Bradley Hall A/B
Monday July 9, 2012
Documenting Personal Contents on the Web: Is Facebook Only for Networking?
Social networking on the Web has become very popular in recent years. Facebook is one of the most popular services as more than 750 million people around the world use this service actively and more than 50% of them access their accounts in any given day. This service has become a useful tool for communication, along with email and phone. One interesting aspect of communicating with others using this service is that this service allows users to converse through various contents and formats, including their own posts, photos, web links, music, news feeds, video clips, etc. This phenomenon implies an important question to information professionals about personal documentation on the web. As many users use Facebook to network with their friends through their contents in various nature, this service can also play a role as a personal repository to document their lives day by day whether or not users consider it this way. As previous studies have identified that email also functions for personal archives, Facebook may function as a personal repository for their memory.
There have been a great amount of studies regarding Facebook in various fields, including sociology, communication, economics, marketing, psychology, etc. However, in the information science field, there is only limited literature available, those mainly regarding the usage of Facebook in relation to online information sharing. This study intends to look at how the Facebook is used in terms of personal documentation: how users record their everyday lives; what are the activities they perform in regards to archive such contents; whether they perceive their Facebook activities as their personal documentation; and what factors there are to influence their activities of personal documentation. We conduct an online survey to ask these questions to Facebook users. From the understanding about the Facebook users’ activities and demands, we discuss about personal archiving on the web and the role of information professionals.
Reading Erving Goffman’s Ideas from an Archives Perspective
Erving Goffman (1922-1982) is an American sociologist. His book, The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life, published in 1959, has been frequently cited in many scholarly writings beyond sociology. In this book, Goffman discusses performative aspects of self-presentation in everyday social life. He uses the metaphor of the theater where individuals on stage perform for audiences. Based on his micro-observations and analysis of everyday life, Goffman suggests impression management as a framework to study interpersonal social interaction.
I was pointed to The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life by my advisor and another faculty mentor at the School of Information at the University of Texas at Austin, when I started to explore and review literature for my dissertation study several years ago. Despite of my limited knowledge of sociology, I was attracted to Goffman’s theory and concepts, such as impression management, self as performer and a performed character, and private self and public identities. My dissertation study investigates social, cognitive, and emotional aspects of personal digital archives in relation to the construction of self. Although Goffman derives his theory from the domain of face-to-face interaction, I think that his concepts offer a valuable ground to frame the phenomenon of my study: individuals’ personal digital archiving practices in their everyday lives.
From an archives perspective, Goffman’s impression management theory, in particular, is an interesting concept that made me think about the social aspect of personal archives: Projection of one’s public self-image in her/his personal digital archives concerning known and/or unknown audiences. For example, when personal papers are donated to memory institutions, will donors have intentions or wishes regarding how their lives and personalities are portrayed through their personal collections?
In this research presentation, I would like to share my reading of theory and concepts that Goffman introduced in The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life from an archives perspective, as used in my dissertation research.
The Biblioblogs of Today, Tomorrow?
Several neologisms have emerged reflecting academics’ blog publications, including bloggership in the legal scholarship realm (e.g., Caron, 2006; Smith, 2006), and blogademia for academe in general (Saper, 2006). Our field has its own: the biblioblogosphere. This neologism, first introduced by Schneider in 2004, as cited by Stephens (2008), comprises the institutional publication of blogs of libraries and the personal, typically professionally-oriented publication of blogs by practitioners and LIS-aligned educators and researchers. This research presentation presents preliminary findings from a descriptive study of bibliobloggers, examining their attitudes and perceptions of their blogs in relation to the system of scholarly communication, including issues related to promotion and review, their preferences for digital preservation, and their respective blog publishing behaviors and blog characteristics influencing preservation action. This study is a follow-up to an earlier study of blogging scholars from the fields of history, economics, law, biology, chemistry and physics, for which several key findings were presented at AERI 2011 (Hank, 2011). This particular class of biblioblogs and bibliobloggers presents an excellent opportunity to extend and better understand the phenomenon of blogging in academe, the representativeness of blogs within academia’s collective scholarly record, and implications for long-term stewardship of this form. Further, bibliobloggers present an exceptional case to study these issues when considering their dual role as publishers contributing to this record and, in reflection of their professional roles, ultimately as guardians of the record. This presentation will provide a focused analysis of preliminary findings related to bibliobloggers’ blog preservation preferences, and offer a comparison to the findings reported in the earlier study of scholar-bloggers in history, economics, law, biology, chemistry and physics. In that study, results showed that these scholars were generally interested in blog preservation with a strong sense of personal responsibility. Most felt their blogs should be preserved for both personal and public access and use into the indefinite, rather than short-term, future, with respondents identified themselves as most responsible for blog preservation. Concerning capability, they perceived blog service providers, hosts, and networks as most capable. National and institutional-based libraries and archives, as well as institutional IT departments, were perceived as least responsible and least capable for preservation of their respective blogs.