Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Facebook users on Batam Island

I am the midst of collecting data for my Thesis about Facebook. It is about the relation of privacy and productivity towards Facebook. When i look for facebook research online, I saw your website The Facebook Project and look like you're doing Facebook research with your team.

I wonder if you have any suggestion about how can i get the number of Facebook users in Batam islands.

So, yes, as you probably know I did some work on researching Facebook years ago during my time working on my masters in sociology. Back then the answer to your question would have likely been easy, chances are Batam Island would have been categorized as one network (or possibly all of Indonesia). Now that they’ve dissolved the old network sorting system and the associated pages I’m not sure if we can find a very accurate answer. Quickly Googling reveals an O’Reilly presentation that talk about Facebook users by region: (slide 13 gets you the counts on Indonesia from 5 months ago, which I know isn’t all that helpful).

Other sources suggest a lot of rapid growth in Indonesia as of late. I suspect that’s maybe what brought your attention to the topic, it seems that many countries go through a period of explosive adoption of Facebook – it’s usually an exciting time when social norms are first being worked out.

It might be possible to contact Facebook on account of a press inquiry and see if they can give you a user estimate, though I doubt they’d be responsive to a researcher. Instead you might be able to construct a reasonable guess based on other measures of connectivity for Batam island. How many people have broadband in that area? Effective Facebook use usually requires a faster connection. Certain portions of the population might be more interested in using it than others. For instance the elderly might be less engaged. By overlaying different population demographics you might be able to narrow it down to a high-range estimate of how many people are Facebook users (or potential ones).

Anyway, suspended from all of this you may also consider how important knowing how many people are active users on Facebook is to your overall study. It might be more important to know what people are doing with it, or what it means to them. This is the sort of information that can be observed or gathered from interviews and might end up being more salient in the long run.

Body Image and Methods

I am currently working on an image event for my women's studies class in which we are to raise awareness about an issue we've studied in a visually-dominate manner. Our group's idea is to send people to a facebook group (not yet created) that will compare body images of men to women, showing the societal disparity. Before we begin our work on the actual creation of our image(s) we must write a proposal with research on research methods. I was wondering if you would be able to supply any info regarding facebook?

So I don't feel like I have enough information about your project to be helpful. Facebook groups can be a great place to bring people together to share ideas and discuss concepts on forums, they have the advantage (and sometimes disadvantage) of people owning pre-existing accounts that pretty accurately and comprehensively represent their identities. I imagine this project could go in many ways - your research methods should best match your research questions and individual competencies as researchers.

For instance you might do qualitative content analysis (discourse analysis) on the discussions and reactions people have with regards to different pictures. What do people say about them? Does this relate to aspects of their identity (gender, sexuality, class, ethnicity)? How does language choice shape the way people think and talk about body image? Does the discourse only happen in some forms, or does it privilege or disempower some participants? Who's not even involved in the discourse, and does that matter? Is there a history to these relationships or conceptions? This sort of approach would better match people well-versed in literary critical analysis.

Or you might instead post some pictures in the group, ask a bunch of people to look at them, and then conduct interviews or a survey after. Interviews could help to discern how people make sense of the pictures - what their impressions where, what they meant to them or how they spoke. A survey would be more suited to gathering general perspectives, but would constrain their responses to whatever questions and answers the survey designers choose, which could make data uniform and easy to analyze, but also incomplete or reduce its validity.

I think most importantly you should give some thought to picking key research questions. From there you can decide if you want to go about your work inductively (observing what's going on and looking for themes) or deductively (starting with a theory and testing it). Mixing these two methods might be possible, but could be very difficult (and ill-advised) within the same study for a number of reasons.

Automated Data Collection Strategies on Groups

I am a researcher in [a country] working on a Facebook-based, agenda-setting study. Ideally, I would like to perform an analysis of participation in a specific, public FB group but I have run into a snag. I am trying to capture all of the content on the FB group's wall without resorting to tedious copy and paste methods. Do you know of anyone who has successfully worked with this type of data set or how one would go about automating the copying process?

