Small talk in the Digital Age: Making Sense of Phatic Posts

The World Wide Web 2012 conference has started, and I have presented earlier his morning after the keynote talk: Greg Ver Steeg - Information Theoretic Tools for Social Media. I talked about small talk, phatic communication and its functions, and online communication dynamics. How tweets and mundane Facebook updates about weather, food, what you’re doing, where are you doing, and how – are actually healthy for the online communities, human relationships, and sustaining social network systems. I provided plenty of interesting examples (see some of the slides), and had nice and inspiring questions from the audience.

You can read the paper in CEUR online database; I would be happy to read your thoughts and comments here. Check out the paper (pdf), it is available for downloading and reading as part of CEUR Vol-838.

Find my slides uploaded on a SlideShare.

WWW2012 and Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big

Brief information for those coming to WWW2012 – you can check the programme. On Monday I will be presenting at ”Making Sense of Microposts”#MSM2012 workshop.  For others – please take a look at the article I wrote for the Scientific American on better understanding the phatic element of communication as applied to online discourse and networked connectivity.

Phatic Posts: Even the Small Talk Can Be Big  

Social media and micro-blogging have been fascinating to me ever since I first encountered them. In the last 3-4 years there has been an enormous growth in social network sites and in the numbers of people using them, especially on the two most popular services, Facebook and Twitter.

That fascination grew to become a doctoral research focus that has explored the different forms of communication dynamics being formed online. I was, in particular, curious why people post trivial, mundane updates and messages to each other – a behavior I have come to term “phatic posts”. It’s not just young people, but also professionals from different walks of life as well as internet researchers, including myself.

I used to tweet from the airplane before taking off, or being alone at the airport at 5am checking into Twitter to see if anyone’s awake in “my time zone’’, or logging in to my Flickr account to see if someone commented on my latest photography. I was not the only one engaging in such behavior; au contraire, many internet researchers and geeky people I know would demonstrate similar patterns of (more…)

Phatic Communication, or why the little things in social media really matter

I’m very pleased to say that my paper for The World Wide Web 2012 #WWW12 conference got accepted. It is on the phatic aspects of communication in an online sphere. Phatic communication expressions – a concept developed by the anthropologyst Malinowski and expanded on by the linguist Jakobson – denote brief, non dialogue and non-informational discussion or communication exchanges that can also be in the form of different types of signals.

However, in the paper I am arguing that the stuff you think is pointless and does not have a practical information value - your posts on Facebook and Twitter, the likes, the pokes and the tweets about food, weather, the mundane brief status updates – all turn out to have a vital role and social value  that even merits a new phrase – “phatic-posts”  - which the paper coins.

These phatic posts deliver values of staying up-to-date with a micro and macro world of events and news, flirting, chat and public expressions of everyday life and emotions among the participants. The paper explains multiple effects of phatic posts: social, validation, conflict-avoidance, and others. I won’t reveal everything now.

The paper will be published in the ACM SIG proceedings, and if you are curious this Wordle has a summary of (more…)

Connectivity Doesn’t End the Digital Divide, Skills Do #social_media

I wrote an article at the Scientific American blog highlighting digital divides – or digital inequalities, if you prefer – from other perspective, pointing out that these digital divides go far beyond pure infrastructure issues and need to become a key focus of engagement for profit and nonprofit organizations as they continue their missions to develop programs for social and digital inclusion.

Everyone’s talking about internet access: from European media to US media, stressing connectivity issues that merely compounding existing social inequalities as “new digital divides”, as if they are something new in the networked society. They are not.

