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Chapter 8. Hyperconnected. Virtual Worlds. Virtual networks on the internet make social networks visible. Entirely new networks can form in virtual worlds that mimic real life. They can also provide a platform for research. Photo by juanpol, Flickr. Virtual Worlds.

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Chapter 8



Virtual Worlds

Virtual networks on the internet make social networks visible.

Entirely new networks can form in virtual worlds that mimic real life. They can also provide a platform for research.

Photo by juanpol, Flickr


Virtual Worlds

Online you can look however you want!

But people still mostly behave like

people (or at least the people they look


More attractive avatars tend to have

more confidence!

Photos by Minako Bracken and Torley, Flickr


Virtual Worlds

The Ultimatum Game works in virtual worlds too.

But people are affected by the appearance of their avatar!

Player 2’s with tall avatars accept low offers only 38% of the time while short avatars accepted 72% of the time, regardless of the height of the actual players!

Photos by moggs oceanlane, Flickr


Technology and Networks

Technology has not only affected communication but also travel.

People are much more mobile.

As the population grows, this means exposure to more and more people.

Photos by woodleywonderworks, SP8254 and davipt, Flickr



There have always been fears that each new form of technology will diminish good-old-fashioned means of maintaining friendships.

But social networks have only grown stronger with the dawn of the telegraph, phone, and the internet!

Photos by Alexander O'Neill, Johnny Jupiter Photo and vanz, Flickr



The town of Netville is a great example of how technology aids rather than compromises social networks.

In this town, “wired residents”…

  • Could name more fellow residents
  • Talked to more fellow residents
  • Visited more fellow residents
  • And called more fellow residents!

…than their “unwired” neighbors.

Photos by macieklew and ndrwfgg, Flickr


Networks Go Online

There are now hundreds of online social networks!

Photos by,, and


Networks Go Online

These social networks reflect both real world offline interactions and new social networks or connections formed online.

Photos by


Networks Go Online

Some users have hundreds or even thousands of “friends” on these sites.

But the average user has 110 friends on Facebook.

That’s very close to the expected maximum in a real-world social network (Dunbar’s number).

Of those, only about 6.6 are close friends anyway.

Photos by


Reality and Wikiality

Wiki = the Hawaiian word for “fast.”

Online wikis are designed to allow anyone to share information fast!

Photo by


Reality and Wikiality

Some think wikipedia is not reliable because anyone can write anything! But social networks emerge to regulate each topic.

In wikis, individuals create something together that none of the individuals could have made alone.

Photo by


Reality and Wikiality



Access to so much information and so many people can be both beneficial and dangerous.

It is important to realize that online social networks and offline social networks are two completely different things, though rooted in our basic humanity.

Photos by Ramona.Forcella and quinet, Flickr


The Same But Different

The boundaries between the internet and reality are beginning to blur.

One woman even went to jail for having an avatar killed.

Photos by ☆ Shorne ☆and kangotraveler, Flickr