Course Project Topic: What Social Media and Social Media Analytics Could Tell Us about College Experience?

Quincy and I will collaborate on this project. We will look into what social media could tell us about college experience using social analytics tools. In thinking about this project, I found that some information we got from our two presentations is very useful for thinking about this project, which I didn’t realize until I start to think about our own project.

Some Details:
1. We want to focus on engineering and technology college students. We will NOT focus on Purdue specifically. Instead, we will look at engineering and technology college students’ experience in general. We will probably look at the differences among east coast, west coast, and mid-west regions.

2. Our data set will be from the public data of several leading social media sites. The major one is Facebook, because for the college students age group, Facebook is still the major social media avenue. Here is where the statistics we presented in our first presentation comes to play. We will present the rationale using those statistics to say why we chose Facebook, and other social media sites. In the last reading this week (the ASEE identity management paper), it is also mentioned that Facebook is the dominant social media site the participants use. A couple of the participants have Twitter accounts, but haven’t use it actively. Some of them read others’ blogs, but were not maintaining one themselves. Although many college students aren’t using Twitter actively, there probably college graduates talk about college experience they had before on Twitter, so we will still include data set from Twitter and other sites.

3. We will use social analytics tools Radian6, Visible Technologies, and NodeXL. We will explore to see what different aspects these tools will say about the data set. This project will be very exploratory, and we will refine/narrow down our questions along the way.

4. In our literature review, we will include some literature about college experience that have done off-line using survey, interview, etc. We will compare whether what we got from social media sites is different from what they got offline. If there is a difference, what leads to the difference? Here is where our second presentation about Internet culture comes to play. There is probably certain aspect of the Internet culture that leads to the difference.

Research Questions:
What social media could tell us about engineering and technology students college experience? What are those good things and not-so-good things in their college experience? What these results could inform us to improve students college experience, retain students, and help students success? (this question can be put as the implication part rather than the research questions part) What are the differences among east coast, west coast and mid-west areas in terms of college students experience? What are the differences when people talks about college experience online and offline provided by previous literature? What leads to the differences?

Who will be Interested:
This project will inform the college administrative body and policy makers to improve students experience and retain students. Most people who are interested in student retention, student success should be interested in this paper, and they will find it’s a whole new way to look at this problem space from the public discourse on social media sites. People who are interested in social media analytics tools and their application will also be interested to see how we use different tools.

Benefits To me:
(1) This project will take the nature of my research closer to engineering students, which will benefit me as a PhD in engineering education.
(2) I will come to understand more about the culture of social media, and the culture of college students on social media.
(3) I will become familiar with social media analytics tools, and they are very related to social computing, which is my research interest.

Questions:
1. The conversations taken online. Some of them are talking about college experience, some of them are talking about their opinions about college experience, how do we distinguish? If everything gets mashed up together, will that be valid? Other questions are mostly related how to we deal with the data, how do we tell “this” from “that”. I guess we just have to seat down and play with the tools to see what we can get.
2. We have to develop a series of keywords related to our topic to search and generate results from the tools. What kind of standard we have to comply with? Or just think about the words out of our mind?
3. We want to submit an abstract to the ASEE conference by Oct 7th. Not sure which division we should go?

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Are SNS and Microblogging Killing Blogs?

I encountered this post today:

The blog post talks about whether Facebook is killing blogs. It mentioned Indonesia. I think similar thing happened in China, but not necessarily true here in the US.

The China popular SNS Renren, though looks very much like Facebook, has IMO way better embedded function for blogging. It is similar as Note on Facebook, but they don’t call it note, they call it diary or blog. So the users get the sense that they can write way longer things here than Facebook note. So they started to write blogs and the community of Renren has made it way easier to share the blogs than an independent wordpress or blogger blog (of course, wordpress and blogger are blocked in China but there are other services). In my network, the most shared content probably would be (1) how to find jobs as college graduate (2) how to improve your English skill (3) how to go study abroad (3) how to cook while you study abroad (4) personal life and opinions (5) funny stuffs that distributed fast across the whole site because of sharing.

