Theorising Microsoft’s how-old.net Bot; is the internet now Mundane? What happens when things don’t work?

So I read a tweet from @NathanJurgenson earlier that got me thinking a lot about why it is that things that don’t work become popular, and what happens when things online stop working the way they are meant to. The tweet is below:

This immediately triggered a few thoughts for me; firstly, why is it that only things that don’t work become interesting, and secondly how do things become mundane online? The answer for this can be found by looking at Latour’s Actor-Network Theory. Continue reading

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Theorising the #KylieJennerChallenge, who is watching who?

In the last few days there has been an interesting and slightly bizarre trend sweeping over the internet; the #KylieJennerChallenge. But what does this trend say about celebrity culture, surveillance, and identity performance online?

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Facebook shouldn’t be conceptualised as a social space; it’s an agora.

Here’s an analogy that I’ve been playing with for quite a while. I’ve been trying to find the best way to describe Facebook that adequately sums up the experience; something that serves to capture the many varied aspects of the Facebook experience, and I think I’ve finally found the answer – Facebook is a modern Agora.

This may seem slightly odd, but it’s a metaphor that I’ve found useful when thinking about various Social Networking Sites, and I think it’s worth explaining and fleshing out.

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Online/Offline – Why it’s not a clear cut dichotomy any more….

A while ago I wrote about how there’s been a breakdown in the public/private dichotomy. This time I want to discuss another dichotomy, the online/offline dichotomy. If anything, this dichotomy is more pervasive than the public/private divide, and potentially more damaging for digital sociology, as it affects the ontological approaches we take to the digital medium.

Today, I give my take the online/offline divide. It’s a much discussed topic; a topic that has, and is, changing, and a topic that it seems there’s much disagreement on. Should we view them as separate realms? Should we contextualize the internet? How much do the two realms influence each other? Are the even two realms, or are there less? Or more?

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Facebook isn’t dying, it’s stagnating

In the last year there’s been a rather large shift in the air in Social Media. Facebook is no longer the ‘too big to fail’ site that once it may have seemed, and instead it is facing new and diverse competition from a number of interesting companies creating varied and compelling social spaces for interaction.

The inevitable and increasing diversity of social media platforms has led to many academics and media sources predicting a mass exodus of youths away Facebook, and towards other, ‘cooler’ platforms like SnapChat or Instagram. UCL’s prolific and inspiring Daniel Miller, for example, wrote a fantastic piece at the beginning of last year predicting the mass exodus away from Facebook. Similarly, a large number of media outlets have written about teens leaving Facebook for other Social Networking Sites (See here, here, here, here… the list goes on…)

Having conducted research into the Social Networking habits of teenagers over the last year, I was keen to see if this was true. Were teenagers leaving Facebook? What was driving them away? Where were they going? What had changed?

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Choosing research participants for Digital Research

What constitutes an appropriate or useful research participant for Digital Research? What criteria do we want our research participants to match? What even is a normal Digital user?

These are some of the questions we can often begin to ask ourselves when approaching Digital Research. What sort of participants do we want, and what makes a participant particularly useful/useless? What traits should we look for in our participants?

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