Studying the rise of social websites?
September 16, 2009 5:49 AM   Subscribe

I am keenly interested in the social aspects and pervasive expansion of sites like Facebook.

Is this a field of study? Are there good books available to understand this phenomena?
posted by toastchee to Computers & Internet (5 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
Are there good books available to understand this phenomenon?

The phrase you'd want to search for is "social media." As a starter, here's my Goodreads list of to-read books on this subject, though they're probably more slanted toward the business side of things, rather than the expansion of social media sites themselves:

The Facebook Era: Tapping Online Social Networks to Build Better Products, Reach New Audiences, and Sell More Stuff by Clara Shih

Secrets of Social Media Marketing: How to Use Online Conversations and Customer Communities to Turbo-Charge Your Business! by Paul Gillin

Facebook Marketing: Leverage Social Media to Grow Your Business by Steve Holzner

Groundswell: Winning in a World Transformed by Social Technologies by Charlene Li

Convergence Culture: Where Old and New Media Collide by Henry Jenkins

Twitter Revolution: How Social Media and Mobile Marketing is Changing the Way We Do Business & Market Online by Warren Whitlock
posted by runningwithscissors at 6:28 AM on September 16, 2009 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Search for posts about Danah Boyd on boingboing. I think that might be a good starting point.

People do study this stuff in academia, but I think referring to it as one 'field' is misleading (for example, MMORPGs are being studied from all sorts of angles - I recently heard about a study based on psychological theories of morality in MMORPGs). Researchers from countless disciplines are engaging with the social online, and have been for quite some time. It might be more useful to come at it from the opposite angle and identify your preferred academic discipline before approaching the subject.
posted by SebastianKnight at 6:29 AM on September 16, 2009

Oh, and as well as searching "social media", look into "new media". I've heard this phrase used to similar effect in academic circles.

I'm not an academic and nor do I know much about this sort of research, but I've spoken with a couple of professor/lecturer sorts and this stuff really is being investigated in a very serious and academic way.
posted by SebastianKnight at 6:40 AM on September 16, 2009

Best answer: I am an academic, and while I don't do research on Facebook specifically, this is one of my teaching areas. Social media is really a term used more by business and marketing, and although it is sometimes used in academia, there are other, more precise terms that will aid your searching. Specifically, if you do a Google scholar search for the term "social network site" (or sometimes "networking") you will turn up lots and lots and lots of good references. Most of this research is going to be in articles rather than books.

New media is a really, really broad term, and while it may turn up some stuff related to social networking, it will also bring up a lot of other stuff.

As SebastianKnight said, these new sites and technologies are being investigated from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. There is definitely quite a lot of research on SNSs in my field, communication, but there are also people studying these phenomena in sociology, anthropology, linguistics, political science and journalism, just to name a few disciplines.
posted by DiscourseMarker at 7:02 AM on September 16, 2009

This guy studies YouTube's anthropological effects. It's really fascinating (most of it), though there is a lot of self-congratulation. The web site he links to is sort of borked (it doesn't load in Firefox)
posted by i8ny3x at 12:09 PM on September 16, 2009

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