Research into social media practices and social media practices for research

Downtown Toronto

Downtown Toronto last Friday

I’m currently working in Canada, where I am a guest of McMaster University, hosted by Dr Brian Detlor.

This week, amongst other activities at McMaster, I am delivering two invited papers. The first paper, which I am presenting twice to two different audiences on Monday 14th August, is about social media research undertaken by staff and students within the Centre for Social Informatics at Edinburgh Napier University. The slides for this presentation are available on SildeShare and below.

In the early part of this presentation I discuss some projects that I completed in the mid-noughties. These historic examples were focused on answering the following questions:

  1. How can social media platforms promote reflective learning?
  2. To what extent is online information sharing socially motivated?
  3. What are the risks and opportunities of social media adoption for collaborative work purposes in business environments?

I then elaborate on the following answers to the questions:

  1. A bit (but not as much as you might think): see Hall, H. & Davison, B. (2007). Social software as support in hybrid learning environments: the value of the blog as a tool for reflective learning and peer support. Library and Information Science Research, 29(2), 163-187. (DOI 10.1016/j.lisr.2007.04.007.) [Full text of manuscript available from the Edinburgh Napier repository.]
  2. A lot – see Hall, H., & Widen-Wulff, G. (2008). Social exchange, social capital and information sharing in online environments: lessons from three case studies. Studia Humaniora Ouluensia, 8, 73-86. [Full text of manuscript available from the Edinburgh Napier repository.]
  3. Various (with poor implementation the biggest risk) – see Hall, H., Golzari, S., Blaswick, B., & Goody, M. (2008). Opportunity and risk in social computing environments. London: TFPL Ltd. [Full text of report available from the Edinburgh Napier repository.]

I then outline three on-going CSI projects have social media as their foci. The first is concerned with personal online reputation management; the second is an investigation into the information behaviours of young jobseekers; and the third explores online information and knowledge sharing practices amongst public sector workers. Although these projects are not yet complete, we have already been able to publish some preliminary findings from them, and these will be related in the presentation.

In the period since we started to lead research projects on social media for information and knowledge sharing, we have become increasingly aware of how we, as academic researchers, can use social media as tools to develop our own personal online profiles for the purposes of promoting our research. In the last part of my presentation I explain personal decisions to build and maintain profiles on a range of online platforms for academic work purposes, and give advice on the minimum that I believe any academic should be doing to ensure that he/she has a presence online.

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