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Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective

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This paper was delivered at the ISIC : The Information Behaviour Conference, 22 September 2016, University of Zadar, Croatia

Abstract
Introduction. The means by which individuals evaluate the personal reputations of others, and manage their own personal reputations, as determined by information shared on social media platforms, is investigated from an information science perspective. The paper is concerned with findings from a doctoral study that takes into account prior work on the building and assessment of reputations through citation practice, as explored in the domain of scientometrics.
Method. Following the practice of studies of everyday life information seeking (ELIS), a multi-step data collection process was implemented. In total forty-five participants kept diaries and took part in semi-structured interviews. In this paper fifteen of these participants are represented.
Analysis. A qualitative analysis of the data was undertaken using NVivo10 to consider the information practices of one of three age group cohort generations: Generation X.
Results. Results generated from this initial analysis show some clear alignments with established knowledge in the domain, as well as new themes to be explored further. Of particular note is that social media users are more interested in the content of the information that is shared on social media platforms than they are in the signals that this information might convey about the sharer(s). It is also rare for these users to consider the impact of information sharing on personal reputation building and evaluation.
Conclusion. The analysis of the full dataset will provide further insight on the specific theme of the role of online information in personal reputation management, and contribute to theory development related to the study of information seeking behaviour and use.

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Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective

  1. 1. Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective Presented by Frances VC Ryan 2016 ISIC: Information Seeking in Context Conference University of Zadar, Croatia Co-authors: Peter Cruickshank, Hazel Hall, and Alistair Lawson Edinburgh Napier University | Centre for Social Informatics
  2. 2. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com What’s the research about? How online information contributes to the building, maintenance, and evaluation of personal reputations ►Personal reputation: Private individuals, rather than corporate identity and brand
  3. 3. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Two broad research themes The means by which people evaluate or assess the personal reputations of others from the online evidence available to them How people manage their own personal reputations through their use of online information, and to what extent those behaviours are intentional
  4. 4. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com ►Facebook ►Twitter ►LinkedIn
  5. 5. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com The literature Personal reputation (Private and professional) InformationSocial media
  6. 6. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Research questions RQ1: How do individuals build identities for themselves online? RQ3: How do individuals evaluate the identities and reputations of others based on the online information available to them? RQ2: How do individuals use online information to build and manage their reputations? RQ4: To what extent do individuals actively practise identity and reputation building and evaluation online?
  7. 7. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com An overview of the data collection process
  8. 8. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com An overview of the data collection process
  9. 9. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Generation X subset ►Fifteen participants ► 13 females; 2 males ►Born 1965-1980 ► Average age: 41 ►Platforms used: ► Facebook: All ► Twitter: 12 ► LinkedIn: 10 ►Self-reported SNS use: ► 11 moderate; 4 heavy
  10. 10. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ1: How do individuals build identities for themselves online? ►Identity (or identities) are based on offline personas
  11. 11. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ1: How do individuals build identities for themselves online? ►Naming conventions ► No current anonymous accounts ► Pseudonyms are of greater interest ► Seen as “user names” or “nicknames” ► Point to the “offline” person “I like to have a consistent social media handle and I hate it when I can’t. [To me] it’s like a suite of information [about me]. … I like the idea of being consistent and being open about who I am.” (Gillian)
  12. 12. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ1: How do individuals build identities for themselves online? ►Social media use is an extension of everyday lives
  13. 13. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ2: How do individuals use online information to build and manage their reputations? ►Managing the blur between their private and professional lives “I'm not Facebook friends with any current colleagues … that’s what LinkedIn is for.” (Laura)
  14. 14. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ2: How do individuals use online information to build and manage their reputations? ►Undertaking some level of self-censorship “There’s certain information that I won’t share, or I’ll think twice about sharing publicly.” (Gillian)
  15. 15. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ3: How do individuals evaluate the identities and reputations of others based on the online information available to them? ►Difficult to convey or talk about evaluations ►Views in stark contrast to own = negative evaluation ►Frequency matters
  16. 16. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ3: How do individuals evaluate the identities and reputations of others based on the online information available to them? ►Conflicting views of anonymity and pseudonyms by others ► Not completely acceptable, even when it’s understood “If you haven’t used your real name, I’m not sure if I want to give credence to what you’re saying...” (Jacqueline)
  17. 17. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ3: How do individuals evaluate the identities and reputations of others based on the online information available to them? ►Having an offline connection provides a level of forgiveness or leniency “You personalise the information. It’s not just information … you have [an] emotional engagement to it.” (Sharon)
  18. 18. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com RQ4: To what extent do individuals actively practise identity and reputation building and evaluation online? ►Levels of intentional reputation management varies ► First concern is how information will be received ►The diary made them do it! ► Participation in the study prompted considerations of personal reputation management and evaluation
  19. 19. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Do the empirical study findings support those of the literature review? Social media users self-regulate their information sharing taking into account platform and audience Hiding information related to ‘offline’ identity through the use of anonymity or pseudonyms is less prevalent than reported in other studies Second-level connections (“friends of friends”) are not regarded as important to the evaluation of reputation as has been reported elsewhere
  20. 20. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com New contributions relate to awareness ►People build and evaluate identity and reputation on the basis of online information ► Even if unconsciously ►Overall levels of active identity and reputation building and evaluation using social media information vary ► On the whole, they are low ►Individuals rarely consider the impact of information sharing on personal reputation building and evaluation
  21. 21. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Next steps ►Detailed analysis of all 45 sets of participant data in progress ►Final stages of analysis to be completed by November 2016 ►Main thesis writing over winter 2016/17 ►Findings of full study will be shared in 2017
  22. 22. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Full text of paper available ►Full text available ► Conference proceedings ► Information Research (coming soon) ► From Frances after the presentation Ryan, F., Cruickshank, P., Hall, H., Lawson, A. (2017). Managing and evaluating personal reputations on the basis of information shared on social media: a Generation X perspective. Information Research. Copyright attributions: Bottom image on slide 8 (Generation X subset): Roy Cook Social networking icons: Iconfinder (iconfinder.com) Political signs and ISIC logo used under Fair Use concepts All other images: Frances Ryan
  23. 23. Frances Ryan | @cleverfrances | www.JustAPhD.com Thank you! f.ryan@napier.ac.uk @cleverfrances www.JustAPhD.com

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