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  • 00:09

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE: I'm Anabel Quan-Haase.I'm a Professor of Sociology and Informationand Media at Western University in Canada.And my work primarily focuses on social media, the usesand social consequences.I think I got primarily interestedthrough my own engagement.I mean, as most of us, I spend a lot of time on the internet.

  • 00:32

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So as I started joining more social media sites,I kind of realized the numerous benefits drawn from beingon the sites-- experiences--but also the amount of time you justspend on them, also the privacy consequences.I mean often-- decisions around well, what data do you share?What data don't you share?

  • 00:53

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: Where does the data go?Who's going to use the data?So I think that as I navigated and spentmore time with the sites, I startedto come up with a lot of questionsaround the social consequences, and whatit meant in my own life and for the peoplethat I connect with through the sites.Twitter was really relevant to me,

  • 01:13

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: because I was really keenly aware that the new fieldof digital humanities--which is an area where the humanities adoptshigh computing to study questions of the humanities--was very active on Twitter.And one of my research projects specificallylooked at how tools mediate knowledge creation

  • 01:35

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: in digital humanities projects.So I realized that a lot of digital humanities scholarswere creating accounts on Twitter,and that Twitter was a really important tool for themto not only gain information--that's certainly one really important aspect

  • 01:55

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: of being on Twitter--but that also there was a sense of communityamongst the academics that had joined Twitter, and that oftenpeople would even meet first on Twitterand then meet in person.So it was this incredible overlapbetween the digital networks and the offline networks,

  • 02:16

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: and often in unpredictable ways.Like sometimes, it was really that you meet somebody onlineand then you meet them off online.But there were times where somebody would justbe a friend or a colleague on Twitter.And you would actually not meet them in person.I think that today, often when we work in our institutions,we may be in our own kind of bubbles.

  • 02:36

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: And I think what Twitter did in this case wasovercome barriers of distance.So we may have a colleague or a person who'sdoing similar work to us, who is working on a similar problem.But they may be in a different institution,in a different country.So being able to connect to those peopleand problem-solve just different aspects of the academic process

  • 02:58

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: is really critical.So one of the things that we found when looking at Twitteris that people would go on Twitter to first,get a sense of who else is there,connect with other people with similar interests,but then also ask direct questions,or even find information about new projects or join activism,

  • 03:18

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: so things that are important to us,whether it be academic integrity or even simple thingslike marking.You can find so much information on your own topic,but also general questions around academia,that that became an important part of the community-building.So one of the things that we found in our research--and it was primarily based on interviews and observations

  • 03:40

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: of Twitter--was that often for academics, serendipitywas an important component.And what I mean by that is that when they were on Twitter,they would be looking for certain kinds of information.But often, they would also stumble upon thingsthat were unexpected or that were relevantbut they didn't foresee.

  • 04:00

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So one of the things that we noticedis that, for instance, features like retweetingor sometimes messages that were sent out by a certain groupthat you follow were really important in termsof facilitating that encounteringof unexpected information.And people in our study reported that that helped open up,

  • 04:23

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: a little bit, these information bubbles,because they were able to find information that they may nothave known was available.So they couldn't have gone and searched for it.But that information just--through the Twitter feed-- came to them.What's also important to realize is that not only does ithave benefits, there are also some drawbacks.So people would often talk about noise, time spent on Twitter.

  • 04:44

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So it's important to realize that while there are benefitsin terms of the serendipity-- that finding information youdidn't expect--also, the feature of just the scale and the amountof information also creates problemsin terms of discerning, well, what is relevant?How much of it is noise?How much time are you spending productively on the sites?

  • 05:05

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So I think for a lot of scholars,it's a cost-benefit analysis.For us, it was really important to not rely onlyon the digital traces.I think that often digital tracescan be an important means to entering into a topic.But through the interviews, we gained a better senseof what it meant in their academic work, the relevance

  • 05:29

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: that some information has.And sometimes I find that through lookingat likes or retweets, you can't get the full experiencethat these environments create.And in particular, when you're lookingat both the social and the informational components,you may miss a lot of the informationif you don't talk to people directly,

  • 05:51

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: because their experiences and the meaning that informationor the encounters may have may get missed.I think what's really important isto realize that often, people are a part of largercommunities, and that the networks that they form--the connections-- are really important in termsof driving them going to those communities.

  • 06:11

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So through qualitative work, I thinkwe can get a much better sense of the context.And I think that often understanding that context--and by context, depending on what group you're studying,that context may be very different.But context can be things like, where are youin your life stage?Where are you in your career stage?

  • 06:33

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: So understanding what that social context is oftenhappens through the in-depth interviews.So the interviews can give you a better sense of,what does a digital trace actuallymean to the person in terms of the reasons and motivations

  • 06:53

    ANABEL QUAN-HAASE [continued]: why they're on those sites?

Video Info

Publisher: SAGE Publications Ltd

Publication Year: 2019

Video Type:Interview

Methods: Social media research, Data ethics

Keywords: community building; digital communication; interviews; networking; Social media; Social network analysis; Twitter ... Show More

Segment Info

Segment Num.: 1

Persons Discussed:

Events Discussed:



Anabel Quan-Haase, PhD, Professor of Sociology and of Information and Media at Western University in Canada, discusses the influence of Twitter in the development of social networks and community building in academic circles.

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Anabel Quan-Haase Discusses Uses and Social Consequences of Social Media

Anabel Quan-Haase, PhD, Professor of Sociology and of Information and Media at Western University in Canada, discusses the influence of Twitter in the development of social networks and community building in academic circles.

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