Perspectives on Facebook by shuifanglj


									Student One

Professor Stedman

ENC 1101

September 16, 2009

                      Annotated Bibliography: Perspectives on Facebook

Hayes, Frank. “About Face.” Computerworld 23 Feb. 2009: 40. Academic Search Premier. Web.

      1 June 2009.

              In this article by Computerworld‟s senior news columnist, Hayes describes the

      public outcry surrounding Facebook‟s decision to retain ownership rights to content

      posted by users (and subsequent changing of that position). He briefly describes the

      conflict, including a brief summary of how the news was leaked and distributed online,

      but he also makes it clear that his main thesis doesn‟t have to do with Facebook itself.

      Instead, his point is that “We are no longer in the IT business” (40). In other words,

      people who work on the technological side of creating and managing software and

      hardware will increasingly have to consider issues of “business, law, public relations and

      innovation” (40), all of which were major players in the Facebook debacle. His thesis

      isn‟t really more complicated than that; he simply wants to inform his community about

      the implications of this story for their future work.

              His audience is clear (the IT workers who read Computerworld), but the way he

      addresses them is distinctly non-techie. The evidence he draws on is little more than

      summaries of news stories, after all; he doesn‟t rely on any specific legal proceedings or

      technology-speak, and so on. Hayes‟s strong point is that he serves as the interpreter of

      this story for his colleagues. He‟s a mediator, a storyteller who translates something into
       familiar terms. Still, he is careful to be exact about the original source of the blog post

       about Facebook that started the whole conversation, citing the source and the article title

       so that others could find it later, a move that lends him an added sense of credibility.

Martin, Jake. “Facebooked: A Critique of a Cultural Phenomenon.” America: The National

       Catholic Weekly 18 May 2009: 22-23. Academic Search Premier. Web. 3 June 2009.

              Martin‟s short opinion piece is simultaneously a praise and a critique of

       Facebook. He supports the design of the site, with its “cool whites and airy blues” (22),

       he appreciates its distance from what he calls the “seedy underbelly” (22) of MySpace,

       and he appreciates its ease of use. However, he also goes into the details of why he

       would rather not reminisce with old people who he has lost contact with and his problem

       with the empty sense of competition that comes from trying to get the most friends. He

       saves his main thesis until the last paragraph, where he writes, “Ultimately, Facebook is

       just another way of giving people the illusion that they are participating in the world

       without having to leave the isolated confines of their cubicle, office or bedroom” (23). In

       other words, Martin seems to dislike the way the site pretends to draw people together as

       it really, in his eyes, draws them apart, since people are most likely to be sitting at

       different computers when communicating this way.

              Martin makes it clear that he is a Jesuit priest writing for a Catholic magazine.

       This context gives the article a feeling of, “Now an authority figure will weigh

       authoritatively on an important cultural phenomenon of our time.” He deliberately plays

       with this readerly expectation, writing a full five paragraphs that make it sound like he

       loves Facebook before turning the tables on his readers at the beginning of the sixth: “So

       what is the problem with Facebook? All of the above” (22). In that context, it makes
       sense that he doesn‟t summon any information beyond his own personal experience;

       almost every reason he gives for not liking Facebook (except his overarching problem in

       his final paragraph) is supported with the reasons he doesn‟t want to remember high

       school. Some people, of course, do appreciate communicating with ease with people that

       one might not otherwise take the time to stay in touch with, but Martin is more interested

       in describing his own personal experience. I can imagine that in another context—say, if

       presenting official findings on Facebook to a group of priests—he might be more

       interested in surveying other Facebook users or seeking statistics on its use.

Seder, J. Patrick, and Shigehiro Oishi. “Ethnic/racial Homogeneity in College Students‟

       Facebook Friendship Networks and Subjective Well-Being.” Journal of Research in

       Personality 43.3 (2009): 438-443. ScienceDirect. Web. 1 June 2009.

              This article presents the results of a formal, academic study of the correlation

       between having diverse friends on Facebook and reporting oneself as being satisfied with

       life. The researchers studied the profiles of ninety-three first-year students at the

       University of Virginia, seventy-three of whom had filled out a number of surveys about

       how they rated their personal well-being. They authors counted the number of “European

       American” and “Non-European American” friends each participant had on Facebook.

       Their findings were that the more European-American friends a European-American

       student had, the more likely that student was to report “higher levels of subjective well-

       being” (440), while non-European American students‟ reporting of well-being did not

       correlate with the ethnicity/race of their Facebook friends. The authors wisely add, “In

       many respects, our results present more questions than answers” (442); they tentatively

       suggest that the findings may have to do with the extent to which “„new people‟ appear to
      be similar to (and dissimilar to) „friends from home‟” (442), or that students‟ are more

      able to make satisfying friendships quickly with people who they perceive as similar to

      themselves, which would help explain why these findings don‟t line up with those of

      other studies that show that diverse educational contexts have a number of social and

      academic benefits to students.

