social network analysis

Banning pro-ana websites? Not a good idea, as Web censorship might have a 'toothpaste tube effect'

[Update 05.04.13: A longer version of this post, with revised results, has evolved into a full-fledged article published by the UK Royal Society. To cite the article: A. A. Casilli, F. Pailler, P. Tubaro (2013). Online networks of eating disorder websites: why censoring pro ana might be a bad idea, Perspectives in Public Health , vol. 133, n.2, p. 94 95. As part of our research project ANAMIA (Ana-mia Sociability: an Online/Offline Social Networks Approach to Eating Disorders), the post has been featured in a number of media venues, including The Economist, Libération, Le Monde, Boing Boing, The Huffingtonpost, CBC Radio Canada, DRadio Wissen, Voice of Russia.]

Tumblr, Pinterest and the toothpaste tube

On February 23rd, 2012 Tumblr announced its decision to turn the screw on self-harm blogs: suicide, mutilation and most prominently thinspiration – i.e. the ritualized exchange of images and quotes meant to inspire readers to be thin. This cultural practice is distinctive of the pro-ana (anorexia nervosa), pro-mia (bulimia) and pro-ED (eating disorders) groups online: blogs, forums, and communities created by people suffering from eating-related conditions, who display a proactive stance and critically abide by medical advice.

A righteous limitation of harmful contents or just another way to avoid liability by marginalizing a stigmatized subculture? Whatever your opinion, it might not come as a surprise that the disbanded pro-ana Tumblr bloggers are regrouping elsewhere. Of all places, they are surfacing on Pinterest, the up-and-coming photo-sharing site. Here’s how Sociology in Focus relates the news: (more…)

EnemyGraph: blasphème ou ruse de l’amitié sur Facebook ?

On m’a souvent entendu parler d’amitié et d’inimitié dans les réseaux sociaux. De l’amitié à l’heure du numérique, autant dans le chapitre « Mon friend n’est pas mon ami » (v. mon ouvrage Les liaisons numériques, Paris, Seuil, p. 270-277 – que vous trouvez résumées ici) que dans plusieurs interventions publiques  détaillant les tenants et les aboutissants du friending. D’inimitié, plus récemment, dans mon effort de théoriser la conflictualité et les liens négatifs en ligne.

 Donc, quand le toujours admirable @affordanceinfo m’a signalé aujourd’hui le lancement d’EnemyGraph, une nouvelle app qui permet de déclarer des ennemis sur Facebook, j’ai fait un bond de surprise. Créé à la University of Texas par Dean Terry et ses étudiants Bradley Griffith et Harrison Massey, l’application promet de faire le contre-pied de l’ethos de l’amour et de l’amitié forcées de Facebook et de réaliser le rêve longtemps refoulé d’un bouton dislike. Mais comment ça marche ? Selon Terry le tout est basé sur la notion de « dissonance sociale », voire l’évaluation des liens existants entre usagers selon leur désignation de personnes, choses et lieux qui leur déplaisent:

EnemyGraph is an application that allows you to list your “enemies”. Any Facebook friend or user of the app can be an enemy. More importantly, you can also make any page or group on Facebook an “enemy”. This covers almost everything including people, places and things. During our testing testing triangles and q-tips were trending, along with politicians, music groups, and math.
Dean Terry EnemyGraph Facebook Application [visité 26 Mar. 12]

“Anamia” social networks and online privacy: our Sunbelt XXXII presentations (Redondo Beach, March 18, 2012)

[This is a joint post with Paola Tubaro’s Blog]

So, here we are in the (intermittently) sunny state of California for Sunbelt XXXII, the International Network for Social Network Analysis (INSNA) annual conference. This year the venue is Redondo Beach and the highlights are both old and new stars of social network analysis:  David Krackhardt, Tom Valente, Barry Wellman, Emmanuel Lazega, Anuška Ferligoj, Ron Burt, Bernie Hogan, Carter Butts, Christina Prell, etc.

Here are our presentations, both delivered on Sunday 18th, March 2012.

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Taking liberties: why feeling closer on social media can lead to higher conflictuality

A short note on an apparent paradox highlighted by Ronald E. Anderson on the blog Compassionate Societies. While commenting on a recent PEW survey on the “tone of life” on social networking sites, the author points out two interesting facts :

1)  heavy social media users are prone to conflict (and, more generally, a lot of users experience negative interactions, physical fight and even end up breaking friendships because of online communication)…

2) ..yet overall people declare they feel closer to others, more compassionate and feeling good about themselves.

How can this contradiction be explained? According to the author “social networking is a mixed bag of good and bad”. I, for one, would like to suggest another way of interpreting these results: social media users are not hostile despite the fact they feel closer to one another. Rather, they are hostile because they feel closer. Closeness primarily comes to mean that users approach social media sites with higher expectations about friendship and togetherness. Social networking might thus imply adopting a social style characterized by a hypertrophied sense of intimacy, verging on liberty – like in the expression “taking liberties”: being too friendly in a way that shows a lack of respect to others.

Facebook “friending” rhetoric plays a part in this process, of course: by spreading an irenic vision of harmonious social life, any deviation from emotional proximity is perceived as a major break in the code of communication. In this sense, while interacting in the informal environment of social media, individuals not only fail to cultivate deference, but they even come to think of it as a transgression of an implicit social norm, as a manifestation of distance – or, worse, indifference – that compromises social cohesion and introduces an element of mistrust conducive to conflict.

