When social media are your source

Paul Scifleet, Maureen Henninger, Kathryn Albright

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    Abstract

    Introduction. This study investigates the challenges that arise when social media are acquired as an information resource to be maintained, studied, re-purposed and re-used. The aim of the research is to understand how the information architecture of the messages contributes to social interactions; how the record of an event might be collected and understood; and how knowledge of architecture can contribute to other social studies. In doing so, the research contributes to an understanding of the custodianship of an increasingly important cultural document.Method. A qualitative media analysis was undertaken of real time social media feeds documenting a significant national event, the flooding of the Riverina in Australia during March 2012. By combining a qualitative content analysis of communications with analysis of their materiality and form, the investigation presents an integrated approach for understanding the social dimensions of information architecture.Analysis. During the flood, communications were sampled from Facebook, Google Plus and Twitter activity streams encapsulated in standardised metadata, allowing the same questions to be asked across each stream.Results. The architecture of messages, communicative intent of authors and topics of conversation are presented, reporting on the organisation of knowledge in social media and demonstrating how different social media document the same event differently.Conclusions. The research departs from the direction of other studies in social media and crises management, with their attention on improving communications, to investigate the social arc of communication between people, raising new and important directions for library and information science.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)1-14
    Number of pages14
    JournalInformation Research
    Volume18
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2013

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