Sunday, June 20, 2010

#CritLit2010 Twitter vs. Facebook Discourse

“When I reflected on Foucault’s definition of discourse, I realize that power relations would have a significant impact on the conversations held between networkers”

According to Barabási (2003), the Internet is a scale-free network (i.e., containing hubs and connections) that follows a power law distribution (for good or bad). In order to recognize the impact power has on any particular type of discourse requires that each actor 1) recognize the type of tie that exists between the actor and other nodes within the network and 2) recognize the attributes of each node. This level of criticality will help determine the impact nodes (including the actor herself) have on the network with regard to centrality and prestige.

“Take Twitter as an example, would the followers and the following assume a power relation?”

This would depend on how much the actor depended on Twitter as part of a personal learning network and whether the actor perceived the tie with the individual or node as valuable. I would dare say that most people use Twitter in conjunction with a wide variety of additional tools that ultimately would limit the impact power might have on this type of discourse. That is, even those along the long tail have the opportunity to gain some level of power if they are able to critically assess ties and node attributes.

I view Twitter discourse (TD) differently than Facebook discourse (FBD). Typically, TD is limited to the individuals participating in that discourse and tends to be a bit more fragmented and difficult to follow for “outsiders”. It’s been my experience that FBD is easier for others to view discourse and the discourse itself tends to include more turn-taking. In general, TD is more spontaneous and I would say contains more utterances (non-discursive) while FBD is more thought out and contains more conversations (discursive) - although I don’t have the data to back this up. Finally, I see TD as more of a network, FBD as more of a group, at least in terms of degree of openness, agency, types of interaction.