Social Media and Public Opinion – Full Thesis Published.

I have finally found the time to fully publish my thesis about Social Media and Public Opinion on this site. You can download the thesis here, click on “Thesis.” in the main menu above or simply click on the cover image underneath.

The Cover Page of the Printed Thesis

The Cover Page of the Printed Thesis

This thesis was written and defended as the final assignment (memoria de máster) of the Màster en Interculturalitat i Polítiques Comunicatives en la Societat de la Informació (Master in Interculturality and Communication Policies in the Information Society) at the Facultat de Filologia, Traducció i Comunicació at Universitat de València and was rewarded with a grade of 95%.

It is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported (More information @ http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/3.0/deed.en_US).

 

Social Network Size.

In his 1993 study Robin Dunbar took a look at the proportion of the cortical size (the outer part of the brain, that is involved in higher functions such as spatial reasoning, conscious thought, and language) to the total brain size, and compared the results with group sizes and language of humans beings. Dunbar developed an equation to calculate an average group size that a human being is able to overlook. The result was 147.8, with a rather wide range of possible variation from 100.2 to 231.1. These cognitive limitations of stable social relationships have come to be known as Dunbar’s number (Dunbar, 1993). Continue reading

Thoughts on Social Media and Small Talk.

Again a very interesting podcast episode (again in German, sorry) has left me thinking about the topic of social media’s effects on small talk:

I think everybody who uses Twitter or Facebook recently has experienced a similar situation as the following. Saturday night you go out with your friend and you tell her how your week was.

You say: “Wow … crazy, on Tuesday I have found a 50 Euro bill in the street.”
Your friend: “Yeah I know, I have read it”

Of course she knows the story because you have twittered about it immediately.

In retrospect you might realize that the intention about the 50 Euro story was not to share this experience, but it is rather a tool for the initiation of more profound conversation, hence small talk (this must not be the only intention though, it could also be a tool to strengthen the relationship, but lets stick with the example).

Well, what has happened? Continue reading

Effectiveness of Social Media Bots.

To measure a machines success in imitating human behavior various techniques can be applied. This is commonly known as the Turing test, as developed by Alan Turing (1950). The effectiveness of bots can also be evaluated using a classical Turing test where the quantity and the quality of a bots output is measured and tested on a human test person.

Ineffective countermeasures:

This image shows a CAPTCHASocial network services such as Facebook have introduced certain security techniques to identify bots from humans such as CAPTCHAs (machine unreadabla pictures that can only be parsed by a human user) or automatic detection of massive friending, fake profile names and other unregular behavior. The effectivness of these measures is limited as Huber, et al. (2009) conlude: Continue reading

Social Bot Design Strategies.

At the time of writing social bots have still been barley examined. Only few academic research can be found on this topic and it is only possible to identify few design approaches of sophisticated social media bots. The few documented approaches have been published by researchers. It is to assume that there are other social bots that have not been identified yet.

We can identify social bots of three types: Continue reading

Social Media Product Design
affects Communication.

The result of social media communication depends greatly on the design of the social media product one uses. Just comparing the two most popular social media services Facebook and Twitter we immediately understand how different communication can become. Not only has the underlying social network a different typology and is based on different relationships but the way we post comments is highly different.

Comments on Twitter are limited to a length of 140 characters. This limitation has historical reasons and derives from the character limitation of SMS. In the beginning Twitter was very focused on providing their service via SMS. Still, nowadays this limitation has remained to be very Continue reading

Introduction to social bots.

Bots, also known as Web Robots or Internet Bots, are software that is used to do simple and repetetive tasks to substitute human labor. The most widespread use of bots is in web site spidering or web site crawling where these programs crawl and index web sites to create a map of the internet.

Bots are part of the internet since the very beginning. There is a growing number of bot types that can be encounter nowadays. Apart from web crawlers, bots have been widely used as spambots to distribute spam emails or as chatterbots (also called talk bots, chatterboxes or artificial conversational entitities), bots that simulate human conversation, mainly in a chat room or instant messaging environment, and intent to fool human users into thinking that the program is a human being. Continue reading

Scalability of Social Networks.

Doing my usual research I have encountered an interesting report today which I would like to mention here.

The report is called “The Strength of Internet Ties. The internet and email aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions” (Rainie et al., 2006)

Focusing on email communication the report describes what effects the internet has on our social network and how it enables new possibilities to encounter help and make decisions. I do not want to talk about the Help and Decision part in this blog post, although it is worth reading, what I am interested in are the effects on our social networks. Continue reading

Thoughts on Digital Identity.

The possibilities of digital identity management have become more and more sophisticated over the years. 20 years ago there was little more space for defining identity than a username and a biography (at least to the mainstream user), social media services nowadays offer functions to communicate that we like/read/listen/watch a great variety of digital content. Profiles have become ever more sophisticated allowing us to create a limitless multimedia timeline of our own lives.

But what really identifies us is the relationship to our connections? In social network services it is possible to encounter twelve Continue reading