Thursday, 7 June 2012

The irony of serendipity: disruptions in social information behaviour

an article by Jörgen Skågeby, (Department of Journalism, Media and Communication, Stockholm University, Sweden) published in Library Hi Tech Volume 30 Issue 2 (2012)


This paper seeks to propose that the current social media surge gives rise to what can be called social information behaviour. Social information behaviour is characterised, at least partly, by a tension between serendipity and disruption. While serendipity is a promoted feature of social media and social information behaviour, social disruption can be seen as its ironic counterpart. This paper goes on to explore different kinds of social disruption that emerge with the use of social media services.
The paper uses a meta-ethnographical approach and draws on results from three online ethnographic studies. User activities are conceptualised as social information behaviour and focus is put on potential social disruption.
The paper discusses five prevalent tensions relating to social disruption: market logic and social logic; public and private; work and non-work; individual and collective; and IRL (In Real Life) or AFK (Away From Keyboard).
Research limitations/implications
The paper mainly focuses on the disruptive side of social information behaviour. Future work would include studies and comparisons of serendipitous effects.
Practical implications
The findings are relevant for library and information science academics, analysts and professionals interested in social information behaviour as it emerges over new social mediating technologies.
This paper proposes the notion of social information behaviour and provides a conceptual analytical pair in serendipity and social disruption. Theoretical discussion is conducted with reference to “ironic technics”. The paper compiles and highlights prevalent social disruptions from previous online ethnographical studies on social media usage.

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