According to the available measures, the selected indicators (such as gender, income, occupation, online experience, internet penetration, type of internet connection, etc.) are significantly related to the levels of (one’s country) per capita GDP, literacies, education, level of democratization, etc.  Being as one of the contributors for the forthcoming Routledge book on Digital Divide, I have presented some of the findings from my research, where I used the combined methodology: from web desktop analysis to online surveys and qualitative semi-structured interviews (N-125).
(more…)

Networking and participating: Social media for scientists

Tomorrow morning I’m giving an hour session for scientists who want to get familiar with collaborative social media tools for the next three days of the conference ScienceOnline. You know that I was here [Research Triangle Park, NC] last year and that we talked about open access in developed countries, now with the accelerating emerge of participative media and their implementation in everyday life, including any professional area, there are some normative literacy’s to embrace in order to communicate and contribute.

As you know I do not make presentations in a classic way, with too much (or none) words, since this is workshop I will be demonstrating and practice interaction with people who are attending and will report, network and micro blog in the next few days on ScienceOnline2010.

Slide are uploaded on SlideShare, they are fluid in a way that I will add/talk/address/demo other issues on social media, social networks and science.

Mobile live video sharing in education technology and conferences

Today I’ve tested for the very first time Qik – mobile live streaming and sharing tool that connects mobile and social technologies. I had a thought after this demo video with my colleague at UN about implementation of mobile video streaming into not only broadcasting conferences, events, but also in edu technology. The latest news from Qik blog is participating in edu-tech conference where Qik videos will be mapped on Google Earth in its worldwide demonstration so educators from all over the world can test this tool in their classrooms.

Some concern I’m sharing is that streaming over the phone cannot be possible anytime, everywhere, depending on many factors: providers, mobile telecom companies, fees/charges, mobile devices and their ability to support (or not) wifi, availability of free wifi hot spots, social networked compatibility among users, the type/model of mobile phones (see the list of supported phones), etc.

In this test video you’ll notice that during the time I was showing to Gauri Qik, streaming online my first Qik video, and notifying my followers on Twitter,  there were also parallel broadcast of the conference happening somewhere in the world. Beside alerting your friends on Twitter and on the other social networks, there are options for live chat, comments, and geo-mapping. More thoughts about mobile social technologies to come.

Qik test

Follow Friday: Twitter’s display of relations affection?

I got in the previous weeks the feedback by known or unknown Twitterers who are “Follow Friday”-ing me by displaying,  recommending to the others my Twitter ID for various reasons, mostly because they think people they recommend are cool or worthwhile following. Since this communication practice repeated last Friday,  I’ve asked Twitterers what is follow Friday and who actually came up with this idea and why?
In the last few days I’ve read two good blog posts: danah boyd’s view on the communication phenomena of retweeting and Jonathan Zittrain’s thoughts on technical 140 characters barriers on Twitter. Having in mind  that retweeting process is one of the conversation practices on Twitter,  the same can be denoted to the Follow Friday movement as one of the communication behavioristic conventions.

How Follow Friday works? Basically,  Follow Friday helps people recommend other Twitter folks. As a way of recommending people you follow to other users on Twitter, Follow Friday  is presented with hashtag #followfriday or #ff. The purpose is that those who are being recommended would (potentially) gain new followers. After suggesting the name of the twitterer,  the practice is to write why you are recommending them as suggested people to follow. Some twitterers follow this practice, but many people don’t as they just write Twitter user names without stating the reason(s) why one should follow those people. Otherwise, the conversation moves into typical micro memes. Here is an example of the correct usage of FF:
@danbri  because he is the semantic web expert and co-founder of FOAF #followfriday.

The twitterer who came up with the idea of  ‘”Follow Friday” movement said that #ff has lost a lot of its original charm because too many people are making wild recommendations without any justification, in order to collect and get more random followers. I was also asking why Friday? No one so far explained this, either because is TGIF expression that many users say on Twitter every Friday, as it is more relaxed day for casual gaining new followers or because the idea that the creator of this movement likes the music of The Cure (read: Friday, I’m in love! aka I am sharing love for these followers).
This week I had a chance to talk with, above mentioned Twitterer,  Dan Brinkey on work matters, and later I was contemplating the idea of Follow Friday concept as micro communication FOAF (Friend of a friend) convention, and came to conclusion that beside recommendation and connecting people aspect, Follow Friday has communication facet of “describing people, the links between them and the things they create and do” . Twitter user ID’s are describing people, person who recommends the friend is the link, and description line “why I recommend this person to be followed” presents things they create or do. This way FF allows people and groups of people to describe social network relations without the need for a centralization.

