One of the critical questions surrounding the use and value of social media like Facebook and Twitter is whether they strengthen or undermine “real” community.
The most common measure of community strength is known as “social capital,” a term popularized by Robert Putnam in his book Bowling Alone, which tracks the alarming decline of social capital among American communities. (A trend, by the way, that began long before the rise of social media.)
The central premise of social capital is that social networks have value. "Social capital refers to "the collective value of all 'social networks' [who people know] and the inclinations that arise from these networks to do things for each other [norms of reciprocity]." - from bowlingalone.com
This week I sat down with David Crowley, the founder of Social Capital, Inc, which is based in my hometown of Woburn.
David is an expert in the field of social capital. He is also an avid social media user (Twitter, Social Capital blog, Cooking Chat blog). I asked David whether or not social media is capable of building social capital. As you can probably guess, he does. Here’s what I learned: