Digital communications, Behavioral scientists, Social scientists, Digital technology, and Economists
The era of Big Data has begun. Computer scientists, physicists, economists, mathematicians, political scientists, bio-informaticists, sociologists, and other scholars are clamoring for access to the massive quantities of information produced by and about people, things, and their interactions. Diverse groups argue about the potential benefits and costs of analyzing genetic sequences, social media interactions, health records, phone logs, government records, and other digital traces left by people. Significant questions emerge. Will large-scale search data help us create better tools, services, and public goods? Or will it usher in a new wave of privacy incursions and invasive marketing? Will data analytics help us understand online communities and political movements? Or will it be used to track protesters and suppress speech? Will it transform how we study human communication and culture, or narrow the palette of research options and alter what ‘research’ means? Given the rise of Big Data as a socio-technical phenomenon, we argue that it is necessary to critically interrogate its assumptions and biases. In this article, we offer six provocations to spark conversations about the issues of Big Data: a cultural, technological, and scholarly phenomenon that rests on the interplay of technology, analysis, and mythology that provokes extensive utopian and dystopian rhetoric. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]
Convergence: The Journal of Research into New Media Technologies. May2011, Vol. 17 Issue 2, p139-158. 20p.
Microblogs, Online social networks, Intimacy (Psychology), Celebrities, and Online information services
Social media technologies let people connect by creating and sharing content. We examine the use of Twitter by famous people to conceptualize celebrity as a practice. On Twitter, celebrity is practiced through the appearance and performance of ‘backstage’ access. Celebrity practitioners reveal what appears to be personal information to create a sense of intimacy between participant and follower, publicly acknowledge fans, and use language and cultural references to create affiliations with followers. Interactions with other celebrity practitioners and personalities give the impression of candid, uncensored looks at the people behind the personas. But the indeterminate ‘authenticity’ of these performances appeals to some audiences, who enjoy the game playing intrinsic to gossip consumption. While celebrity practice is theoretically open to all, it is not an equalizer or democratizing discourse. Indeed, in order to successfully practice celebrity, fans must recognize the power differentials intrinsic to the relationship. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]
New Media & Society. Feb2011, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p114-133. 20p.
Microblogs, Internet users, Social media, Self-presentation, and Social interaction
Social media technologies collapse multiple audiences into single contexts, making it difficult for people to use the same techniques online that they do to handle multiplicity in face-to-face conversation. This article investigates how content producers navigate ‘imagined audiences’ on Twitter. We talked with participants who have different types of followings to understand their techniques, including targeting different audiences, concealing subjects, and maintaining authenticity. Some techniques of audience management resemble the practices of ‘micro-celebrity’ and personal branding, both strategic self-commodification. Our model of the networked audience assumes a many-to-many communication through which individuals conceptualize an imagined audience evoked through their tweets. [ABSTRACT FROM PUBLISHER]
Polarization (Social sciences), Social groups, Homophily theory (Communication), Electronic discussion groups, and Virtual communities
The principle of homophily says that people associate with other groups of people who are mostly like themselves. Many online communities are structured around groups of socially similar individuals. On Twitter, however, people are exposed to multiple, diverse points of view through the public timeline. The authors captured 30,000 tweets about the shooting of George Tiller, a late-term abortion doctor, and the subsequent conversations among pro-life and pro-choice advocates. They found that replies between like-minded individuals strengthen group identity, whereas replies between different-minded individuals reinforce in-group and out-group affiliation. Their results show that people are exposed to broader viewpoints than they were before but are limited in their ability to engage in meaningful discussion. They conclude with implications for different kinds of social participation on Twitter more generally. [ABSTRACT FROM AUTHOR]