First Monday, Volume 5, Number 5 - 1 May 2000

It's not what you know it's who you know

Bonnie A. Nardi, Steve Whittaker, Heinrich Schwarz

Abstract


We discuss our ethnographic research on personal social networks in the workplace, arguing that traditional institutional resources are being replaced by resources that workers mine from their own networks. Social networks are key sources of labor and information in a rapidly transforming economy characterized by less institutional stability and fewer reliable corporate resources. The personal social network is fast becoming the only sensible alternative to the traditional "org chart" for many everyday transactions in today's economy.