Phoenix, AoIRizona

Desert botanical gardens

The picture above was taken by yours truly at the Desert Botanical Gardens, right outside of Phoenix, Arizona (or perhaps AoIRizona), site for the 2016 Association of Internet Researchers conference. This time around, I played a part in co-organizing two events together with Axel Bruns from Queensland University of Technology. First, I chaired and presented in a panel entitled Adoption and Adaptation: Diachronic Perspectives on the Growing Sophistication of Social Media Uses in Elections Campaigns. Besides Axel and myself, the other presenters were Tim Highfield, Jennifer Stromer-Galley and Luca Rossi. As the title (hopefully) implies, we provided longitidunal and/or diachronic insights regarding uses of social media during elections in our respective case countries. My presentation can be accessed here.

Moreover, I took part in a roundtable discussion featuring Axel Bruns as well as Katrin Weller from the GESIS Leibniz Institute for the Social Sciences in Cologne. Specifically, our session was entitled ‘Black Box’ Data and ‘Flying Furball’ Networks: Challenges and Opportunities in Doing and Communicating Social Media Analytics. This was a stimulating opportunity to engage in discussion with not only my fellow panelists, but also the audience, regarding a series of issues regarding research on social media. For my own part, I focused my opening statement on three main issues. First, I took the opportunity to share some of my experiences of free vs. paid alternatives for Twitter data gathering. This knowledge is important to share, I would argue, since the business interests of Twitter data providers do not always align with the interests of researchers. Second, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of difficulties in communicating with ethical review boards across countries. Based on work undertaken by myself and in collaboration with Hallvard Moe (pdf), the differences between Sweden and Norway in this regard are rather substantial. Finally, I took the opportunity to provide some examples of different approaches to data gathering from Facebook – and what can go wrong when approaching Facebook for research purposes.

AoIR (get it? AoIRizona?) is one of my favorite conferences to attend, and next year doing so will be even more enjoyable since it is hosted in Berlin – a rather short flight compared to the time it took to travel from Oslo to Phoenix…

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