As far as I know it’s not possible to use webcrawlers or automated data collection programs with Facebook – they have mechanisms built into the site to block or ban users who exhibit inhuman tendencies (like being able to follow a hundred links at a time). Offhand I can think of two workarounds, though. I believe you can set Facebook Page (as in the Facebook Pages platform application, a front/service used by companies and other stakeholders - to push out to an RSS feed. I think that’ll only capture wall content put up by the page operators, however. The other way you might go about it could be to write a client-side script with Greasemonkey and Firefox or something similar. I think ideally you’d have to visit the page to download it and then perform some kind of programmatic operation on it to sort or refine the data. It might be possible to write a script that could be used in conjunction with a user account that’s always logged on – it would refresh the page say every hour, download it, parse through the code to record the posts, stopping if it encounters an identical one, and appending the text into a file. Lots of work but it might be possible to do without flagging Facebook’s bot-catching mechanisms.

Honestly I haven’t done anything like this so I’d suggest you try contacting Eric Gilbert (at UIUC) or Fred Stutzman (UNC Chapel Hill) and asking them, they’re quite a bit more familiar with the security and programming side of Facebook research.

Compliments and Comments on Facebook

I am currently writing, or trying to write a paper on compliment responses in the facebook context, which is for my Masters programme. i am practically going bonkers trying to figure out and collect the data for my paper. so, i am hoping that u cud help me. is there any researchers doing a paper on communication in facebook or compliment responses in facebook? and it would b great if u cud give me some tips or points on this matter. thank u very very much

I’m not sure if I understand what you mean when you say ‘compliment responses.’ Are you referring to the comments people can leave in response to posted statements, links and media?

Regardless, I think the question of the best way to collect data is a good one. You should probably pick a research method that fits your research questions and approach. If you have a hypothesis you’d like to test you might think about laying it out in explicit statement form and then determining the criteria or variables that would apply. For instance, you might copy and paste several pages of Facebook wall posts from your newsfeed into a text file and then count the number of times people respond to each other, anticipating that, say, the more a person posts the more likely they are to get responses. You could deepen the analysis by codifying certain words as tied to a type of emotion and then look for changes in the amount of type of responses between individuals. This sort of thing would be done programmatically, and be considered to be a quantitative content analysis. You’d have to be careful about what you say about your results, in this case there would be sample limitations.

Alternatively you might not worry about getting a lot of data, but instead looking closely at a small amount of data to see what it presents. I suspect this angle might work better for you since you seem to be unsure of the best way to go about your project. If you work inductively, and start by making a lot of observations of something you can eventually start to find consistencies and ongoing themes. With enough observation you can begin to construct theories of the greater narratives afoot. For instance, you might take a selection of wall post exchanges that involve comments that happen to be compliments and see what they say. Are they usually initiated by people of one gender? Are the compliments mostly about one type of thing, like a person’s appearance? What might these exchanges say about the discourse of compliments, or the way people think about complimenting one another? The goal here would not be to make global statements based on generalizable data, but instead to help shed some light on the way some people make sense of things or what compliments implicitly mean to them. Or how people are able to give and receive compliments on Facebook.

Youth, Journalism and Facebook

I'm still exploring possibilities of working on a research where my nine-year-olds could use facebook, probably assuming as young journalists, giving updates of school events. Would appreciate some comments and views from you, with regards to constructing the research qn. Im looking into the areas of writing or digital literacy via fb.Thanks and hope to hear fr u

With regards to your inquiry: I’m not sure that Facebook is a website that’s intended for younger preteen kids. You might consider adopting a tool more specifically design for those age audiences, like Webkinz, Club Penguin, Imbee, Whyville, Panwapa, Beanie Babies, BuildABear, WoogiWorld, or Cybersmartz.

That said, I think the idea of engaging children as potential young-journalists is both progressive and a great way to help them foster some of the core skills and competencies that are essential to digital literacy. One way you might do this would be to establish a class or school blog and invite students to collaborate with one another to create articles for it. They might take pictures of class projects or write a paragraph about their experience on a field trip. You could help them think about key issues in journalism, like their audience and the best way they can convey information. This might also present an opportunity for students to review one another’s work and talk about what they like and dislike about it, effectively helping them to develop critical thinking skills as well as socializing them into proper ways to present feedback while maintaining concern for each other’s feelings.