Practices of online-based networking – form and consequences of „social software“

Research project at Forschungsstelle „Neue Kommunikationsmedien“ (Univ. Bamberg), 01.10.2005 – 31.12.2007

Funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG)

Project Outline

Social networks are an increasingly important structural principle for both professional and private life. The project „Practices of online-based networking“ analyzed how individuals use the Internet to build and sustain those social relations by focusing on new applications of computer-mediated communication and interaction which are subsumed by the term „social software“. The conceptual approach looked at online-based networking as communicative practices guided by rules and expectations, through which people adopt social software to complement and expand other networking practices both on- and offline. These practices both produce and reproduce structural elements (rules, networks, software) which frame situative usage episodes.

By contrasting different applications and contexts, similarities and differences of networking practices and their consequences for social capital were identified. In particular, the project looked at Weblogs and Social Networking Sites, comparing their institutionalization in personal and professional contexts. Several case studies, combining standardized and open interviews with network analysis compiled data on technical / software-related characteristics of the applications, users‘ personal characteristics, motives and expectations as well as on structural variables.

The final project report (in german) and a list of various publications are available here. The following english papers summarize various aspects of the project:

  • Schmidt, Jan (2007): Blogging practices: An analytical framework. In: Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, Vol. 12, Nr. 4. Available online:
  • Schmidt, Jan (2007): Blogging practices in the German-speaking blogosphere. Findings from the „Wie ich blogge?!“-survey. Research Centre „New Communication Media“ working paper 07-02. Bamberg. Available online:
  • Schmidt, Jan (2007): Social Software: Facilitating information-, identity- and relationship managament. In: Burg, Thomas N. / Jan Schmidt (Eds.): BlogTalks Reloaded. Social Software – Research and Cases. Vienna/Norderstedt: Books on Demand. 31-49. [pdf]
  • Schmidt, Jan / Wilbers, Martin / Paetzolt, Matthias (2006): Use of and satisfaction with blogging software. Empirical findings for the german-speaking blogosphere. Working paper of the Research Centre „New Communication Media“ 06-04. 2006. Online:

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