It comes down to design and culture. Fairly obvious conclusion to draw, but after my travels through the Neighbors for Neighbors network, the discussion in last weeks class on the relationship between the technical and social could not have been more relevant as I tried to determine how NfN could be more effective in reaching its goals.
Across the network, the key area needed for improvement is that of user participation. While NfN’s JP network does boast a user base of over 1500 and does feature constant blog and forum posts, the aspect of blog and forum responses is fairly low. Also, with the addition of sites for the other towns in Boston, NfN has an imperative to increase participation and boost membership for the new sites.
In my previous post I presented accounts and ideas around increasing participation in networks. One of the more theoretical ideas that was considered was that of social objects, where a social network is defined by an “object” of common interest. While I proposed that NfN’s social object was community organizing for Boston’s neighborhoods, Mushon prompted me to reify this further as he, and rightfully so, felt that community organizing was too abstract and would most likely not boost NfN’s gravitational pull.