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A Study of New Communication Technologies and Civic Engagement : A Time to Reconceptualize the Research Constructs?
Unformatted Document Text:  18 potentially greater if we can reach more people, that is, if majority of people are connected via the same network (or if networks are interconnected). Because we live in globally interconnected society and because the marginal cost of communication has been constantly falling, the potential for improving our stock of social capital is at its historical peaks with this positive trend being likely to continue in future. According to the proposed network model, our electronic social capital has four dimensions: • Type of access to network (capacity, transfer rate of information) • Number of connections (No of nodes in our network) • Quality of connections (weak or strong ties) • Importance/power of a node or hub (who are the people we communicate with?) This concept can easily be further operationalized allowing relatively accurate measurement of online social capital that can be directly used to evaluate the impact of communication technologies on our social connectedness. This model does not imply, however, that having a telephone or Internet connection will not instantly turn us into social capitalists, as for that to happen we firstly need to know how to reach someone and communicate with him/her. Generally, we can do this by using yellow pages (or online directories), by dialing a random number (or visiting a random web site) or simply by using our memory or our phone/e-mail address book. Obviously, this is a critical issue as most of us have access to yellow pages and directories, but we differ greatly in the number, quality and importance of contacts we have stored in our mental, paper-based and virtual phone/address books. Presumably, a

Authors: Skoric, Marko.
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potentially greater if we can reach more people, that is, if majority of people are
connected via the same network (or if networks are interconnected). Because we live in
globally interconnected society and because the marginal cost of communication has
been constantly falling, the potential for improving our stock of social capital is at its
historical peaks with this positive trend being likely to continue in future. According to
the proposed network model, our electronic social capital has four dimensions:
Type of access to network (capacity, transfer rate of information)
Number of connections (No of nodes in our network)
Quality of connections (weak or strong ties)
Importance/power of a node or hub (who are the people we communicate
with?)
This concept can easily be further operationalized allowing relatively accurate
measurement of online social capital that can be directly used to evaluate the impact of
communication technologies on our social connectedness.
This model does not imply, however, that having a telephone or Internet
connection will not instantly turn us into social capitalists, as for that to happen we firstly
need to know how to reach someone and communicate with him/her. Generally, we can
do this by using yellow pages (or online directories), by dialing a random number (or
visiting a random web site) or simply by using our memory or our phone/e-mail address
book. Obviously, this is a critical issue as most of us have access to yellow pages and
directories, but we differ greatly in the number, quality and importance of contacts we
have stored in our mental, paper-based and virtual phone/address books. Presumably, a


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