New SNS Resources and Research: JCMC, OCLC, ENIAS, and Facebook Pages

Several new resources and articles focusing on social network services (SNSs) (Facebook, MySpace, Bebo, etc.) have been recently published or released:

  • A special issue of the Journal for Computer-Mediated Communication (JCMC) focused on SNS edited by danah boyd and Nicole Ellison has finally been published. All of the articles are available online for free. Of particular interest to me are “Social Network Sites: Definition, History, and Scholarship” by danah boyd and Nicole Ellison and “Whose Space? Differences Among Users and Non-Users of Social Network Sites” by Eszter Hargittai. Hats off to danah and Nicole for pulling this together and seeing the project through to completion!
  • The Online Computer Library Center, better known as OCLC, released the 280-page document “Sharing, Privacy, and Trust in Our Networked World.” Although the report focuses in part on libraries and library directors, it also includes significant sections on (a) User practices and preferences on their favorite social spaces, (b) User attitudes about sharing and receiving information on social spaces, commercial sites, and library sites, and (c) Information privacy: what matters and what doesn’t. The research appears to be largely based on surveys of several thousand individuals from Canada, France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom and the United States.
  • The European Network and Information Security Agency (ENISA) released the 36-page document “Security Issues and Recommendations for Online Social Networks” (1.8 MB pdf). Contributors to this document include many familiar names for those who have browsed my bibliography: Alessandro Acquisti, Fred Stutzman, Nicole Ellison, and Ralph Gross, among others. While the focus of this document (threats and recommendations) may be slightly different than that of interest to many of you, the perspective is very valuable and many of the issues identified will be familiar. Among the issues addressed are: difficulty of complete account deletion, SNS spam, profile-squatting and reputation slander through ID theft, stalking, and bullying.
  • Karine Joly discusses a new Facebook feature, Facebook Pages, in the context of institutions of higher education seeking to market their institutions and connect with their constituents. Although intended primarily for commercial marketing purposes, Joly sees utility in this tool for higher education. Personally, I am becoming wary and weary of marketing efforts, particularly as they continue to infiltrate our personal lives and spaces. I recognize that much of that infiltration is occurring simply due to the blurring of boundaries between our personal and private lives but that does not make my any more comfortable with some of these developments.  Nor am I comfortable with the commercialization of higher education despite my understanding of the economic and social forces driving it.