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John Connell

What do we call it if Scoble's been thrown out of it? :)


I don't think we have archetypes at all. I think the people who got the definition game right did it long before either Jung or Wittgenstein--and they were David Hume, and Bishop Berkeley before him.

Their argument basically went like this: when you think of the word "Dog", you don't have some generalized abstract representation in mind. In fact, you have some very specific examples that you have just chosen to put under the category of "Dog".

Attempting to define a word is pointless, because words are basically like a Set in mathematics--it isn't about the name, it's about what you put in it.

Communication occurs not because we use precise definitions, but because we are able to draw upon common experiences. So in a debate over Social Networks, if people start bringing in erroneous examples, all you have to do is say "no no, I'm not talking about chat rooms, blogs, or message boards--I'm talking about places like MySpace, LinkedIn, and Facebook." Words have no essential definitions--but clarification is both helpful and easy, if you don't overcomplicate matters needlessly.


D'oh, you actually mentioned set theory and I missed it before using the phrase "like a set in mathematics". Please forgive me, I have what we doctors like to call "stupidity".


No need to apologise Adam, the distinction you make between exemplars and archetypes is correct. Sometimes we operate to an idealised example, which doesn't actually exist, and sometimes we operate with examples of actual set members. Or maybe it's both. The point is essentially the same - and you put it well, we know what we're talking about and don't need to get too bogged down in definition.


Martin says "there is no strict cut off for when someone is tall". Thousands of head-meets-doorway moments might suggest otherwise ;-)


I think O'Reilly's definition of Web 2.0 might also be a useful example. Web 2.0 isn't a "thing" but a centre of gravity and plotting applications around it shows how close they are to that centre - thus the boundary of what is in our "Web 2.0 system" can be drawn to include or exclude items of interest for further investigation. Are social networks and virtual communities synonymous? If they might be - and some days I'd suggest they are - we might think of Wikipedia as a social networking tool with some folk more active and others simply "observing" (by using the information posted).

Tim Davies

This is a really useful set of reflections and comments. Offers me a route of escape from the last three hours musing on ways to draw a usable definition of SNS.

Thanks :)

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