Sunday, March 2, 2008

Naming the social compenent

I've previously argued that what we call "social networking" comprises (at least) two major parts: A graph of network connections, with access control, and a social aspect, through which people identify themselves as belonging to various groups. Here are some possible names for the social aspect:
  • Social Aspect or Social Component: Why not? Not snappy, but descriptive.
  • Totem: Earl suggests this in a comment. Webster's defines it as an entity that watches over or assists a group of people. The term has spiritual origins, but so do daemon and avatar, for example.
  • Brand: If totem has more purely human connotations, brand is more purely commercial (notwithstanding that commerce is a very human activity). The term is already in use; commercial sites care very much about their brands.
There probably isn't any one correct term, and if there is one, it may not be any of the above. I can't think of many cases where someone would say "X is my brand", but on the other hand business people use the term freely and appropriately. For that matter, I'm not sure I can see people saying "X is my totem," but you never know what might catch on.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The meaning I was after, and which one definition of "totem" seemed to fill, was "emblem of a clan or group," quite unlike "daemon" or "avatar." Anthropologists use "Moiety" to denote a division of a group, but that's not quite it either. I'm convinced there's a perfectly good word for this out there which we've so far failed to apprehend.