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Web 2.0: Article

The Phenomenon Called Facebook

Facebook is, as this study states, a new area of research in online communities and what the ramifications are

Are you old enough to remember the 1982-1993 TV show Cheers and its theme song lyrics by Gary Portnoy and Judy Hart Angelo?

“Sometimes you want to go
where everybody knows your name,
and they're always glad you came;

you want to be where you can see,
our troubles are all the same;
you want to be where everybody knows your name.”

Now imagine the creation of that same kind of community feel, but instead of inside a common location of physicality put the community within the confines of an electronic screen and you have the popular phenomenon of Facebook. “We believe that Facebook represents an understudied offline to online trend in that it originally primarily served a geographically-bound community (the campus).

When data were collected for this study, membership was restricted to people with a specific host institution email address, further tying offline networks to online membership. In this sense, the original incarnation of Facebook was similar to the wired Toronto neighborhood studied by Hampton and Wellman (e.g., Hampton, 2002; Hampton & Wellman, 2003), who suggest that information technology may enhance place-based community and facilitate the generation of social capital.1 Previous research suggests that Facebook users engage in "searching" for people with whom they have an offline connection more than they "browse" for complete strangers to meet (Lampe, Ellison, & Steinfield, 2006).”

Facebook is, as this study states, a new area of research in online communities and what the ramifications are