Defining and Using Types of Relationships in Social Networks

Spatio-Temporal Constraints on Social Networks Workshop, University of California, Santa Barbara, Center for Spatial Studies, 13-14 December 2010

Carsten Kessler

“My interest in the specialist meeting on spatio-temporal constraints on social networks is in the interaction between the relationships between real-world interactions and online social networks. I am particularly interested in how those real-world relationships can act as the grounding for social networks. Evidently, key relationships—such as best friends—are often reflected in current social networks, yet hard to distinguish from other, potentially loose contacts in a user’s social network. Hence, there seems to be a mapping mechanism form real-world to online relationships, where some information is lost on the way. This loss is partly caused by the implementation of the social networks, which only allow for certain, fixed types of relationships. Spatio-temporal relationships between users, combined with other information (message exchange, participation in events, etc.) could be used to disambiguate these relationships. In order to do so, the following research questions need to be dealt with:

  1. What is the ontology of relationships in online social networks?
  2. What information is lost when going from real-world to online relationships?
  3. How can real-world identities allow us to translate between different social networks?
  4. How can spatio-temporal media be used in this process?
  5. How can such information be used in online communities?”

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