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Reflecting Online about Reflecting on Reflecting Online

My interests as a communication scholar lie at the intersection of interpersonal communication and social media.  (There’s a third road that leads to humor studies, but I hardly ever get to drive on that one.  Someday!)  Currently, I am exploring the question:

  • How do people evaluate advice through comments to Facebook wall posts?

This question is then broken down to:

  • How do people evaluate advice (in general)?
  • What are the unique features/characteristics of comments on Facebook wall posts as a communication medium?

For my question on advice evaluation, I am relying on Advice Response Theory (MacGeorge) for two reasons: one, because that is my advisor’s theory, and two, it’s really the only and best most comprehensive theory on advice evaluation out on the market today.  Advice response theory explains how message factors (things about the message itself) and source factors (perceptions about the advice giver) affect advice outcomes (how the advice recipient reacts the the advice).  This theory has been primarily tested in dyadic face-to-face situations, so it will be interesting to see how the theory works in both a computer-mediated environment, but also a social networking group setting.

My question on unique features of Facebook wall posts has sent me in several directions and led me to explore various theories on computer-mediated communication and social networking.  Some of the theories are The Hyperpersonal Model of Communication (Walther), the Masspersonal Communcation Model (O’Sullivan), online speech acts (Carr, Schrock, & Dauterman), and a few others.  The features about FB as a communication medium that seem to apply at this point to this discussion are that it fluctuates in its synchronicity, it is a shared space for multiple contributors, and it is a leaner communication medium (reduced non-verbal and social cues).

One of the more interesting concepts I’ve stumbled upon is “friendsourcing“.  Friendsourcing is like crowdsourcing, but with a more select group.  In this way, it is much more of a web 2.0 way of crowdsourcing ideas.  The reason I found this exciting is that while the idea has been around for a while (and people are talking about it in the business world), it is almost non-existent in academic literature.  It shows up in computer science literature about friendsourcing coding problems, and it shows up in an article about friendsourcing solutions through facebook for blind users looking for visual descriptions of objects from their friends.  I think there is a lot of mileage in this term, and it is time that this term made its way into the vocabulary of computer-mediated communication and digital sociology scholars.

One last thing I’ve discovered … the incredible work of the talented Jessica Vitak and Nicole Ellison (and friends) is going to become my new best friend. =)

Calling All Facebook Friends

Who Wants to Know? Question-asking and Answering Practices among Facebook Users

If you have any interest in this or ideas/suggestions for sources and directions, I’d love to hear them. =)


Filed under Links, Reflections

Cell phones and the fear of being alone

Dr. V. from my Tech class posted a nice reflection on Louis CK‘s interview on Conan and his rant Cell phones and the fear of being alone.

The questions she asks at the end of her piece are:

  • Can you try to pay attention and notice when you are using your phone to avoid being alone?
  • Can you try practicing being alone, just sitting there, without music or any other stimulus, for maybe 5 minutes every other day, and see what happens?

I find this discussion about cell phones and how it changes the way we interact with the world to be very interesting.  For me, I did not have my own cell phone until I was 26 years old.  I made it all the way through high school, college, and grad school without this tech.

While having this ability to instantly connect with anyone has its value, there were also side-benefits to the unplugged life.  There was a point in my life when I could go away and truly be away.  I could be alone … truly alone.

Now life is very different … and very connected.  Don’t get me wrong … I love it.  I love being able to call my wife, find my friends, get directions, etc.  And now, when I look down and notice that I have no service, I panic just a little bit because I’m off the grid.

And like Louis CK’s rant … it’s partly because that makes me realize something larger about the human condition (a fear deep inside) that I am alone.  It’s just me.  And someday I’ll be completely off the grid.  Which is scary … in the best way … because it reminds me that I’m alive, my own person, responsible for my life … and that I should probably find some better reception if I’d like to check my messages.


Filed under Links

Blog Reflection: Why are Generation Y Yuppies unhappy?

Why are Generation Y Yuppies unhappy?  That is the question this Huffington Post blog explores, explaining clearly why your life sucks (or at least why you think so).  The equation they use is Happiness = Expectations – Reality.  Interesting enough… and food for thought.  (Some of this Huff blog is NSFW, so avert your eyes before you get to the potty word!)

I’ll be honest … I usually take issue with these types of broad, sweeping sociological statements.  My issues usually are: people treat generation Y as though it were a monolithic entity, the basis for the claim that they are X, Y, or Z is often not established, these things conflate correlation with causality, and also I feel jealous because I’m too old for Gen Y but too young for Gen X.

In any case, my Technology class last night discussed online self-presentation and what is “the self”.  We talked about performativity by Judith Butler and wrestled with what it meant to present, perform, and or exhibit oneself online.  One thing we did not address directly yet was the compulsion for people to present an overly positive image online and/or the sociological side-effect of comparison of our personal knowledge of our actual lives with the projected image of other’s online lives.

The “Why are Generation Y Yuppies unhappy?” blog proposes an answer in the last section of the piece.  Its initial premise is that “Happiness = Expectations – Reality” … and for this connected generation, the digital house always wins.  There is some research to support these claims, as well.

This poses an interesting question for me to self-reflect on: Is my social media use making me unhappy, and if so … what should I do about it?


Filed under Links

Checking into Foursquare’s Time Machine by digiphile

Check out digiphile’s blog: Checking into Foursquare’s Time Machine.

Dr. V told me that she is not always a big fan of infographics because they tend not to report sample sizes and methods.  That said, I’m reposting this because I thought the article accompanying it was an excellent reflection on why infographics (and the stories we tell with social media data) have both benefits and drawbacks.  In addition, I’d like to address two ideas:

  • Considering Physical Tracking
  • Socially Mediated Identity

First, tracking: I have not yet tried Foursquare, and I’ll be honest … of the various social media outlets out there, this one spooks me a little bit.  While I know (theoretically) that my movements are digitally tracked through computer logins, GPS units in my phone and car, check-ins by me and others through Facebook, etc., the premise of Foursquare is a bit jarring to my old-school mind.  It is “in your face” and up-front with its intentions to physically track a person.  Sometime this semester, I’ll jump in to check it out.

Second: identity.  The author makes an interesting point … while this infographic is pretty, life is so much more than the sum of these places.  This does not represent the evaluations, experiences, and stories that go along with the data points.  That said, the author also appreciates the nostalgia of the graphic … as if it were a journal.  For me, as a social media user, I find it important to be mindful about who I am online, but also … who I am in general.  These types of discussions nicely force the issue.


Filed under Links

Brad King: The Appalachian Teach

An interesting blog with a unique insight from a digital media professor and journalist associated with Ball State University

1 Comment

September 2, 2013 · 3:42 pm

11 Shocking New Social Media Statistics in America

I’m not sure exactly when this article on  was printed, but it provides a nice “sitz-im-leben” of today’s social media practices in the US.


August 24, 2013 · 4:42 pm