START Conference Manager    

ASIST 2012 Annual Meeting 
Baltimore, MD, October 26-30, 2012

Understanding Information and Knowledge Sharing in Online Communities: Emerging Research Approaches
Hsin-liang Chen, Anatoliy Gruzd, Xiaozhong Liu and Eric Meyers

Tuesday, 8:30am


Social media have become an important component of contemporary information ecosystems. People use social media systems, such as Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Tumblr to communicate ideas and information needs, seek advice and solve problems, show appreciation and disagreement with a person or issue. These tools facilitate the emergence of communities, often resembling the communities of practice that arise in workplaces and educational institutions, where a common interest, identity and set of norms and structures for communicating develop through interaction. But while it seems easy to “suck in” data streams from social media to understand online communities, making sense of the vast data sets has been challenging. The issues include not just the tools and methods for extracting and synthesizing large data sets like the Twitter Firehose, they also extend to the ethical and responsible use and reporting of this data for academic and commercial purposes. This panel will focus on methodological approaches and research strategies for the study of social media communities, in particular web 2.0 tools that play an important role in the North American cultural landscape. In exploring the challenges of working with social media data and online communities, this panel will pose and address a number of questions, including: • What philosophical approaches do we take to understanding online communities?