Monday, February 09, 2009

Facebook - interaction profiles

Finally got around to writing something here, as I am at last working on something new rather than tidying up loose ends on edited collections / chasing administration in the office! Well, the 'new thing' is looking at the narrative potential of Facebook, with a particular focus on status updates. The work I'm doing is extending both Georgakopoulou's work on 'small stories' and the Labovian concept of evaluation to the fragments of life stories that get posted in status updates.

As usual, I'm interested in how status updates and the interactional patterns they generate (formerly on wall posts, now in comments) vary according to age and gender. So I have a data sample of 100 people, ranging from teenagers up to 40-somethings, split equally between men and women, and I've been comparing their profiles and status updates in particular. More work will follow on the micro-detail of the status updates themselves (what storyworlds are constructucted, topics, evaluation markers etc.), but just this morning I finished a rough and ready quantitative comparison of photo sharing, amount of self disclosure in personal profiles and status updates. The figures I am quoting obviously are not hugely representative (you can find more data like that in data-analytic posts). So here's what I've got so far:

On average across all age categories, the men tended to have slightly more friends (128 per person) than the the women (113 friends per person)
On average across all age categories, men have less photos of themselves on their profiles (40 / profile) than the women (94 / profile), and use less words in their personal profile (59 words / profile) than the women (78 words / profile).
And surprise surprise, women wrote more status updates over a two-month period (12 status updates / profile) than the men did too (7 updates / profile).

Obviously, there is a lot more work to be done here, disaggregating the scores according to the age band; qualitative analysis of the updates; comparing this with interactional data; beginning to interpret all of this. But it is an interesting start point. Clearly, it is not the number of friends that you have on Facebook that influences your interaction with them via your status updates. More to come!



Blogger JoseAngel said...

I feel like a piece of statistical raw data, not having any use for status updates myself on Facebook. Theory confirmed (as far as I'm concerned).

4:12 AM  

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