Friday, October 19, 2007

Social Networks panel

The Social Networks panel this morning was very interesting. First, Naomi Baron presented a paper on presentation of self on Facebook. She had looked at both quantitative and qualitative responses of the ways people use IM and the Facebook profile. I guess people used to use the "away" message of AIM much like profile (status) info on Facebook. She mentioned one quote from the survey in which a student identified the role of the Facebook profile as "me on my best day." In other words, this is your best foot forward or the way you want people to perceive you.

Some researchers from Western Michigan presented It's Complicated: Speaking Like a Facebook Queen" which studied the way that Facebook interacts in personal relationships, development, maintenance, and dissolution. One interesting statistic that they quoted was that drinking beer was tied with Facebook as the thing college students most enjo.

A researcher that I have referenced in my own work, Danah Boyd (pictured above) presented From the Mall to MySpace: American Youth Socialization in public spaces. She discussed how teens use social networking to break out of the increased control and surveillance that is imposed by parents (you can't go out, it's dangerous, etc.). The sites serve an important social function for people otherwise isolated.

The final paper was a look at a activities on a Danish social network site Arto. Maline Charlotte Larsen identified four discourses: sincerity, appearance, love and friendship. It is interesting to see the different methods and models that researchers are using to study these spaces. There is a panel on papers dealing with Second Life this afternoon, then the keynote by Henry Jenkins.

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