The final speaker at COST298 is Peter Mechant, who draws our attention to the different modes of participation in social networking, and begins by showing a number of existing approaches to understanding these different participatory modes. Interactivity can also be divided in user-to-user, user-to-document, and user-to-system interaction, and each of these forms of interaction can be further subcategorised (e.g. can documents only be accessed, or can users add information; indeed, can document creators specify the range of interactions which they wish to allow).
Peter and his colleagues examined some 33 Websites of relevance to Flemish Internet users, checking them against these criteria. From this, they distinguished experience and sharings iets, tool and information sites and social network sites. Experience and sharing Websites (e.g. Flickr or last.fm) lacked direct communication functions and did not provide much information about the activities of others, but provided ample opportunity to provide metadata and network with others. The focus here is on facilitating users' sharing of experiences. Tool and information Websites (e.g. Slashdot, IMDB, del.icio.us, Twitter) scored very low on all interaction dimensions and provided only for very specific functions. Social networking sites (Facebook, Slideshare) scored very highly on all interaction categories, enabling direct social interaction. Are all Web 2.0 sites social network sites, then, or are social networking sites only a subcategory of Web 2.0?
Very interesting - though I'm surprised by which categories specific sites were placed in! How, for example, did Slideshare and Flickr end up in different categories? There's a discussion to be had about category definitions,I think...