虚拟-数字方法的终结

The End of the Virtual – Digital Methods (2009)
原文地址:http://www.govcom.org/rogers_oratie.pdf
本文指出互联网研究方法论上的转向。

Social Networking Sites & Post-demographics

‘We define social networking websites here as sites where users can create a profile and connect that profile to other profiles for the purposes of making an explicit personal
network.’
Thus begins the study of American teenage use of such sites as MySpace and Facebook, conducted for the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Surveys were made. 91% of the respondents use the sites to ‘manage friendships’; less than a quarter use the sites to ‘flirt’. Other leading research into social networking sites considers such issues as presenting oneself and managing one’s status online, the different ‘social classes’ of users of MySpace and Facebook and the relationship between real-life friends and ‘friended’ friends.
Another set of work, often from software-making arenas, concerns how to make use of the copious amounts of data contained in online profiles, especially interests and tastes. I would like to dub this latter work ‘post-demographics.’ Post-demographics could be thought of as the study of the data in social networking platforms, and, in particular, how profiling is, or may be, performed. Of particular interest here are the potential outcomes of building tools on top of profiling platforms. What kinds of findings may be made from mashing up the data, or what may be termed meta-profiling?
Conceptually, with the ‘post’ prefixed to demographics, the idea is to stand in contrast to how the study of demographics organizes groups, markets and voters in a sociological sense.
It also marks a theoretical shift from how demographics have been used ‘bio-politically’ (to govern bodies) to how post-demographics are employed ‘info-politically,’ to steer or
recommend certain information to certain people.
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The term post-demographics also invites new methods for the study of social networks, where of interest are not the traditional demographics of race, ethnicity, age, income, and educational level – or derivations thereof such as class – but rather of tastes, interests, favorites, groups, accepted invitations, installed apps and other information that comprises an online profile and its accompanying baggage. Demographers normally would analyze official records (births, deaths, marriages) and survey populations, with census-taking being the most well known of those undertakings. Profilers, contrariwise, have users input data themselves in platforms that create and maintain social relations. They capture and make use of information from users of online platforms.


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