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New Perspectives on Social Media: Putting Our 'Known Unknowns' on the Map (OIISDP 2009)


New Perspectives on Social Media:
Putting Our 'Known Unknowns' on the Map

Axel Bruns

  • 16 July 2009 - Oxford Internet Institute Summer Doctoral Programme, Brisbane

Not only are social media a major online phenomenon: they are also producing a vast amount of data and metadata about cultural practices, most of which are shared openly and deliberately - blogging, social bookmarking, social networking, and other practices would be impossible to imagine without RSS feeds, open APIs, and other sources of detailed and up-to-date information about what users are doing. This provides researchers with significant new opportunities to track, analyse, and interpret online cultural practices on an unprecedented scale, and virtually in real time: we can see Twitter traffic spike in response to major events, we can track the viral distribution of YouTube videos, we can map the social graphs of the blogosphere, etc. At present, in fact, we are in the unusual position of having more research-ready data available than we have research questions to ask of these data - and we are only developing the tools and methodologies to engage with this resource. This seminar will outline some of the opportunities, and point to the methodological and interpretive challenges we face in confronting them.

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