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Network Basics

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“Call it a clan, call it a network, call it a tribe, call it a family: Whatever you call it, whoever you are, you need one.” Jane Howard

Alumni associations. Church groups. Anti-war activists. Soccer teams. Students against the genocide in Darfur. We all know and live in networks. They are the informal web of ties that underpin our personal and professional lives. Networks aren't new. But they have new potential to affect social change, in part due to the power of the internet.

The basics: How networks function

What makes a healthy network tick? We know how to build a strong organization. What about a network? Some characteristics to watch for:

  • Communications: How do networks talk, share and plan? When?
  • Social Ties: What's the 'glue' holding people together?
  • Shared Resources: What kinds of skills, talents, interests and resources must a network have? How does it use them?

(Join the discussion on each of these components!)

  • Members: Who is part of the network? What does that mean?


Joe Trippi discussing building community (networks!) online:


Citations: Jefferson High Map: American Journal of Sociology, Vol. 100, No. 1. "Chains of affection: The structure of adolescent romantic and sexual networks," Bearman PS, Moody J, Stovel K.