I was reading this excellent post about groups and networks and I started to think about if groups filter access to networks. I think that all of the readings this week (at least how I understand them) point to groups being a restricted entity. In other words, there are definite boundaries to a group, access is controlled, there is an accepted language and other norms, etc.
On the other hand, networks are an ad hoc, fluid connection of autonomous individuals. But can a person’s membership in a group potentially prevent him or her from seeing a beneficial network?
In my last post I talked about group styles, or signatures. This signature includes expected behaviors, language used, clothing worn, beliefs, etc. New group members are included (or excluded) based on their knowledge and use of the group signature.
Maybe part of a group’s signature is to create barriers to the information seeking behavior that would allow individual group members to connect to different networks. I found a paper that I may rework and post about “information imposters”. Here’s the definition of an information imposter from Dr. Chatman’s class notes:
Information impostors are persons within a small group that give the illusion of having knowledge. They jam the information social system with their own psuedo-information, shutting down the information seeking process. In effect, they claim to have given all the information that is necessary, telling members of the small world that they do not need to seek for any more information.
Sounds familiar to anyone following the US elections I bet. 🙂 Is it possible for a group to have information impostors that purposely obfuscate connections to an outside network?
So individuals are in groups, and groups expect certain behavior from their members. In some cases groups obscure pathways to certain types of information. Individuals can connect to networks, but only if their information-seeking behavior is not blocked by the behavior they are expected to show to remain a member of their group.
In other words, groups can filter access to networks.