My personal experience was that I soon abandoned my own blog after starting to use Renren blog. While users like me who just want to find a place to publish and share would abandon the blog, people who are really enthusiastic about their subject and businesses will still keep the blog, like this article mentioned. I feel (just personal opinion) People in the US tends to be more independent and enthusiastic about their own topics while in China they like go to the community and sharing very practical things like job hunting and house buying etc.

Also as I mentioned, because the Facebook Note function is not really perceived as a blogging, I seldom see my Facebook friends use it, much less than the Blogging sharing in Renren. We probably don’t need to worry about blogs here at least in a short term. While in China I feel Renren and Sina Weibo (a Microblogging service) are really start to obsolete the blogging market. Although Renren and Facebook look very much similar, they are cultivating different cultures and fostering different user behavior patterns.

Pls excuse typos and logic and paragraph formatting, because I am using my iPhone tying all this. Using the WordPress app for the first time 🙂

Re-Visit: Clay Shirky TED Talk about Cognitive Surplus

I watched this video many months ago, and recently think it would be helpful to re-watch it since I am thinking about socially distributed cognition as one theoretical framework for social media and crowdsourcing. I don’t know whether folks have watched this video or not, I recommend everyone who is interested in social media to watch it!


Clay Shirky defined Cognitive Surplus as the tremendous amount of resources enabled by human motivation to contribute and share, and the modern digital media tools. The world has over a trillion of hours a year to commit to shared projects, and modern technologies have unleashed the hidden power in the spare time. He mentioned that people weren’t couch potatoes because they liked to be, it’s because consuming was the only opportunity they were given to. The intrinsic motivation to create and share is empowered when given the modern media tools.

I am thinking that what is the difference between cognitive surplus and socially distributed cognition. It seems that distributed cognition and socially distributed cognition take a perspective of a much smaller scale, it emphasize the cognitive process between individual person and the environment, then socially distributed cognition scales up a little bit to include individual person’s friends, relatives and other people around. I was looking for a cognitive theory that could scale up to the modern web, and this cognitive surplus looks quite a good candidate. However, it talks more about cognitive resources rather than the cognitive process.(So more to think about and look for here…)

Another main idea of this video is about the difference between sites like Ushahidi (this is an interesting site that worth look at) and LOLcats/Flikr/YouTube. The opinion is that Ushahidi creates civic value by the participants that would benefit the whole society, while other sites are only creating communal value. He advocates that more sites should be designed around human generosity. I have some doubt on this, isn’t YouTube creating civic value that could benefit the whole society?

There is another point that’s motivational to me. He said There is a spectrum between mediocre work and good work. but there is a gap between doing nothing and doing anything. So as long as we are doing something, we have passed that gap, and we are in the spectrum, then we could struggle to get to the  top of the spectrum sometime in the future 🙂 This is very inspiring to me, at least to my coding skills.

Why numbers matter?

We reviewed lots of numbers in the last Tech621 class about social media adoption and uses at individual/organization levels with an US/international perspectives. Then why we didn’t that?

1. For pure motivation purpose: When we see so many people all over the world using the internet, we get soooo excited! Thus we thought we are discussing and researching about a fantastic topic! Yeah!

2. We get to know the developing trends and geographical distribution, so we know a bit better where to go for our research and future plan.

More to be coming… welcome to contribute your ideas~

TECH621 Assignment: Social Media Sites Classification

Instead of coming up with some kind of classification system myself out of nothing, I did a search about some existing classification system. I found this article very interesting, and I agree with the classification system it proposes, at least for this time being. This seems the most widely accepted classification system by now, unless we come up with something else within our brilliant minds in our brilliant Tech621 class 🙂

Kaplan, A. M., & Haenlein, M. (2010). Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media. Business horizons, 53(1), 59–68.
This is the classification in this paper (please click and zoom in to see clearly):

I think Content Communities and Social networking sites took a large part of the social media sites, at least the 20 social media sites each of us in the Tech621 has come up with.

