Facebook is for bonding, Twitter is for bridging: contextualizing social media involvement as help-seeking behavior
This paradigmatic shift, referred to as Web 2.0, spread beyond the confines of the internet, resulting in increased sharing (porousness) beyond previous institutional or cultural boundaries and flattened layers of hierarchy between those in power and those overseen by power structures.
Previous to Web 2.0, academic institutions were strongest for their role in society as trans-generational keepers and generators of knowledge, resilient to trends of cultural change. In the new paradigm, change itself is a commodity and academic institutions' inability to quickly adapt is a liability for their long-term survival. The revolution through which the institution of journalism is just emerging is just beginning to impact academia. In the coming years, the shape of knowledge-generating sectors of society, once simply known as universities, will depend on leaders that can integrate the historic cannon with the porous and flattened structure of a post-Web 2.0 world.
The technology-enabled, socially-integrated world offers public health researchers and practitioners many advantages, especially since mobile connectivity expanded to handheld mobile phones. The financial costs of reaching populations is greatly reduced by overcoming geographic distances with mobile penetration. Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, now has a majority of countries with populations whose mobile phone market is at the level of virtual total penetration. Virtual total penetration is reached when more than half of potential mobile phone owners have a mobile phone. The remaining 0-50% can access a phone through family or neighbors--an act made more feasible by cultural perceptions of collective, as opposed to individual ownership. In Rwanda, for exmaple, each village--on average, 200 people, is assigned a mobile phone-carrying health worker whose job it is to ensure everyone has access to a mobile phone.
Predating networks in their now-online ussage, social network theory offers a foundation for cannonical integration between traditional best practices and emerging opportunities for engagement and intervention. The foundational behavioral attribute of public health, help-seeking behavior, can be understood in social network theory as interactions between types of connections people represent in an increasingly integrated, flatter, porous social fabric.