Small data vs. Big Data (slides du séminaire EHESS, Antonio A. Casilli, 15 févr. 2012)

La séance du 15 février 2012 de mon séminaire EHESS Étudier les cultures du numérique : approches théoriques et empiriques a été l’occasion de proposer quelques éléments de réflexion sur:

Small data vs. Big data : comment mener des expériences dans les médias sociaux

L’explosion récente des « Big data » (traitement automatique d’énormes bases de données natives du Web) a été saluée par les chercheurs en sciences humaines et sociales comme une véritable révolution. Néanmoins, certaines voix se lèvent pour dénoncer les limites épistémologiques, méthodologiques, et éthiques de cette approche. La méthode ethno-computationnelle développée par Tubaro & Casilli (2010) permet de dépasser ces limites en ayant recours à des petits jeux de données qualitatives (small data) utilisés pour calibrer des simulations multi-agents. Loin de produire des « prophéties », cette approches permet de mener des expériences in silico dans des situations d’information imparfaite et asymétrique. Deux études récentes (l’une relative aux effets de la censure des médias sociaux géolocalisés dans des situations de violence civile, l’autre sur la diversité culturelle sur Facebook) illustreront cette démarche.

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A century of McLuhan: understanding social media

I was among the invited speakers of the McLuhan centenary conference McLuhan100 Then Now Next at the University of Toronto. So I’m back from a full week of scientific research, art, concerts, and conversations with great contemporary media scholars such as Ian Bogost, Barry Wellman, Arthur Kroker, Jay Bolter, Derrick de Kerckhove, Peppino Ortoleva, Mike Wesch, Joshua Meyrowitz, Michaël Oustinoff, Hervé Fischer. But enough with the name dropping. Here’s my own presentation (slides+text), where I mix up McLuhan, Merton, Facebook and Teilhard de Chardin. Enjoy.

Text of the presentation: (more…)

Six interesting facts about social networking

A few interesting facts about Social Networking Services (mainly Facebook) taken from the recent report issued on June 16 2011 by PEW Internet and American Life. The report, whose title is Social networking sites and our lives is authored by Keith Hampton, Lauren Sessions Goulet, Lee Rainie, Kristen Purcell. Food for thought.

Fact #1: The average age of adult SNS users is now 38.

Sure, as user base increases, the gen Y is ‘caught up’ by gen X-ers, Baby Boomers and the like…

http://pewinternet.org/Reports/2011/Technology-and-social-networks/Summary.aspx

Fact #2: 26% of SNS members are now aged more than 50 (vs. 16% aged 18-22)

Definitely the ‘digital immigrants’ are catching up big time. But this was already clear from the 2009 Generations online Pew Report.

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Parution de "Cultures du numérique" (Ed. du Seuil)

Le voilà entre mes main : le premier exemplaire de « Cultures du numérique » que j’ai dirigé et dont j’ai le plaisir de vous annoncer la parution aux Editions du Seuil.

Il s’agit du numéro 88 de la revue Communications, un numéro spécial qui marque le cinquante ans de cette glorieuse publication fondée en 1961 par Roland Barthes et Edgar Morin. Nous en sommes tous très fiers, et à juste titre. Ce numéro est appelé à devenir un ouvrage de référence pour les étudiants et les chercheurs qui – en nombre croissant – s’intéressent au Web et à ses conséquences sociétales, culturelles, politiques.

« Cultures du numérique » propose un panorama des études francophones sur les usages des technologies de l’information et de la communication. Vingt-trois chercheurs, venant des domaines les plus disparates, ont participé : psychologues, philosophes, médecins, économistes, sociologues, experts de digital humanities et de sciences de la communication.

Voilà la table des matières complète, (more…)

The number of my online friends and Dunbar's not-so-hidden scientific agenda

First of all, you might want to read this remarkably insightful blog post featured in Paola Tubaro’s Blog – about a recent article on social network size, online friending and Dunbar’s number published in Cyberpsychology. Here’s the complete reference to the article:

ResearchBlogging.orgPollet, T., Roberts, S., & Dunbar, R. (2011). Use of Social Network Sites and Instant Messaging Does Not Lead to Increased Offline Social Network Size, or to Emotionally Closer Relationships with Offline Network Members Cyberpsychology, Behavior, and Social Networking, 14 (4), 253-258 DOI: 10.1089/cyber.2010.0161

As for the analysis, let me just quote from Paola (it’s not that I’m lazy, but I tend to agree with pretty much evertything she says, especially because she draws heavily on previous posts and conferences of mine dealing with the same subjects ;P)

https://paolatubaro.wordpress.com/2011/05/14/how-many-friends-do-you-have/

How many friends do you have? « Paola Tubaro’s Blog

What I would like to add here is just that the article might not be all that interesting, weren’t it authored by Robin “Dunbar’s number” Dunbar himself. (more…)

Friendship changes, but 'friending' stays the same across cultures

Following in Judith Donath and dana boyd’s researches on online friendship and drawing on social network analysis of tie formation, this Hui-Jung Chang article sets up to detect cross-cultural variations in ‘friending’ between a US-based service (Myspace) and a Taiwan one (Wretch).

ResearchBlogging.org
Hui-Jung Chang (2010). Social networking friendships: A cross-cultural comparison of network structure between MySpace and Wretch Journal of Cultural Science, 3 (2).

Understandably, Taiwanese and US cultures have different approaches to friendship. The author characterizes Taiwan as a more collectivistic culture where explicit messages and content exchange are less important that  the context (all the information either coded in the physical setting or internalized in the person) for establishing who’s your friend. US, on the other side, is defined as a “low-context”, individualistic culture [note: pictures are just random. Neither peace sign nor thumbs up in photos appear to bear any significant effect on friendship formation]. Consequently, Hui-Jung Chang formulates the hypothesis that Taiwanese offline friends networks are larger and denser. Does the same apply to online networks?

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