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

MARIA AMPARO LASEN DIAZ alasen at cps.ucm.es
Wed Nov 4 09:24:10 PST 2009

Hi Lisbeth,

I wonder whether we shoud keep using this term "passive" to describe users who do not post comments or upload content, as listening, watching and reading are rich and meaningful ways of interacting with content (there is a vaste and not so new amount of scholar work on how the audiences in litterature and arts contribute to make what they listen, read and watch by these same activities of reading or lietening), regarding Internet Kate Crawford is working on this topic, you can found the paper she presented in the COST298 conference in Copenhagen this year in the online proceedings at




----- Mensaje original -----
De: Lisbeth Klastrup <klastrup at itu.dk>
Fecha: Miércoles, Noviembre 4, 2009 15:44
Asunto: [Air-L] Research on "passive" social media use?
A: air-l at listserv.aoir.org
CC: klastrup at itu.dk

> 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 
> specialfocus 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:
> www.guardian.co.uk/technology/2006/jul/20/guardianweeklytechnologysection2
> 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? 
> So:
> 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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Amparo Lasén Dpto Sociología I Facultad de Ciencias Políticas y Sociología UCM Campus de Somosaguas Pozuelo de Alarcón 28223 0034913942899 alasen at cps.ucm.es

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