School has started! This week I began my second year as a graduate student, so hopefully my last year taking classes. One of them I’m especially excited about is taught by GroupLens Professor Loren Terveen and will be all about research methods in HCI. I’m looking forward to this opportunity for me to both learn a lot as a young researcher, but also, take some time to reinforce the lessons I’ve learned already over the last year. Anyway, the class meetings will be primarily seminar style, and on Wednesday I’ll be leading a discussion on a paper by Mor Naaman, Jeffery Boase, and Chi-Hui Lai called Is it Really About Me? Message Content in Social Awareness Streams. So I figure the best way to talk about this post will be to practice in my blog.
This study examined 350 Twitter users to learn more about the social awareness streams. Social awareness streams are defined as content feeds with brief posts that are generally from a personal account to a well articulated and connected public space. While they acknowledge that the social awareness streams on social networks like Facebook and Twitter are often evaluated as Micro-blogs, this perspective forgets the important details that make the shared content more than just shorter blogs. The researchers did a lot of work hand coding tweets and user information all to find out, that (surprise, surprise) people talk about themselves on Twitter. However, they also found that there is a small set of users that use Twitter in an informative and conversational style, that gains a lot of followers. This paper was released in 2010, so I suppose I'll need to do some digging to figure out what has become of this knowledge since the work was published.
I’m looking forward to discussing this paper with my class next week, and learning what my classmates have to say about it. There are a few questions I’m especially hoping will be fun to talk about. Do we think the conclusions of the paper would translate to Facebook? How would we compare the users studied to those that keep their profiles private? Do others believe in the idea of “social awareness streams” as characterized by the paper, or is this just a long way to say “Twitter?” How does Vine or Instagram relate to any of this?
Mostly though, this paper makes me think of the ever sarcastic @ProBirdRights' great post-