Fred Stutzman‘s presentation (Social Technologies and Ongoing Relationship Management) was the first student seminar I attended this afternoon. He is doing his research on friend management and social networks – with a focus on transitions, e.g. between high school and college or college and the workplace. It is a very topical issue. Fred (who has created and other projects) is interested in digital identity, but also in online social networks, and that’s part of what led him into the research. He started studying Facebook in 2005 (although they recently stopped him and other researchers from using data in a particular way – a real pity, in my view) but has moved on to looking at things like impression formation and the consideration of transition periods / migrating to the next period of life.

There are a number of technologies involved – IM, in particular, was mentioned, and I certainly agree. One of Fred’s questions was whether he should focus on one particular technology/application/system/tool, or broaden it out. He spoke at some length about the connection between adoption or use, citing the example of students who go to college together when email adoption is widespread, and continue to use email as a significant form of communication even when ‘younger’ generations have shifted to other tools.

Earlier, Judith Donath (MIT) and John Clippinger (Harvard) spoke about digital identity in general. It was a difficult enough topic, with a complicated (but rewarding) reading (Donath’s well-known Identity and Deception piece, a classic in the field). More on that a bit later.