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Social Media Discourse and Culture: A Proposal for Comparative Informatics Research

Publication Type:

Conference Proceedings


Second Annual Workshop on Comparative Informatics, Copenhagen, Denmark (2011)


Public discourse is rapidly evolving through the use of social media platforms including
Facebook, Twitter and others. Though often discussed in terms like “social media”, or even
more general terms like “web 2.0”, social media platforms are not homogeneous. The reflexive
relationship between social media and culture will be different for each combination of culture
and social media platform. The Comparative Informatics community focuses attention on the
role of culture in ICT uptake and use. Comparative Informatics examines the need for
governments to consider the diverse cultures they serve when developing ICTs for eGovernment
(Robertson, 2010), reflects on the cultural biases embedded in current technology, including the
keyboard (Nardi, Vatrapu, & Clemmensen, 2011) and questions web 2.0 visions of global
collaboration and remixing (Hughes & Lang, 2006) unencumbered by cultural differences
(Cervantes, Nardi, & Kow, 2010). Social media is one component of web 2.0 that affords many
opportunities for Comparative Informatics research. One important contribution of Comparative
Informatics research in the area of social media will be the development of a more thorough
understanding of the relationship between culture and social media uptake and use. This
proposal focuses on the reflexive construction of culture through discourse using social media.