This article also talks about the definition of social media in comparison with Web 2.0, which is the topic we have discussed last week. This article talks about another concept User Generated Content. In the opinion of this article, Web 2.0 is considered as the platform for the evolution of Social Media, and Social Media is a group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of Web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of User Generated Content. This makes sense, I think maybe there is a way to merge this with our discussion result in last class.

There is a section in this article titled: “2. What is Social Media–—And what is it not?” I was anticipating greatly to hear it talks about what Social Media is NOT, but I think, as far as the way I read it, it only talks about what is social media, then went ahead to talk about the classification of social media, didn’t really talk about what it is not…

Examples and Thoughts:

High Self-representation, Low Media Richness: Blog (LiveJournal), Micro-blogs (Twitter, Sina Weibo)

(I should say that blogs and micro-blogs are initially for sharing thoughts using text, but people can also post rich media like photos and video clips there. As technologies advance, some things or features tend to fuse, but I still think this is a valid classification based on the initial purposes.)

High Self-representation, Medium Media Richness: Social Networking Sites (Facebook, RenRen, , Couchsurfing, Foursquare, Friendfeed, Posterous, Orkut), Friendster (Social Gaming), Dating websites (Fubar)

High Self-representation, High Media Richness: Virtual Social (Second Life)

Low Self-representation, Low Media Richness: collaborative projects (Wiki, Googl doc), Q & A forum (Quora), old discussion groups (Usenet, telnet, BBS), information searching and sharing (Yelp, Eventful, Sourceforge), Zotero

Low Self-representation, Medium Media Richness: YouTube, Flikr, SlateBox (collaborative visualization tool), Spotify, Xiami, LastFm

(There are people on YouTube writing video diaries, which support an even higher self-representation than Facebook. I can only say that there are unlimited possibilities how people use social media, as long as the technologies allow people to do so. Even when the technologies do not support, people will make it possible by improve the technologies. Social media is evolving by people’s need and sometimes random thoughts, not by how they classify the sites initially, but when we still need to classify them, one standard is their initial or main purpose.)

Low Self-representation, High Media Richness: World of Warcraft

TECH621 Discussion: Web 2.0 Ontology–A Soil and Plants Metaphor

I was always thinking ontology is a very abstract term from philosophy, but it shows up more and more frequently in my reading recently, so now I realize in information science, an ontology formally represents knowledge as a set of concepts within a domain, and the relationships between those concepts. It can be used to reason about the entities within that domain, and may be used to describe the domain. 

In the last TECH621 class, we were discussing the concepts of Web2.0, Social Media, and Social Networking Sites (SNS), and the relationship between them, so basically, we are creating a ontology about this set of concepts. The purpose is to come up with a better way to describe this domain, to establish a common base of communication and to provide a framework for conducting research.

Here is the result of our discuss guided by Dr. V. I added my own thoughts about CSCW (Computer-Supported Cooperative Work) in the process of trying to find the position of email, but then I kind of think it’s not necessary to include CSCW here to mess up with other concepts. I also add internet to include the whole thing, just because I am not very comfortable that half of the CSCW circle is leaving outside.  This is based on our class discussion, but I don’t particularly like using the circles to illustrate here out of the reason specified after this picture. (Please click and zoom in to see clearly)

My Unfinished Thoughts:

(1) Most things we are talking about are based on the modern Internet and the recent and mainstream thinking about social media. There maybe particular cases that are not of interest to research in this field, which we chose to not consider. I feel we are defining things to provide a base of academic communication, also, what our result is heavily influenced by what we refer to in our daily communication in academia. One thing I learned for being a researcher is that (I don’t know whether this is right or wrong), to live with confusion, and to leave things that are not crucial to your research out of mind.

