[Air-L] Research on "passive" social media use?

jeansamuel.beuscart at orange-ftgroup.com jeansamuel.beuscart at orange-ftgroup.com
Thu Nov 5 01:29:17 PST 2009

Hi Lisbeth,

In a research about Flickr (on a database of 5M accounts), presented as a poster at ICWSM08, we found that only 16% of the users were combining at least 2 functions of the site (for example, uploading photos and making comments) ; and less than 10% were combining three or more. You can find the article here : http://arxiv.org/abs/0802.2317.


Jean-Samuel Beuscart
Orange Labs, SENSE
"Sociology and Economics of Networks and Services"

-----Message d'origine-----
De : air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org [mailto:air-l-bounces at listserv.aoir.org] De la part de Dominic Yeo
Envoyé : mercredi 4 novembre 2009 18:57
À : air-l at listserv.aoir.org
Objet : [Air-L] Research on "passive" social media use?

Hi Lisbeth,

You might want to look up the literature on power law of participation:

Adamic, L. A., & Huberman, B. A. (2002). Zipf's law and the Internet.
Glottometrics, 3(1), 143-50.

Adar, E., & Huberman, B. A. (2000, October 2). Free riding on Gnutella. Retrieved October 30, 2008, from http://www.firstmonday.org/issues/issue5_10/adar/

Benkler, Y. (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom. Yale University Press.

Mayfield, R. (2006, April 27). Power Law of Participation. Ross Mayfield's Weblog. Retrieved October 29, 2008, from http://ross.typepad.com/blog/2006/04/power_law_of_pa.html

Joyce, E., & Kraut, R. E. (2006). Predicting Continued Participation in Newsgroups. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 11(3), 723-747.

Lakhani, K. R., & von Hippel, E. (2003). How open source software
works: "free" user-to-user assistance. Research Policy, 32(6), 923-943.


Message: 13
Date: Wed, 4 Nov 2009 15:44:21 +0100
From: "Lisbeth Klastrup" <klastrup at itu.dk>
To: <air-l at listserv.aoir.org>
Cc: klastrup at itu.dk
Subject: [Air-L] Research on "passive" social media use?
Message-ID: <004001ca5d5d$4d2543f0$e76fcbd0$@dk>
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Hi all,
A question related to what we do NOT do while spending our time on social network sites:

I?m currently trying to dig up academic literature documenting in some form the numbers of active versus passive users of social media, with special focus on the passive users.? ?Active? here for the sake of argument meant in a broad sense:? uploading content, commenting, rating; and ?passive? as just watching or reading, but not interacting with content in any way.? Im basically interested in all forms of recent academic research on this, which actually provide some numbers, not just mentionings of ?rule of thumbs? or second-hand information.
Particularly, I?d love to know if anyone has researched how many people?
?just? read status updates and do NOT comment, retweet, ?Like? them etc on sites like Facebook or Twitter. (I know it?s a tricky question and perhaps not very useful to make the distinction, since most are likely to have commented or ?liked? at some point, but then again I surmise some people are more likely to do it on a more regularly basis than others, and some are very rarely active??)

What I have found so far:
A 2008 OfCom report in their UK survey results reports that ?40% looks at other people?s sites (eg. SNS profiles) without leaving messages?, but does not deal with ?passivity? otherwise. A Sysomos survey of Twitter users claims to have found that 21% of people with Twitter-accounts have never tweeted (so they must be ?passive? readers of other people?s tweets?).

I know of? Jenny Preece?s early work on lurkers, and Jose Van Dijck in her
2009 paper ?Users like you? Theorizing agency in user-generated content?
mentions a Forrester report from 2007 ?Mapping Participation in Activities?
(which you have to pay for), talking of 33% of users being passive spectators (of videos, blogs etc) and 52% ?inactives?. An OECD 2007 report ?Participative Web: User-Generated content? (according to Dijck) says more than 80% are passive recipients of content. All in all not much knowledge to go by, and mostly just numbers. And then there?s the 1/10/89 % meme, but how substantial is it:

I've perused Danah Boyd?s extensive list on social network research, but at least judging from the titles of articles listed there & still unknown to me, ?passive? SNS use hasn?t really been the topic of any papers so far?

Do any of you know of any (other) work in this area? ? I?ll be happy to do a summary here or in the social media sphere..

Lisbeth Klastrup,
IT University of Copenhagen
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