Occurrence of the term "Social Objects" is increasing a lot in recently. Jaiku Founder, Jyri Engstrom's who first published idea on the subject of "Social Objects" has a nice synopsis inspired by Karin Knorr Cetina (One of the best presentation read in a long time).
So what are these social objects ?? McLeoad definition is the following :
The Social Object, in a nutshell, is the reason two people are talking to each other, as opposed to talking to somebody else. Human beings are social animals. We like to socialize. But if think about it, there needs to be a reason for it to happen in the first place. That reason, that "node" in the social network, is what we call the Social Object.
U.[lik] like Flickr, Wordie, Librarything, watzatsong ...etc are all networks build on social objects. They are about content with people inside. I do believe they will have the lion share of social activities in the future because people will be able to aggregate them (but that's another story). Our socialization patterns are changing at an incredible pace and here are two idea and two excellent drawings that show the importance of social objects that can even be seen in evolution of the marital matches (using meetic or any other social places because social is also dating and sex)
So what drives modern marriage? We believe that the answer lies in a shift from the family as a forum for shared production, to shared consumption. In case the language of economic lacks romance, let’s be clearer: modern marriage is about love and companionship. Most things in life are simply better shared with another person: this ranges from the simple pleasures such as enjoying a movie or a hobby together, to shared social ties such as attending the same church, and finally, to the joint project of bringing up children. Returning to the language of economics, the key today is consumption complementarities-activities that are not only enjoyable, but are more enjoyable when shared with a spouse. We call this new model of sharing our lives “hedonic marriage”.
Mc Leaod has some interesting thoughts on this new social matching if we take them on a very shallow level (it made me laugh at loud ;-D). Social Markers are a prime form of social shorthand, that people use to STAKE OUT the ecosystem they're occupying.
This is a nice piece on friendship: friending ancient or otherwise ?
“With social networks, there’s a fascination with intimacy because it simulates face-to-face communication,” Dr. Wesch says. “But there’s also this fundamental distance. That distance makes it safe for people to connect through weak ties where they can have the appearance of a connection because it’s safe.”
And while tribal cultures typically engage in highly formalized rituals, social networks seem to encourage a level of casualness and familiarity that would be unthinkable in traditional oral cultures. “Secondary orality has a leveling effect,” Dr. Strate says. “In a primary oral culture, you would probably refer to me as ‘Dr. Strate,’ but on MySpace, everyone calls me ‘Lance.’ ”
And if you can read french I also advice that you take a look at this article about tribal rituals.