A Case Study of Douban: Social Network Communities

Ho Kiu-Chor

Abstract

Established since 26th March of 2005, the social network service of "Douban.com" has accumulated 317,532 members by the 16th of November 2006.1 In a nation-wide survey “Web2.0 100 of China Internet Industry”, Douban is being rated as the 3rd largest service provider.

With the main features of web2.0 applications, Douban allows its users to contribute to the multiple-media cataloguing system and display their media consumption experiences. This has made it possible for the users to form ever-growing virtual communities within and across the national boundaries of China as well as the Greater China region.

This paper aims at exploring the socio-cultural impact of Douban's success and its implication on social networking web applications on Chinese communities. Based on individual users' interests in books, films, music and magazines, the large number of Chinese computer literate users are being connected on the Douban platform.Together they are contributing, sharing, displaying and forming interests groups on the basis of their respective media and cultural experiences. Despite their social differences, users from Hong Kong, mainland China, Taiwan, and all other parts of the world seem to find a space of commonality in Douban and are reconstructing the cultural meaning of their Chinese identities by by an autonomous process to realize an imagined Chinese community online.

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