Is Couchsurfing.com an Actual SNS?

On: October 4, 2008
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About Dorris de Heij
I finished my Bachlor in Information science last year and am now a student at the New Media Master.

Website
http://www.dorrisnewmedia.blogspot.com    
In her research paper “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship”, Danah Boyd makes explicit what the features of a social network are and what their purpose is. I decided to check if these features are present in the couchsurfing community to see if this is a real SNS (social network site) or a kind of hotelbooking website. The characteristics a SNS should include, according to Boyd, are things like the website must: “Allow individuals to (1) construct a public or semi-public profile within a bounded system, (2) articulate a list of other users with whom they share a connection, and (3) view and traverse their list of connections and those made by others within the system.”

These features can all be found in the couchsurfing community. You have to make a profile, preferably with a picture, you can see which users are your friends and what kind of a relationship you’re involved in and you can see their relationships as well. You can leave messages for eachother and see some personal information about your friends and about your friends’ friends. So from this definition couchsurfing definitely is a Social Network Site.
In her essay Boyd actually mentions couchsurfing as a YASNS: “Yet Another Social Networking Service.” (a qoute from Clay Shirky). So she certainly thinks it is a Social Network Site. But does the site act up to other features she decribes? Boyd argues the term Network in “Social Network Sites” is preferred over “Networking” because: “”Networking” emphasizes relationship initiation, often between strangers. While networking is possible on these sites, it is not the primary practice on many of them, nor is it what differentiates them from other forms of computer-mediated communication (CMC).” Maybe here is the difference from most communitysites and couchsurfing, as couchsurfing is especially to meet strangers and use this network to find a place to sleep. It is not as she says to meet people you already know but especially to meet people you dón’t already know and aren’t in your (extended) social network already. But, you cán make friends after you have met them in real life and see their friends and they can see yours, so this makes it a bit confusing, after meeting people this site does work as a SNS. You just have to go through a bit more trouble finding friends since you don’t know them yet. On the other hand, maybe this is just a website to take advantage of eachother, trying to sleep for free in the city you’re visiting. This would make it more of a market place or hotel booking website. The slogan of the site would implie different though: ” “CouchSurfing seeks to internationally network people and places, create educational exchanges, raise collective consciousness, spread tolerance and facilitate cultural understanding. As a community we strive to do our individual and collective parts to make the world a better place, and we believe that the surfing of couches is a means to accomplish this goal.”

So maybe between Network sites and Networking sites there is another genre which is in between of a dating site, a Networking site and a Network site. Where people can meet, not just for love or friendship but also for new experiences and of course for accomodation. You can meet friends here without the intention of seeking for a new friend and you can check out these new friends and their networks. You can see links and relationships between other couchsurfers while your goal is to find a place to stay.

Boyd, D. M., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.html

2 Responses to “Is Couchsurfing.com an Actual SNS?”
  • October 5, 2008 at 8:05 pm

    […] of allot of SNSs could be defined as making new social ties, for instance Couchsurfing.com as Dorris’ blog on Couchsurfing.com shows. Furthermore I also think that the theoretical difference between a […]

  • October 15, 2010 at 10:59 pm

    hello my dear how are today i hope that you are doing fine , how about your family members such as your father , mother , sister and brothers
    i just want know how you doing and i belive that you are doing fine and ok i like to see you any time that you are free ok
    or you can call me with my phone number ok my i will stop here for now ok am waiting for your reply soon,
    baby just take good care of yourself for me ok .
    i care for you and
    i love you so much baby
    bye for now,

    …………………………………
    bonjour ma chère comment Aujourd’hui, j’espère que vous faites bien, que diriez-vous les membres de votre famille, comme votre père, mère, soeur et ses frères
    je veux juste savoir comment vous faites et belive i que vous faites i fine et ok vous voir chaque fois que vous êtes libre ok
    ou vous pouvez m’appeler à mon numéro de téléphone ok mes je vais m’arrêter là pour le moment ok suis en attente de votre réponse bientôt,
    bébé prend simplement soin de vous-même pour moi ok.
    i les soins pour vous et
    i love you baby tellement
    à bientôt,

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