Exploring Users’ Information Behavior in Social Networks: A Contribution to the Understanding of the Use of Social Networks

My first scientific book was just released. Exploring… is a revised and expanded version of my master thesis, it starts from the reflection that social networks are commonly seen as a technology used only for entertainment. However, they can also be used for serious purposes in business and education environments, as they are powerful tools that can accomplish various roles and purposes. This book presents research done from an information science perspective; where the researcher took as a starting point and expanded on the issues presented in Bawden & Robinson’s The Dark Side of Information (2009). Presented with this book are extensive transcripts of the interviewed students and academic staff of a master course, who were asked about the issues of Web 2.0 and social networks identified in the literature, along with the typical features or characteristics of social networks. With the analysis and discussion of the interviews, this book provides insights regarding trends and tendencies of users’ information behavior in social networks, with the aim of contributing to a better understanding of users and the design of such systems. Exploring Users’ Information Behavior in Social Networks was awarded 2nd place in the category of Social Sciences Master Theses at the Students’ Scientific Research Contest of Tallinn University.

In the back of the book, as required by the publisher, there is an extremely short info about me: Juan Daniel Machin Mastromatteo, Bachelor in Librarianship (Universidad Central de Venezuela), Int. Master in DILL (Oslo University College, Tallinn University, Parma University), PhD student (Tallinn University). Has a vast experience in academic libraries in Venezuela, where he led information literacy projects and developed multimedia tutorials and library promotion materials.

You can always go to the Curriculum Vitae page to expand on it 🙂

You can find the book available in Amazon (US / UK  / DE) and MoreBooks

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Random Rant

At the time of writing this, I am in Athens, on the occasion of an international conference. After our respective presentations, which were very well received (I believe), we took the occasion to relax a bit and have a couple of beers and a good conversation.

Between jokes and serious talk (both these tones use to get confused in a dialog among friends), we were talking about some of our favorite topics as we do whenever we have the chance to meet. With this friend we talk about our experiences studying our PhDs abroad, the copyright industry’s battle against piracy, open access, alternative business models, the good “old” Wikipedia, the Internet, and digital culture in general. Today’s conversation was about how, in a way, we see ourselves almost as outsiders when in conservative academic circles. This isn’t the case of this conference, I must point out, as we were not criticized and I believe both our researches were well received by the academics present.

For example, on one side, my friend is using a grounded theory method on his research about metadata, he is interviewing mostly young researchers and academics from the LIS field. He told me he has been highly criticized because of the method he is using and even some have told him: “why metadata?” (WHAT!!) More than as a friend, I think even as a colleague, I believe in his research. I told him: what is the problem? Aren’t there already enough research done in a more traditional top down way with tried and good approaches or theories?

This is also applicable to my own PhD research, where I take an action research perspective to study the use of social networking tools in higher education. Possible critics may very well point out the highly subjective charge of my research, by making direct interventions on the activities I give to the participants. But then, isn’t learning one of the most subjective processes? We are not machines.

We argued that we get very weary and a bit tired at times of the old debate of positivism vs. constructivism, or objectivism vs. subjectivism. I believe there is not a single phenomenon in social sciences or humanities for which someone has found an absolute, universal, measurable and replicable truth.

I don’t remember where I saw it, perhaps you can identify where I got this piece of quote without author: “The outcome or goal does not matter, the most important thing is the journey.” All the insights you could get around a problem or a phenomenon subject to study; or all the discussion that leads you to your findings. Isn’t that good enough on the social sciences and the humanities?