Incidental Information Seekingon Facebook: Social Capitaland Information BehaviorCliff LampeUniversity of Michigan - School of InformationNovember 4, 2011[Supported by the National Science Foundation #0916019]
Social CapitalFacebook helps people maintain the relationshipsthat lead to social capital.
Social Capital Social capital describes the ability of individuals or groups to access resources from their social network “investment in social relations with expected returns in the marketplace” (Lin, 2001) “connections among individuals - social networks and the norms of reciprocity and trustworthiness that arise from them” (Putnam, 2000) A benefit from position in a network that can be converted into other forms of capital (Resnick, 2001)
Social Capital Bridging and bonding (Putnam 2000) Online vs. offline (Williams 2006) More likely a continuum than a binary
Bridging Social Capital Flickr: Arlington County
Bridging social capital describes the informational benefits typically associated with “weak ties” (Granovetter, 1982), loose connections who may provide useful, non- redundant information or diverse worldviews Bridging ties (across two networks) facilitate information diffusion (Burt, ‘92) Flickr: Jeslee Cuizon
Connect on Facebook Engage in interaction Build Social Capital
Connect on Facebook Engage in interaction Build Convert Social Capital Social capital
Connect on FacebookPeople mostly connect to those theyknow offline (Lampe et al., 2006; Lampe et al., 2008)The tools of Facebook reduce transactioncosts of maintaining a large network (Lampe et al., 2007)
Engage in Interaction “Actual” Friends more important than total Friends (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2011) Facebook users have large networks but only interact with few of their Friends (Facebook Data Team, 2009; Golder et al., 2007) Directed communication with individual Friends lead to social capital gains, but not passive consumption or broadcasting (Burke, Kraut, & Marlow, 2011) News Feed algorithm (which is unknown) determines visibility of Friends’ content
Build Social Capital Facebook use is associated with bridging and bonding social capital (Ellison et al., 2007; Steinfield et al., 2008, Valanzuela, 2009; Burke et al., 2010; Burke et al., 2011; Ellison et al., 2011)
Build Social Capital Facebook’s social & technical affordances: Enable users to broadcast and respond to requests for information, advice, and recommendations Support maintenance of larger network of weak (and strong) ties Facilitate socially relevant interactions with latent ties (ties that are technically possible but not yet socially activated – Haythornthwaite, 2005)
Convert social capital Organize “quotidian” tasks (Wohn et al., 2011) Classroom organizing (Lampe et al., 2011) Political expression (Vitak et al., 2011) Knowledge management (Steinfield et al., 2009)
Flickr: Dimitri N.Requests for resourcesSocial capital in action
To what extent are people seekingresources through Facebook?
Social Q&AMany questions on Twitter are rhetorical (Paul et al., 2011)People in an organization posted requests forrecommendations, opinions, favors, and factualknowledge. (Morris et al., 2010)“Culture” affect the types of things people look for. (Yang et al., 2011)
StudyData collected Fall, 2010 and Spring, 2011 Sample of non-academic MSU staff N=666 (including 134 [22%] non-Facebook users) 66% female Average 45 years old44% college graduates, 32% post-graduate trainingMulti-method approach
Data collection Survey Instrument [today’s talk] n=614, 29% RR Facebook network data via Facebook app, Hogan’s NameGenWeb (N=238) “Favor” request to activate network potential on Facebook Capture example of question-asking from participant’s News Feed with short survey about responders
Dependent Variables Likelihood to use Facebook for Information Seeking Perceived value of Facebook as a source of information
Independent variablesDemographicsFB AppropriatenessFB minutes per dayFB Total Friends AND Actual FriendsFacebook Bridging Social CapitalSignals of Relational Investment
Total vs. Actual Friends “Approximately how many TOTAL Facebook friends do you have at [university] or elsewhere?” “Approximately how many of your TOTAL Facebook friends do you consider actual friends?” From 2008 undergraduate dataset: Median total Friends: 300; “actual” friends: 75 (25%) 2010-2011 adult dataset: Median total Friends: 130; “actual” friends: 40 (~30%)
Signals of RelationalInvestment (SRI) Behaviors such as explicitly responding to Friends’ questions are productive because they: Create an expectation about reciprocal behavior: “expected returns in the marketplace” (Lin, 2001) Perform a social grooming function (Dunbar, 1996; Donath, 2007; Tufekci, 2008) and signal attention Potentially train the News Feed Comments on Friends’ updates and Wall posts are seen by the Friends’ network, not your own (until recent UI change)
Some conclusions from thisstudyPeople didn’t see themselves that likely to do this“Norms” and motivations to use the site mattered
Issues of InformationWhat is a question anyway?
QuestionsWhat librarians havealways known aboutquestions Not always accurate Often embeds multiple agendas Not always framed as a question It is costly to search
What’s the differencebetween a question andother resource requests?
What are the characteristicsof the (user/question) thatmake it appear on Facebookas opposed to a searchengine?
Are there ways to make thesite more useful for infoseekers?
Next stepsContinue analyzing data from Spring studyWorking with Facebook to learn: Prevalence of resource requests Satisfaction with responses User variables that affect request behaviors What about “passive information collection” vs. info seeking?