What is a Social Network?

As the TuDiabetes family approaches its fourth year (next year) as a Diabetes Social Network, I wanted to share this gorgeous blog entry by JAMES SHELLEY that I stumbled upon thanks to Khürt Williams

Let’s not forget what a “social network” really is…

Community works like the synapses of the brain:
the stronger the connections, the stronger everybody is.

Existence is symbiosis.

The question is not whether you will be a part of the relational ecology;
the question is: will you build or weaken your partnerships therein?

Social networking — the real kind — happens when I realize that
winning does not require that somebody else has to lose;
getting ahead does not mean that others must be left behind;
and my success does not require that another fails.

This is the shift from competition to collaboration,
from combat to cooperation.
This is the power of the network:
when I discover that your success directly correlates to my own.

(republished based on the Creative Commons license the author gives on his blog:

Now that’s a blog post that makes you stop in your tracks and think about what you’re really doing.

Incredible post James. Thank you!

We read several interesting books about non-competitive approaches for martial arts classes I took a couple of years ago. “No Contest” and “Rambo and the Dalai Lama”.

I’ve had a couple of interesting non-competitive tennis games since then . The guys I play with were skeptical when I said “nah, let’s not play a game, let’s just play” but, after a while, I could tell we were getting into it, hitting back and forth. Trying to hit it to each other, so we could hit it back, is just as challenging as trying to hit winners, maybe harder, because you not only have to aim but also control your shot more precisely? With something like diabetes, I have found it very refreshing to commiserate with a community. We all win together by having a resource like this available.

This is a touching and idealized view of “social networking.” Sort of like the pure ideals that developed around “hacking.” Hacking was done for pure intellectual pursuit and was done with good intentions. But I am old, and I am not naive. Social networking does not have anything built-in which assures that the participants act in everyones best interests or collaborate. When Roche held their so-called Social Media Summit, I actually was upset, and thought everyone should refuse to participate. Why? Because they are the “enemy.” I don’t expect them to act in my interests. I expect them to “use” social media for their own purposes. I expect social networking to be “used” as a “tool” for spin. I expect representatives of the health industry and health insurance companies to infiltrate us to their own ends. I personally am worried. I like the ideals in this poem. I always like the pure ideals of the “Hacker.” But I also know that these things can be used to great harm.

I love the last paragraph

“This is the shift from competition to collaboration,
from combat to cooperation.
This is the power of the network:
when I discover that your success directly correlates to my own.”

@bsc everything that’s ever been created can (and will) be abused by folks. But those of us who care should try and follow the ideals expressed by James.

I’m not sure why you think of Roche as your enemy. Is that because they make money by providing us with products? Would that mean other companies like Eli Lilly are also our enemies? Remember that insulin was first purified and produced in bulk by Lilly. I think it’s OK for companies to make a profit, provided they don’t try to block development of better products to help us. Full disclosure, I’ve attended two media summits organized by Roche. They paid for my expenses, but did not pay me or try to influence me in any way. I actually think they worked hard to ensure that they didn’t influence the attendees.

“Winning does no require that somebody else has to lose.”

This sums up my philosophy with online organizations. When we work together, we become more than the sum of our parts. It’s radically different than selling widgets where if there are two stores and 100 people who want widgets, winning makes a loser of your competitor.

Part of being more than the sum of the parts is that people can consume and consider without participating and, perhaps, still get something out of it? There’s always the possibility that people will misuse the ‘tool’ that a message board provides but, at the same time, there’s built in checks and balances? I don’t have an opinion on Roche though…