             The authors are writing for an academic audience of researchers interested in the

      intersections of technology, psychology, and sociology. This is evident in their essay‟s

      large number of citations from other academic journals and in its organization, which

      follows the traditional formal organization of an essay published in a social sciences

      academic journal: introduction, method, results, discussion, and conclusion. As fits this

      kind of essay, the authors blend two types of evidence: secondary evidence from previous

      scientific studies, which is mostly collected in the introduction and discussion sections,

      and the primary evidence that they collected themselves. As is typical, they explain the

      method of that data collection in depth, allowing future researchers to try to replicate

      their results if they choose. Overall, the article has a strong feeling of authority that

      comes from its broad collection of citations and its well-planned research. The biggest

      problem that I see (though I admit I am not a psychologist) is the smallness of the

      research sample: a relatively small number of students who all took the same class at the

      same university. For these findings to bear much weight in my mind overall, I would

      want to see a study that analyzes data from thousands of students at different points in

      their academic careers, and from different universities.

Van Buskirk, Eliot. “Your Facebook Profile Makes Marketers‟ Dreams Come True.” Epicenter., 28 Apr. 2009. Web. 4 June 2009.
       In this detailed blog post, Van Buskirk describes some of the ways that marketers

mine the data that users post on their Facebook profile pages. After all, the information

on profiles reflects more than simply what shows or music that users watch; a post shows

that the users actual liked the content enough to share with friends. This changes

marketers‟ strategies, allowing them to get a far more accurate picture of users‟

consumption habits. Some examples Van Buskirk includes are the company Colligent,

which gathers data to sell to analysts in music and other industries; Hollywood Records‟

use of social networking data to learn that the Jonas Brothers were popular in Latin

American markets; and Columbia Records‟ individual-specific marketing of a special

edition of a Bob Dylan album. Of course, some people are troubled by the privacy-

invasion implications of this kind of marketing, including those at the Electronic Privacy

Information Center, whose executive director Van Buskirk also interviews.

       Although the article is primarily descriptive, rather than argument-based, Van

Buskirk‟s tone is cautionary, which he establishes in his first sentence: “Social

networking feels free, but we pay for it in ways that may not be readily apparent.” He

ends on a more conciliatory note, suggesting that the benefits users get for free may

imply that we shouldn‟t complain when marketers also get free data. This negotiation of

extremes—not coming out and staking a strong claim on either side—may be a sign that

Van Buskirk is trying to appeal to a wide variety of readers. Writing for the Epicenter

blog (with the subtitle “Mind our tech business”) on, he can expect readers

from a wide range of people interested in how culture and technology affect each other,

including a number of Facebook users and probably a good deal of marketers as well. He

seems to be saying, “Hey everyone, let‟s make sure we‟re aware of what‟s going on here;
       Facebook makes money through advertising, so we should all know exactly how that

       works.” His evidence is convincing, especially for this kind of general audience: he

       interviews executives from organizations on both side of the privacy debate and includes

       a graph showing “% of Fans mentioning „Body Type‟” (presumably in their profile

       information). As an introduction to the topic, then, this post feels informative and valid;

       however, if delving further into the debate, more voices would need to be heard, perhaps

       in interviews with a wider variety of organizations—we never hear from Facebook

       itself—and more statistical information to back up the claims made.

Waters, Richard D., et al. “Engaging Stakeholders Through Social Networking: How Nonprofit

       Organizations are Using Facebook.” Public Relations Review 35.2 (2009): 102-106.

       ScienceDirect. Web. 1 June 2009.

              The authors make their purpose for this essay clear at the end of their second

       paragraph: “to examine how nonprofit organizations use Facebook to engage their

       stakeholders and foster relationship growth” (102). Their thesis, based on the research

       they conducted on Facebook, is that a profile alone won‟t automatically lead to benefits

       for nonprofits; instead, these organizations must keep in mind important factors like fully

       using interactive features, multimedia, and wise use of applications on their profile pages.

       To study this issue, the researchers first made a list of the features they expected to see on

       these organizations‟ profiles, using the scholarly research on social networking and their

       own experiences as guidelines. They then studied the profiles of 275 randomly selected

       profiles of nonprofit organizations to see which of these features were actually used.

              Much like the Seder and Shigehiro study (above), this piece was clearly written

       for fellow academics in the social sciences, as is clear from the many scholarly sources
the essay cites and the formal, scientific organization the paper follows. The evidence

Waters et al. use is a collection of secondary research on social networking and nonprofit

organizations that was printed in academic journals, a small collection of non-academic

news stories and self-reported data from Facebook, all of which contextualizes the

primary data that the researchers collected by observing and analyzing actual Facebook

profile pages. The sources collected make for a very credible article. Its chief failure is

the glaring omission of information that came from the nonprofits themselves. When

asked directly, would they offer explanations about why they chose to design their profile

pages the way they did? Readers are left uncertain.

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