Digital and Social Media

Digital and social media have established their importance to society, being now an important venue for work, education, politics, news, entertainment and socialization. Streamed music and video have replaced physical media such as CDs or DVDs. Online information sources compete with and threaten traditional news media, with profound societal impact. Email, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and Instagram are preferred modes of contact and have even emerged as venues for announcing policy. The on-going COVID–19 crisis has only accelerated these on-going trends. Understanding these developments and their implications is thus a critical challenge for researchers and the public.

To address this challenge, the Digital and Social Media (DSM) track covers a broad range of topics, disciplines and approaches, bringing together researchers to share and discuss cutting-edge research. This year, the track includes 61 papers organized into 12 minitracks.

Five minitracks gather research on different types of digital or social media.

Mediated Conversation: studies of digitally-persistent conversation and its implications for diverse forms of human interaction; that raises new socio-technical, ethical, pedagogical, linguistic and social questions; and that suggests new methods, perspectives, and design approaches for these systems. The seven papers in this minitrack cover topics ranging from spirituality chatbots to social media audience engagement and political commenting during the US 2020 election.

Games and Gaming: digital games and sociality, e.g., papers investigating sociability, social practices, communities, use of social affordances or other related social dimensions. The eight papers in this minitrack explore a range of topics, such as the impact of COVID–19 on Twitch live streamers, Twitch chat as a political space and ethnographic studies of innovation in online communities.

Social Information Systems: explores the design, implementation, operation and integration of social information systems, those characterized by weak ties, social production, egalitarianism and mutual service provisioning. The two papers in this minitrack examine self-determination and value creation on platforms.

Streaming Media in Entertainment: fosters understanding of the production and usage of, and user participation in social live streaming services. The five papers in this minitrack cover topics such as cyber-social relations, recommendations in video-on-demand services and data-driven identification of music genres.

Digital and Social Media in Enterprise: studies of the use of social media in organizations, along with the opportunities and challenges addressing issues related to the role of enterprise social media in work. The three papers in this minitrack address questions such as identifying value-adding users or employee social media deviance.

Three minitracks advance methodology for research on DSM.

Data Analytics, Data Mining and Machine Learning for Social Media: research that brings together DSM and data analytics, data mining and machine learning, including quantitative, theoretical and applied approaches. The nine papers in this minitrack explore topics such as the spread of false and true news during a social crisis, German Twitter influencers and topic maps of parliamentary debates.

Digital Methods: methodological issues and approaches to conducting research with digital and social media data, e.g., new methods for data collection and analysis, dealing with the distinctive features of these data, approaches to data management. The three papers in this minitrack address questions such as online focus groups, analysis of emotional reactions or approaches to studying TikTok.

Network Analysis of Digital and Social Media: research that uses network analysis to better understand DSM use, revealing the underlying structures and dynamic interactions among network components. The four papers in this minitrack examine topics such as virality of drugs and cures in India or propagation of COVID–19 toxicity in Twitter.

Finally, the papers in four minitracks examine a particular phenomenon or related phenomena as it or they unfold in the setting of DSM.

Decision Making in Online Social Networks: explores, extends and challenges existing knowledge of decision making in online social communities and networks. The four papers in this minitrack address topics such as the impact of interacting with bots on Twitter or the relation between morality and opinion expression in social media.

Big Data-driven Social Media Management: insights into current and future social media management: how to evaluate the impact of social media and how to manage them effectively from the management and economic perspective. The three papers in this minitrack cover topics including remote work during the pandemic or predicting film ratings.

Culture, Identity and Inclusion: interrogates how social media are being adopted in diverse communities and the new norms and practices that emerge from this use, with a focus on culture and identity. The six papers in this minitrack address topics including language biases in Twitter, trolling in India and USA and cultural affordances on WeChat.

Critical and Ethical Studies of Digital and Social Media addresses two themes: 1) critical interrogations of the role of DSM in supporting existing power structures or realigning power for underrepresented or social marginalized groups, and 2) ethical issues associated with doing research on DSM. The seven papers in this minitrack address diverse topics such as deceptive crowdwork, perceptions of Tinder and racism in targeting advertisements.

Looking across the minitrack, a few themes stand out. Not surprisingly, nearly every minitrack has papers examining the impact of or response to COVID–19 in their particular area. Misinformation or approach to managing it is another common theme. A final observation is the increasing diversity of social media platforms and real-world settings being studied.

In sum, the track offers a home for research on diverse types of DSM, in diverse settings, with diverse methods and examining diverse phenomena, but joined by an interest in these novel media.

Kevin Crowston
School of Information Studies
Syracuse University
crowston@syr.edu

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