The Birth of Social Media Methods

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Keynote by Noortje Marres, Goldsmiths at the Digital Methods Summer School 2013

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The Birth of Social Media Methods

  1. 1. WCIT12 BROADEN CALL DISCUSSION NEWWORLDORDER NWO TIME UP WAKE FUCK DIPLOMACY DUBAI FREEANDOPEN GOOGLE CITIZEN EDIPLOMACY ENGAGEMENT FACEBOOK GLOBAL GOVERNMENT US NEWWORLDORDE BR BRU CENSURA ICT4D WEBREPUTATION WEB ONU GLOBALTELECOMMUNICATIONS TELECOMS NEWWWWORDER NEWWWW GENEVA ICANN The birth of social media methods DMI Summerschool, University of Amsterdam July 1 2013 Noortje Marres, Goldsmiths
  2. 2. 1. A ‘problem of method’ in social media research 2. What is social about social media? 3. Detecting the social (empirically) This talk
  3. 3. Social media are both: - a social phenomenon in their own right - a source of data about social life 1. An ambiguity in social media research
  4. 4. [Social media] studies : social media as object of research Social [media] research : social media as site/means of analysis It is both necessary to a) establish the difference b) recognise the precarity & instability of the distinction Bruns & Stiglitz (2012)
  5. 5. Problem of method in social media research: Two partly contradictory constraints: - Different aims require different methods - It is not always possible to neatly distinguish object and instrument in social media research Two different objectives in social media research: 1. to expose relevant features, dynamics, aspects of the medium 2. to gain empirical access to phenomena that do not coincide with it
  6. 6. To address this problem, we have to ask again: what is social about social media? Dictum “Just because it’s called social, doesn’t make it social!” Emma Uprichard, about working with mathematicians on modelling social data
  7. 7. 2. What is social about social media?
  8. 8. What counts as ‘social’ depends on the formal features of digital architectures social media as what allows the creation and exchange of user-generated content (Kaplan & Haenlein, 2010) a. platform features Example: Twitter’s following, re-tweets and @replies Problem: platform studies risk to equate the logics of the medium and the logics of the social
  9. 9. sociologists tend to locate the promise of social media for social research here b. content Example: researching London’s Shuffle wars Problem: social media never just disclose a social phenomenon; there are significant formatting effects (recommendation culture)
  10. 10. c. context Example: Daniel Miller on Facebook/Instagram/.. in Trinidad Problem: Social methods are disconnected from media-based methods The social refers to the settings - the larger whole - inside which social media practices take place
  11. 11. examples: friends, mentions, likes, followers ...anything metricizable problem: same as content; + a highly formatted definition of the social, risks reducing the social to performance indicators d. social (meta-)data
  12. 12. Example: Mapping ego-networks with Facebook Problem: collapses methods of the medium and social methods Question: what is the relation between methods-of-the medium and our own research methods? e. method Methods inform sociality in social media the social as network; the social as matching profile attributes
  13. 13. f. All of the above? Multiple entities participate in the enactment of sociality in/with social media? The same applies to social [media] research?
  14. 14. A different starting point: the "social" is not necessarily already accomplished in social media. The social is at stake in social media. 3. Detecting the Social What makes social media "social" is in part an empirical question (not just a question of theory) The answer is likely to be different in different cases
  15. 15. Associational Profiling with Erik Borra, Carolin Gerlitz, Bernhard Rieder, Esther Weltevrede
  16. 16. Mapping WCIT2012/Profiling WCIT
  17. 17. a. query design - Top hashtags according to Twitter - Top issues according to respondents What makes a profile ‘social’?
  18. 18. Mapping WCIT2012/Profiling WCIT
  19. 19. Mapping WCIT2012/Profiling DPI
  20. 20. b. indicators of ‘sociality’ - User diversity? - para-institutional language? #behindcloseddoors; #becauseilikethat  - transdiscursivity (actors and issues crossing domain boundaries)
  21. 21. Mapping WCIT2012/Profiling privacy
  22. 22. c. units of analysis Whole platform: biases analysis towards the detection of media effects? To get to the social: it could help to demarcate the analytic object differently (users, issues, devices)?
  23. 23. WCIT12 BROADEN CALL DISCUSSION NEWWORLDORDER NWO TIME UP WAKE FUCK DIPLOMACY DUBAI FREEANDOPEN GOOGLE CITIZEN EDIPLOMACY ENGAGEMENT FACEBOOK GLOBAL GOVERNMENT US NEWWORLDORDE BR BRU CENSURA ICT4D WEBREPUTATION WEB ONU GLOBALTELECOMMUNICATIONS TELECOMS NEWWWWORDER NEWWWW GENEVA ICANN what follows for [social] [media] research: researching the social (with media) vs researching (social) media as a difference of degree: they require different ways of aligning platform, data, context, technique, visualisation, etc... Conclusion (1)
  24. 24. WCIT12 BROADEN CALL DISCUSSION NEWWORLDORDER NWO TIME UP WAKE FUCK DIPLOMACY DUBAI FREEANDOPEN GOOGLE CITIZEN EDIPLOMACY ENGAGEMENT FACEBOOK GLOBAL GOVERNMENT US NEWWORLDORDE BR BRU CENSURA ICT4D WEBREPUTATION WEB ONU GLOBALTELECOMMUNICATIONS TELECOMS NEWWWWORDER NEWWWW GENEVA ICANN Conclusion (2) - social media methods as modular methods: they involve the flexible adjustment of platform, measure, data, context, question, visualization. - social media methods must be adjustable: they aren’t new methods, they are a distinctive type of method-assemblies
  25. 25. Thank you n.marres@gold.ac.uk

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