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No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please
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No more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please

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User representations of different social media platforms and their integration in everyday relational patterns. …

User representations of different social media platforms and their integration in everyday relational patterns.

Presented at ECREA 2012, Istanbul, october 2012

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  • 1. ECREA IstanbulNo more birthday greetings on my Facebook wall, please.User representations of different social media platforms and theirintegration in everyday relational patternsFrancesca Comunello e Simone Mulargia 26-10-2012 Pagina 1
  • 2. Overview- Background: networked sociability and me-centred networks; ecological approach to everyday relational patterns- Our research project: main purposes, method and research questions- Main results and discussion- Limitations and further research directions- Conclusions 26-10-2012 Pagina 2
  • 3. BackgroundThe conceptual framework we are following relies on a wide range of theories covering digital technology, social relations, and participatory cultures, with a main focus on Wellmans and Castells understanding of Networked Individualism and Networked Sociability.“The culture of individualism does not lead to isolation, but it changes the patterns of sociability in terms of increasingly selective and self directed contacts. […]The critical matter is not technology, but the development of networks of sociability based on choice and affinity, breaking the organizational and spatial boundaries of relationships […]. Networked sociability leads both to an individual-centered network, specific to the individual, and to peer-group formation, when the network becomes the context of behavior for its participants”. (Castells, Fernandez-Ardevol, Linchuan Qiu, and Sey. 2007, pp. 143-144). 26-10-2012 Pagina 3
  • 4. Background (2)“Networked individuals […] use a panoply of gadgets and applications to orchestrate their lives. Theirs is a complicated dance through the networked operating system. They use email for certain kinds of networked communication; text messaging, Facebook posts, private Facebook messages, and Twitter posts for others; and phone calls for communication that requires more extensive conversation. Today individuals have more communications options than ever, and that means they have to work harder to figure out which gadget or internet application to use for which kinds of activities.” (Rainie and Wellman 2012, p. 146). 26-10-2012 Pagina 4
  • 5. Background (3)Existing literature on technology-mediated social relations, and especially on social network sites (SNS), has mainly adopted a platform-centric approach. For a better understanding of technology- supported social relations, however, an accurate knowledge of specific platforms should be integrated with an ecological perspective (see Jenkins et al., 2009).Each digitally-mediated platform offers specific affordances that contribute to the construction of unique communication environments.The phenomena which need to be addressed are wider than SNS, and include the wide variety of ways in which people are linked to each other. 26-10-2012 Pagina 5
  • 6. Background (4) Media ideologies: people’s beliefs about how a medium communicates and structures communication […]. “Media ideologies are not true or false. An e-mail conversation is not, in its essence, more formal than an instant-message conversation […] but some people believe that e- mail is more formal, more dishonest, and more calculated, and this affects the ways they send and interpret e-mail messages” (Gershon 2010, pag. 21).Idioms of practice: “people figure out together how to use different media and often agree on the appropriate social uses of technology by asking advice and sharing stories with each other” (Gershon 2010, p. 6). 26-10-2012 Pagina 6
  • 7. Our research projectAdopting an ecological approach, our research focuses on the (networked) individual and on his/her social relations, considering the whole spectrum of platforms where he/she interacts with others, managing relational patterns and identity performances.Following this perspective, we can also underline specific media “ideologies” people follow when selecting the platforms where to pursue specific purposes, with regard to different contexts and interlocutors (close friends, family, acquaintances, colleagues, etc.).We have chosen a set of qualitative methods, realizing 4 focus groups and 20 in-depth interviews with young Italian people (age 18-26), that took place in Rome (December 2011-February 2012).In this presentation we will focus on the main results of the 4 focus groups that have involved 32 Italian high school students (age 18-20). 26-10-2012 Pagina 7
  • 8. Research questionsDo young people have a precise representation (ideology) of the peculiarities of different digital platforms?Do they perceive some platform as more appropriated for specific tasks, contexts, relational patterns?Considering a specific platform (e.g. Facebook) are there communicative practices (tools, actions, etc.) that are perceived as more intimate than others?What are the motivations for such perceived differences? 26-10-2012 Pagina 8
  • 9. StimuliWe offered a set of different scenarios, such as: •  The organization of a large party (asking how they are used to invite different type of people to the party). •  Birthday greetings (asking them the way different type of people – family, friends, acquaintances, schoolmates, etc. - have wished them “happy birthday” during the last year). •  Misunderstanding / Disagreement management (asking how they deal with such situations). •  Usage experiences, misunderstandings related to different media “ideologies”, appropriate and inappropriate usage patterns were also discussed. •  At first we did not directly mention any communication technology nor that we were specifically interested in mediated communication. 26-10-2012 Pagina 9
  • 10. Main results: a shared media ideologyOur respondants share a nuanced representation of the peculiarities of different communication environments. For instance, all of them tribute a low value to birthday greetings on the Facebook wall (which can be accepted only by acquaintances).Greta: “I’ve checked my birthday greetings, just out of curiosity, and I put aside those on my Facebook wall. […] When you see the birthday alert sometimes you feel you have to write just to do so… I’m there and I must wish happy birthday, those greetings have no value at all. Those I received were by phone or face-to-face, stop. I completely put aside the others.”Pietro: I agree with Greta, I hate greetings on FB. I personally don’t do them; I see those I receive because they are on my wall but I totally disregard them. Close friends face-to-face, hugs and kisses, relatives with a phone call.”Fabiana: I confess I wish happy birthday on FB, but only to specific people, I would never do something like that to my best friend. 26-10-2012 Pagina 10
