Fifth part of a virtual roundtable for OCLC NextSpace:

Do you see [online] social networking as a serious, long-term cultural and business phenomenon?

My brother, who was working in a prison ministry,told me: “The guys when they get out they have no networks that’s why it’s hard for them to find jobs or a place to stay or even a place to just have fun.”

Of course, this is part of what prison is about breaking down the social network that got the guys in trouble in the first place. What’s missing, as my brother noticed, is a replacement network. Without a network and associated social support we become steppenwolves, single that will not survive.

We are in a time not on no tribes but of multiple tribes, not of a single family but of multiple families, not in a time of a single social network but of multiple networks — each of the highly and loosely connected social structures more easy to manage in terms of time shifting, commitment, and in selection.

How to make the support of these networks sustainable and flexible is the challenge be it in the form of a business, a government or a group of volunteers.