Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Personality types and social media

My name is [something] and I am currently writing my masters thesis on the differences in personality of Facebook users and Twitter users to see if they show different characteristics. This research will hopefully be of great interest to businesses, as well as individuals, as it will highlight what type of people use different web services. I would greatly appreciate it if you could publicize my research.I appreciate that you may get many these requests but it would be a great help to me and I believe it will also be an interesting study. If you agree, I can forward the survey link to you.

...I think you may have mistaken my website for a publishing authority! It's just a collection of material from a few researchers, which at this point is somewhat outdated. Regardless I'd be happy to post a link to your survey or put up a copy of your paper online for you to share. I might also be able to provide a little feedback on your research methods - accessing and deciphering something like personality through surveys is often difficult, respondents may have varying self-perceptions and understandings of what it means to be 'introverted' or 'narcissistic.' I do think you could find some commonalities between user groups, however, often people pick communication tools and expression mediums that they feel fit their behaviors and personalities, peer groups and stage in life.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Facebook and young parents, a how to build a conceptual framework

The idea for my research project to look at young parents (those aged 18-25) use of Facebook.

My reasoning for choosing this specific group is simply through the observation of the field of SNS research concentrating mainly on student groups - and I think non-students may have a very different experience of using SNS for socialising and support - especially young parents who I've seen posting status update after status update about their children! I've tried to look for other research about young parents social support and there doesn't seem to be much focus on young parents social support, especially online social support. Consequently I think there may be an under researched area here.

I'd like to do an exploratory qualitative study, but at the moment I'm struggling to see how I can formulate research questions, so if you have any idea of open questions regarding Facebook as a social function or Facebook as a support function that'd be great.

Offhand I can think of people doing research on use of the internet and online communities for health information and social support, mostly with an emphasis on social capital. An example sequence of readings could go like this:

• Strauss, A. L., Fagerhaugh, S., Suczek, B., & Wiener, C. (1997). Social organization of medical work. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction. (Originally published in 1985 by University of Chicago Press.) Chapter 8: The Work of Patients (pp. 191-209). (Negotiation of patients and medical personnel with technology; cooperative work; legitimate peripheral participation; power relationships)

• Pettigrew, K. E. (2000). Lay information provision in community settings: How community health nurses disseminate human services information to the elderly. Library Quarterly, 70(1), 47-85. (Information ecology; social networks; information flow)

• Orgad, S. (2005). The transformative potential of online communication: The case of breast cancer patients’ Internet spaces. Feminist Media Studies, 5(2), 141-161. (Online communities; social capital; invisibility; power)

Now I know you’re not necessarily interested in health, but it’s the same kind of idea – find an older and broad set of ideas or theories (social inclusion, strength of ties, what it means to be a parent, communities of practice or maybe imagined communities, etc…) and then maybe connect them to a discipline or area of study (information science, communication, education, psychology) and build up to a specific example or site of research (Facebook, for instance).

As for the differences in FB use by cultural group I’d say there’s a great deal of work to be done – most SNS research has been on privacy and youth, and as the major immersive college student user base moves on to the work and young adult world (what you’re experiencing) and the system broadens its scope to new countries and late adopters join (parents, middle-aged women in particular) we’re likely to see a complicating of context and diversifcation of social norms – and an even more pressing need for study.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

...I am a sophomore attending [omit] High School in [omit], New York. This year in school, I was chosen to participate in an elite program called Advanced Science Research. In this program, students begin to find a topic of interest and take part in meaningful research. I am extremely interested in learning about the effects of social networking on children and teenagers. I would love to become a published scientist prior to high school graduation. In addition, I hope to enter numerous science competitions such as the Intel Science Talent Search.

While studying and looking over literature, I discovered that you work in the field of social networking and are involved in research regarding Facebook and was intrigued by your research. I was wondering if we could meet to discuss your current projects and discuss the possibility of you being my mentor over the next three years. I understand since you live so far away this will be hard, but if we could possibly coordinate something where I can assist in research over the computer. If you are not available, could you please send me any literature that you think would help me as I begin my scientific journey or can you recommend another scientist that could possibly be my mentor. I know that you must get loads of messages in a day so thank you for your time.

I’m impressed that you’re taking on such ambitious projects at such an early stage in school! The topic you’ve chosen is very broad, so you might want to be careful and focus it a little bit, studying the impacts of social networking websites on youth has many potential dimensions ranging from communication to the making of meaning to influence on social relationships and so much more. You might think about one aspect of Facebook that interests you (ideas: how it’s spreading about in different countries around the world, the way it influences how people get to know one another, its differences and similarities with other ‘traditional’ forms of communication technologies, the way the interface has changed over the years and what this has accomplished, etc…) and then investigate that particular topic. The most commonly addressed topics seem to be those dealing with privacy and identity as well as business growth and valuation, I think you might find it more interesting to explore something less well-known. I’m not sure that I can help you publish anything formally but would be happy to host your work on the project site.

These days I’m not actually specifically researching Facebook, most of that research was done as part of my masters work in sociology a couple of years ago. I’ve left the project website up as a resource to help young and aspiring researchers like yourself. I’d be happy to help provide some support and feedback, but you should be aware I’m just a PhD student and am far from being an accomplished expert in the field. I’m not sure what mentorship involves but if you think it can be covered by occasional emails I might be willing to sign on. Alternatively you might have some luck contacting Jenny Ryan ( As for literature give me a little bit of a more refined version of your topic and I’ll help to pass you appropriate readings. For now you might think about some of these:

boyd, d. m., & Ellison, N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13(1), article 11.

and maybe work by Tufekci:

Good luck and let me know if you refine your topic a bit!