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.
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?
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?
Here’s something I’ve been playing around with since I had to give a presentation on Ethics 2.0 before Christmas; is the line between private interactions and public interactions online really that clear cut?
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?