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International ethnographic observation of social networking sites

by Christopher N. Chapman, Michal Lahav
Proceeding of the twenty-sixth annual CHI conference extended abstracts on Human factors in computing systems - CHI '08 ()

Abstract

Current research on social networking largely covers US providers. To investigate broader trends, we examine cross-cultural differences in the usage patterns of social networking services with observation and ethnographic interviews in multiple cultures. This appears to be the first systematic investigation of social networking behavior across multiple cultures. We report here on the first four locations with observation and interviews of 36 respondents, 8-10 in each of the US, France, China, and South Korea. The results show three dimensions of cultural difference for typical social networking behaviors: the users’ goals, typical pattern of self expression, and common interaction behaviors. These differences exemplify a developmental path of interest in social networking and the gradual integration of social networking behavior into more general communications behaviors. Future work in other cultures and with additional methods will evaluate the hypotheses presented here.

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