Categories · DIGC · Digital Asia

Researching Social Media (it’s not a cop-out I swear)

In my individual research project I’d like to look into a few different angles of social media. I’m going to look at Chinese social media, in particular their equivalences to western social media platforms, and more broadly, how their social media space differs from the west’s. To do this I plan to do a few things to help myself understand the platforms, primarily this will be using an autoethnographic method in that I will personally attempt to sign up to all the leading social media platforms and document my experience, possibly even record myself at the same time.

Source: Weibo.com login page
Source: Weibo.com login page google translated into english

In Brad Crawford’s documentary “100 Yen: The Japanese Arcade Experience” he often makes the comparison between the ‘traditional’ arcade scene and the ‘up-and-coming console generation’. To compare my personal research project to this documentary, social media platforms in China, like Weibo, Renren and Tencent are primarily used by Chinese citizens, or at least Chinese speaking people, that is they survive, and were developed off the culture surrounding the platform. Similarly Japanese arcades were created in Japan, to entertain the Japanese people, the culture surrounding the platform has kept it active, and when the culture changes, so must the platform.

  • Some reasons for autoethnography in my project/signing up to the social media platforms – to better understand the differences in approaches, execution and culture of the platforms and thus be able to better compare it to western social media platforms

–  To create an informed first hand experience of the new (to me) platforms. Subsequently, I will do some data collection to help be able to compare statistical data between the different cultures.

– To look into how a culturally driven service i.e. they tailor the product to the users change between vastly different cultures, cross cultural difference in standards and emphasis on communication in the case of the social media platforms.

– Without actually using the platform, you can’t compare it to an adequate standard. Such a social, diverse and changing environment – would not benefit from a static research method – this point lends itself to the nature of technology and social media in general i.e. to keep up with peoples lives in ‘real time’.

– Generate a personal opinion from personal use.

To use a different approach to analyse the different media platforms would surely leave out important details and intricacies in how exactly the platforms are used, for what purpose they are used, and who exactly uses them. Observing such a social and culturally involved activity would not do the analysis justice when comparing it to western media which I have extensive experience in. Likewise to use purely statistical data analysis on the different social media platforms would leave out the important social differences and thus the analysis would lack a human aspect. This is why using an autoethnographic approach to the research benefits the analysis/comparison most, as it provides a means to comparing the two cultures, and opposing media platforms to a similar standard.

Just look at the Renren homepage, if I didn’t know any better I’d say it’s some kind of scam page out to steal my data.

Source: Renren homepage
Source: Renren homepage

References:

Crawford, B. (2016). 100 YEN: THE JAPANESE ARCADE EXPERIENCE [English subtitles]. [online] YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=saqXPY4K-t0 [Accessed 15 Sep. 2016].

Ellis, Carolyn; Adams, Tony E. & Bochner, Arthur P. (2010). Autoethnography: An Overview [40 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 10, http://nbn-resolving.de/urn:nbn:de:0114-fqs1101108.

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