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In this week’s activity, we were asked to create a visual of our network that identifies where and how we are situated. To perform this task, I used Microsoft Excel and Kumu to develop a graph of my LinkedIn social network.

Future of Social Media

According to Statista, a social media management site, the increase in social networks, like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, and LinkedIn over the past few years has been exponential — rising from 3.48 billion users in 2019 to 3.78 billion in 2021, and with expected projections of 4.41 billion users by 2025 (Statista, 2020). This means between 2019 and 2025, the number of users will increase by 1.13 billion. Taking this into account, there is no doubt that social networks have become integral parts of our lives. However, as our networks expand, it becomes difficult to get a sense of its structure and the relationships that exist within.

For this activity, I have mapped my LinkedIn connections to better understand my relationships,  reveal areas where I can boost growth, and increase my professional digital presence.  

LinkedIn as a tool

Social networks consist of relationships between people. I created my LinkedIn account in 2010, to connect with other professionals and my alumni networks. My presence on this platform is Visitor in nature, as I use it as a tool to complete a specific task (e.g. search for career opportunities). My degree of connectivity for LinkedIn is at 404 connections. This is dramatically different from my Facebook account, where I am more Resident, with a total of 1,510 connections.

Click, here for a visual of my LinkedIn network in the form of a node map.

VISUAL node map

My Professional network

In this image we can see how each node (or point) on the graph represents a person (e.g. acquaintance, colleague, friend, or family member). Each node is then attached to a community by an edge (or line of connection) which represents a connection of friendship or contact based on their connection to me. Given this, it is possible to create a community of different people unified by common attributes (in this case institution affiliations), like the one you see above.

If we look at the map, we can see that 11 different communities have been detected. The largest communities are my acquaintances (professionals I have connected with over the past decade) closely followed by my university affiliations (The University of Manitoba, Korea University, and Manchester University). While the smallest communities are my ESL/EFL professionals and Royal Roads University contacts. 

I purposely positioned myself at the center of these communities without edges as a representation of my present level of engagement with this tool (LinkedIn). Since I left teaching two years ago, I have neglected my professional network and turned instead to phone apps like, Slack, WhatsApp, and Facebook messenger to connect with smaller groups. As part of my DPDI plan, I hope to strategically tap into LinkedIn’s unlimited supply of network connections to further build my digital presence here.

As our interactions move increasingly online, it becomes important for us to evaluate our networks and filter our feeds with reputation and diffuse reciprocity in mind. Essentially, if we want to build a strong personal learning network, we need to be mindful of who and what is occupying our time. For as Idowu Koyenikan said, Where your attention goes, time goes.” Finally, by ignoring the practice of critical consumption (to figure out the credibility of content online) we risk making decisions that can have huge consequences for “the cognitive, social, and cultural environments of the 21st century” (Rheingold, H. 2010, para 29).

My Reflection

Through the creation of a network map, I can gain greater network awareness, as it is possible to display a wide-range of complex systems in a visual way. Thanks to Kumu, this visual reveals that my LinkedIn network comprises of communities that were not thoughtfully constructed. Going forward, as I construct my digital identity and continue to grow my digital presence,  I will keep in mind the five social media literacies of attention, participation, cooperation, network awareness, and critical consumption.

References:

Statista (n.d.). Number of social media users worldwide. Statista. Retrieved on April 29 from: https://www.statista.com/statistics/278414/number-of-worldwide-social-network-users/

Rheingold, H. (2010). Attention, and other 21st-century social media literaciesEducause Review, 45(5), 14.