Dalhousie University's Social Media Lab is hosting me on April 5th from 11 am-noon to discuss the current status of academic research on government social media use. The abstract for the talk is below. If you're interested in coming along, you can register (for free) here.
I'm really looking forward to getting feedback on my current research and to learning more about the Social Media Lab during my visit. As a bit of background on their work, they bring together researchers with the technical skills required to collect and analyze social media data with other researchers interested in exploring social media as it relates to their research interests, but that don't necessarily have the skills required to do so. This is a really innovative, and quite frankly, absolutely necessary model that other universities need to adopt if they want to produce cutting edge research into web-based phenomenon. I'm looking forward to seeing how it all works in practice.Lecture abstract
Methodological and Theoretical Gaps in the Study of Public Sector Social Media Use
In response to widespread use of social media, governments are recognizing the need to integrate Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and blogging into their communications, policymaking and service delivery “toolkits”. Academics have begun to study government’s use of social media, but significant methodological and theoretical gaps remain. Authors from Public Administration link public sector social media use to broader theories of government-citizen relations and state management, but typically rely on “analogue” methods that cannot efficiently or effectively capture the nuances of this digital phenomenon. As a foil, researchers from Computer Science and Information Studies typically draw on more rigorous digital methodological approaches to the study of public sector social media use, but rarely meaningfully tie this data into the broader Public Administration theories to which they speak. In this talk, Amanda Clarke will illustrate how the methodological and theoretical limitations of different disciplines have thus far left much to be desired in the study of public sector social media use. In doing so, Ms. Clarke will make the case for collaborative, inter-disciplinary approaches to this topic—and to other facets of digital government—in order to fill the gaps that single disciplinary approaches have left untouched thus far. The talk will conclude with a discussion of the practical barriers that will complicate such collaboration as the study of digital government moves ahead.