  • 11. Main results: a shared media ideology (2)In broader terms, many of our respondents show a critical distance towards Facebook and other CMC envirorments, underlining that they prefer face-to-face contact to interact with closer ties or to manage misunderstandings.This statements could also be related to the context where the focus groups took place (school) or to broader social desirability considerations.Interestingly, when it comes to close friends (with whom a wide variety of communication platforms is used, and a large set of online and offline experience is shared), the limitations of the platform can be overcome.Daniele: “I perceive distance more in internal than in external terms, it depends on the person. If I feel very close to the person that sends me a message, even if the message is a bit cold, like a social net message, I perceive it in a different way. Or I perceive it as warmer than a face-to-face message by someone I don’t like that much.” 26-10-2012 Pagina 11
  • 12. Main results: platform appropriateness for specifictasks or relational patternsRespondents have a shared understanding of platform appropriateness for specific tasks, contexts and relational patterns.Veronica: “If it’s a close friend, someone I care about, I use the cellphone to wish her happy birthday, I text or I directly call her; if I happen to be on Facebook I may also use it in addition, but if she is a close friend I prefer calling or texting.”Milena: “It depends on the person. If it’s a close friend I wish her happy birthday in person, if I can’t I call her, I really need to call her. If they are acquaintances with whom I don’t have…message.”Giada: “I don’t use FB, MSN, WhatsApp almost at all; I only use them to arrange plans with my friends.” 26-10-2012 Pagina 12
  • 13. Main results: not all the Facebook postings are equalRespondents distinguish between different features of a single platform, e.g Facebook: they agree that, for instance, private messages are “more appropriate” (for interacting with close friends, for addressing intimate topics) than wall posts.Tiziano: “Many on my FB wall (referring to birthday greetings) and some private messages by closer friends that couldn’t send me an SMS.”Elena: “Yes, I prefer private messages, because the wall… you know you just see the “today’s birthdays” button, and you just go there and write […] private messages are more intimate, more personal.” 26-10-2012 Pagina 13
  • 14. Main results: Why is a SMS “better” than a wallpost? Why do our respondents tribute a different value to different communication environments? 3 main elements:•  Effort (in terms of money and/or time spent).•  Cognitive effort (using specific platforms requires different levels of cognitive effort, eg.: remembering a friend’s birthday on FB/without FB’s help).•  Perceived intimacy and expected attention (how will others receive the message? How are they likely to evaluate it?).Fabiana: “I’ve noticed that some people, such as normal acquaintances, and simple friends have used FB. This is something I don’t get, because at least once, how much does a sms cost? 15 cents…On FB you just see the notification, it’s not spontaneous.”Matteo: “I’ve stayed awake till midnight to wish my best friend happy birthday. 26-10-2012 Pagina 14
  • 15. Facebook as a “communication dashboard”?The variety of platforms our respondents use for communicating with their contacts is not particularly high: they mainly use the cellphone (especially SMS) and Facebook, that is perceived as a ‘must have’, at least in their classroom context; IM systems are less widespread.Email is not a part of their everyday routines, and many of them don’t get the difference between “private messages” on FB (which they call “email”), and ordinary email: Valeria: “I don’t even know what it is… if I need to send an email I’ll open FB” (referring to “email outside FB”).Others say they do have an ordinary email just because there are people who don’t use FB.“Social networking sites have become the dashboards of the internet for networked individuals.” (Rainie and Wellman 2012, p. 139).“Facebook has become each person’s “go to” page: their home base.” (Rainie and Wellman 2012, p. 144). 26-10-2012 Pagina 15
  • 16. Limitations and further research directionOur focus group participants can be partially understood as members of homogeneous groups: as schoolmates, they share at least a part of their communication experience and they have alrealdy had the chance to negotiate their media representations and usage.Nevertheless, the University students we have interviewed share similar attitudes.Further research directions could involve less homogeneous participants, confronting them with others with whom they don’t share any previous experience.We could include, among our stimuli, more everyday scenarios.We could also interview people with different backgrounds (socio- demographic, cultural, different group/network affiliations).Combining media use diaries with in-depth interviews. 26-10-2012 Pagina 16
  • 17. ConclusionsYoung people both follow group-specific norms and more individualized usage patterns. All of our respondents, however, show to have a clear picture of what can be defined as an appropriate use of digital technology in relation to specific purposes, contexts, tie strength, etc.Even younger people seem to tribute a high emotional value to face-to-face interaction, often opposing a critical distance (at least in terms of self- representation) towards SNS. Digital technologies are strongly integrated in their everyday life and are generally used as a support or as an integration for offline relations.Shared usage norms appear as a dynamic and constantly negotiated process which varies not only among different groups, but also diachronically: what our respondents used to perceive as an appropriate behavior in the past (e.g. Birthday greetings on close friends Facebook walls) is no longer accepted as legitimate. Therefore, we can recognize that specific norms exist and are negotiated by users, but we cannot highlight stable and universally shared usage patterns. 26-10-2012 Pagina 17
  • 18. Thank you!francesca.comunello@uniroma1.it@fcomunsimone.mulargia@uniroma.it@Simo_twitt 26-10-2012 Pagina 18

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