Beside suggesting other people to follow and explaining why those people are useful to follow, there is another phenomena that I’ve noticed last Friday: massive retweeting of Follow Fridays of other people tweets. I was in wonder why would people retweet them and came to the thoughts of meta –meme Twitter user’s tagging  and collecting potential followers. This would be an example when sharing (info, contacts) is not caring but rather micro trading (silent request for an expected requirement of following back). What follows next  is an interesting to investigate as  communicative (non) behaviour amongst Twitterers that is in permanent flux.

Some random thoughts on Social web tools and Science 2.0

Recently I was asked by a colleague who is working on the launching of the new information management, knowledge management (KM) system about evaluating social networking tools (read: social software, web 2.0 tools) as potential implementation in the “old” web 1.0 models for web repositories (during past times we had locked archives, not open systems). Which made me think and evaluate that special project we are about to launch (note: since I’m not bringing out insider’s information on my personal blog, but on local work intranet blog, information stated here are my personal reflections on certain issue in general).

Having in mind that the open access databases, archives, repositories are hopefully present in technology, education, science, and that the iron metal systems are behind us (hopefully), let’s say that the technology, science, academia are striving to be open. A friend of mine in our talk this evening mentioned to me good news that his teacher, professor at University is referring kids to use Wikipedia. He also says that he can find, as being soon graduate Computer Science student, very useful tips and data on programming or scrips, coding right in Wikipedia.

The full text documents systems or reference ones beside the interactivity and collaboration (in the case of Wikipedia), and others academic document repository systems at institutional level for capturing and disseminating information- need what we call social software and the usage of social networking tools for sharing. Moving from static locked systems, new ones are a dynamic web-based applications that use an advanced open source software technology for facilitating interoperability and promoting coherence in knowledge management and information exchange (hello web 2.0, and web 3.0!). Such dynamic systems require sharing tools for exchanging data, browsing data, and merging records, collaboration (from Aim, bebo, Linkedin, Digg, Facebook to Twitter, Friendfeed, Netvibes, etc.). For example: something in the form of the widget like you see the one below this post (Share this! or Add this!) for the sake of social bookmarking and exchange data amongst IT professionals, academics, social networkers, researchers, everyday Web users.

And today another colleague asked me to talk about Twitter’s purpose and usability in such systems. I will just mention one thing here as it requires deeper analysis: Twitter is useful not only for dissemination of information or sharing any information, but also as interactive collaborative playground where everybody is there (Here comes everybody!) and especially after 3 years of being present not only as as micro-blogging tool but as well as a space for networked publics that looks like (and is) micro-global village with individuals role in it. So why Twitter? Simply, because everyone is there. Your allies. Some people more or less on Facebook or My Space or Linkedin, but Twitters’ infrastructure’s been spread in all human activities. Including science. Technology. Academic world. Celeb-circustry. You name it.

I’m looking forward to see how open access systems will and are responding to current changes in Social web fluctuations, but as far as we know it using social bookmarking, sharing, social software tools in general didn’t hurt any sci-tech system. It can make it only to be more open and dynamic.

where analogue and digital meets: twittering on the beach

Literally. A week or something ago I took mini vacation on the south of Italy where I’ve spent recuperating time enjoying spring/summer sun, Mediterranean sea, beautiful air and sunsets, and couldn’t help but to create a tweet in the sand. The place where analogue and digital meets:

More on my Flickr. Still contemplating idea for photo-log book for my 365 days project. Any ideas?

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