(2) Here are two concepts of platforms and two concepts of channels, which I think is resulted by comparing things of different types. The relationship between Social Media and Web 2.0 is more of “based upon”, so Web 2.0 is platform in the sense of an Operating System. Web 2.0 and Social Media are things of different types, like the soil and the plants. The relationship between Social Media and SNS are more of “include”. They are things of the same type, like plants and a certain family of plants. To illustrate this whole thing using circles (I mean Venn Diagram) is fine, as long as we pointed out that the two platforms are in different senses as Dr. V did it in class, because drawing circles is a very intuitive way of showing relationships. However, personally, I think it’s better to only using circles (I mean Venn Diagram) when categorizing things of the same type, here I more like to use the soil and plants metaphor to illustrate the relationships between Web2.0, Social Media and SNS:

Web 2.0 is like a particular type of Soil with a number of characteristics such as user participation and contribution. That is to say, this soil needs human beings to interact with it to become meaningful soil, otherwise it’s just a piece of empty ground. Web2.0 can also address other possibilities because of this interactive nature, that’s where Social Media comes into play. Social Media is a family of plants that growing in this Web2.0 soil, besides user participation and contribution, it also address user communication. SNS is then a sub-family of the Social Media plants.

Unfinished thoughts, welcome commenting and helping me articulate.

Reference:

O’Reilly,2005

McAfee, 2006

TECH621 Assignment 1: 20 Social Media Sites

20 Social Media Sites that I didn’t know before (Some of the descriptions are quoted from Wikipedia):
1. Slatebox.com—Collaborative visualization tool
2. Quora.com—Question & answer forum created, edited and organized by its community of users
3. Foursquare.com—A location-based social networking website based on GPS-enabled mobile devices
4. Friendfeed.com—Real-time feed aggregator/sharing
5. Posterous.com—Blogging and sharing
6. Vimeo.com—Video sharing
7. Sourceforge.net—Find, create, and publish Open Source software for free
8. Friendster.com—previously social networking, and redesigned to social gaming
9. Orkut.com—Social Networking operated by Google, popular in Brazil
10. Eventful.com—Search, track, and share information about events
11. Cyworld.com—Korean social network service
12. LunarStorm.com– Swedish commercial advertisement-financed social networking website for teenagers
13. Skyrock.com—Social networking, blogging, profile, messaging
14. Bebo.com—Blogging
15. Ryze.com—Business networking
16. tribe.net—social networking
17. LiveJournal.com—Global social networking
18. Couchsurfing.com—A volunteer-based worldwide network connecting travelers with members of local communities
19. BlackPlanet.com—African-American community social network site
20. Dogster.com and Catster.com—social network for dog and cat owners

A bit problematic ones:
1. Google offers (beta) http://www.google.com/offers —Offers about places to eat, play, shop and stay. (not sure whether users can contribute to the information yet)

2. Nepster.com—Started as a P2P music sharing service, then turn to a music store because of copyright issue. (not sure whether it’s social media or not now)

3. Amazon Mechanical Turk http://www.mturk.com—Since this one has stimulated lots of discussion in class, so I’d like to list it here. Now I think Amazon Turk may not be fully qualified as a social media site, but it does emphasize and utilize one very important as aspect of Web 2.0 platforms, that is collective intelligence and crowd sourcing–the importance to utilize collective human effort to maintain and improve data quality.

Some social media sites from China:
I was thinking that China’s social media sites are largely controlled by government censorship, so there’s not that much to say about them. However, this turns out just naive thought out of my mind. Just because of the censorship, and people’s desire to express themselves freely, the social media territory is very controversial and is fostering many opportunities too. (reference: China’s Social Network Problem) Here is some examples among the most popular social media sites in China:
1. Renren.com–Social Networking, a Chinese version of Facebook

2. Youku.com–Video sharing, a Chinese version of YouTube

3. Tianya.cn–Internet Forum(news, gossip, etc)

4. Douban.com–Book, movie, music reviews and a lot more

5. SinaWeibo (Weibo.com)–Microblog, a Chinese version of Twitter, but better in my opinion