You are in the midst of planning your shiny new community or social network site, and you’ve got your social objects all laid out. It’s time to look past the objects, and ask what binds your community together.
Social contact is a strong way to bring people together; letting people form relationships online is a natural extension of how we behave in face-to-face communications. However, when we are on the Internet, we need to be more explicit in how we denote these relationships. We end up with a more formal identification of relationships than happens face to face. Online relationships are either present or not present. Face-to-face relationships can be more fluid, changing over time.
Virtually every social software application allows you to create online relationships by marking someone as a contact and adding him to your social network for that website. The language might vary slightly, and there are different types of relationships that you can create, but the basic concept of a list of people who you have an identifiable relationship with is valid. Chapter 13 touched on how a profile page should include links to support adding people to your network to create the connections for your relationships. It’s time to start building those links.
You need to determine how social relationships are formed for your site. There are several different ways you can let this occur, and the one you ...