site.  Resolving the legal interests of social networking encourage a proper dialogue between users (http://amandafrench.net/2009/02/16/facebook-terms-of-service-compared). A Creative Commons Share and Share Alike license allows the greatest level of dialogue and encourages users to generate and reinvent in an effort to foster this dialogue and enrich the quality of information distributed across the site.

The quality of this dialogue can be affected by more than just legal restraints.  Dialogue is also restrained by interface and by the size of the network. Here the quality of dialogue may go down where the size of the network increases which some have termed the “reverse network effect.” “In a social network, the value for existing users of a new user joining the network plateaus once users have most of their own contacts in that network” (http://www.readwriteweb.com/archives/is_there_a_reverse_network_effect_with_scale.php).

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