Friday, 6 February 2009

how to find statistics on social media

How to find statistics on social media is a question I often need the answer to. Browsing Mashable this morning I chanced across and interesting blog with just that title "How to find statistics on social media".

I was however also partly prompted to raise this because of a tweet by Jim Hendler "Internetworldstats says 1.4 billion people use the Web. CIA factbook says 800M people are literate. My head explodes."

With social media grabbing the headlines, and falling into the hands of publicists - described by one pundit as being lower in the pecking order than snake oil sellers ( and therefore presumably also estate agents) we are reminded that we need all our critical faculties when looking at statistics - whether they are about social media or any other topic.

So Bobby Johnston has declared in his Guardian blog "Why I am finished with social media" getting a good slew of comments, and pointing to some of the reasons why we need a pinch of salt when we use and muse on what we understand as being the phenomena of social media and web 2.0.

All of which is a challenge to us in universities who are researching new technology applications and trying to educate tomorrows technological trailblazers about the ways of the world.

this is a topic which could benefit from a lot more exploration. My interim conclusion - well there is an echo of Gladwell - 10,000 hours to mastery? Maybe we had better find some time to think about things. You can't reach conclusions without doing the thinking, you can't use statistics unless you think about them before you try to explain them. and by the way, you will need to think about the context of the phenomena you are analysing (but then I would say that because I am a social constructivist). Ah, then maybe you need to find out a bit more about the 'perspective' of the source of your statistics, and see how you can make them 'objective'.

This is a big message which we need to communicate to research students, and which we need to remind ourselves of on a daily basis.

hmmm.... time to think

1 comment:

Tessa said...

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Ruth

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