Information Management Public Lecture (March 25, 2011)

[important]Title: Help! My Mom’s on Facebook: Combating the lowest common denominator culture in online social networks
Speaker: Dr. Bernie Hogan, Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford
Time: Friday March 25, 12:00-1:00pm
Organizers: Dr. Anatoliy Gruzd at the Social Media Lab and Dr. Jeannette C.M. Janssen and Evangelos E. Milios at the “Modelling and Mining of Network Information Spaces” Initiative at Dalhousie University
Sponsors: SSHRC & MITACS[/important]

Traditional interfaces to social network sites (such as Facebook, Twitter and MySpace) offer users few cues about the underlying friendship structure. Diverse weak ties such as neighbours, parents, workmates, family, high school chums, church mates and sports teams are represented in one-dimensional lists of ‘friends’. These lists make it difficult to work with information that requires situational norms (such as complaining about a boss, but still wanting to be employed expressions of religious faith without offending non-believers).  This talk gives an overview of past literature as well as interviews conducted in June of 2010 that suggest first a trend towards the lowest common denominator of possible discussion topics (reducing this potential public sphere to tourist pictures, baby photos and today’s lunch menu) as emerging alternative mechanisms used to resist or combat this lowest common denominator. The talk will feature both interview text as well as detailed visual network representations (or sociograms) that illustrate this emergent tension.


Bernie Hogan is a Research Fellow at the Oxford Internet Institute. He specializes in novel methods for online data capture and analysis, especially via social media. Recent work has focused on the capture analysis of Facebook networks, particularly through his application namegenweb, which downloads a social network for visualization in network programs such as NodeXL. Past work included an online audit study of racism on Craigslist, pen and paper methods for visualizing social networks, the analysis of profile photos and techniques for online surveys of spouses and partners. Bernie received his dissertation from the University of Toronto in 2009 under Barry Wellman. This thesis won the Dordick award for Best Dissertation from the Communication and Technology section of the International Communication Association.