Social Media Narrative of Facebook Timeline Predicted by Wake Forest University Professor

Released: 9/23/2011 12:30 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Wake Forest University
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Citations Global Media Journal

MEDIA CONTACT: Katie Neal, 336-758-6141, nealkc@wfu.edu
Data mining, community storylines next inevitable evolution

Newswise — (September 23, 2011 – Winston-Salem, N.C.) – Your Friday night status update from a local pub will have much greater significance with the unveiling of Facebook Timeline, says Dr. Ananda Mitra, social media expert and Chair of the Communication Department at Wake Forest University.

“Though Facebook this month and Facebook next month will have a dramatically different look and feel, the data doesn’t change. What’s new is the amount of data people are invited to, and will, provide,” says Mitra. “Mining of all this data is the next inevitable step, opening the door for more prevalent community-based stories and more targeted marketing opportunities.”

Mitra predicted the narrative evolution of social media in Global Media Journal more than a year and a half ago. He coined the term "narb" to describe narrative bits, the personal details such as age, sex, location and social preference people reveal using social media, which now are prominently featured in the rollout of Facebook Timeline.

In “Narbs as a Measure and Indicator of Identity Narratives,” a chapter in the upcoming book Investigating Cyber Law and Cyber Ethics: Issues, Impacts and Practices, Mitra offers a new look to narrative bits and how they may affect people’s personal – and very real – lives. In the book he explains mathematical model for mining and organizing the data shared through the mini-life stories.

What does this mean for 800 million Facebook users and the future of social media?

“Through narbs, Facebook Timeline makes your weekend check-in at the University’s football stadium with two of your friends more visible and data-rich than ever before. It says where you are, whose company you keep, that you like sports, that you possibly graduated from that school and suggests that you also might like to eat or drink certain things. It invites targeted advertising and information about consumption behavior directly to your tailgate,” he says.

However, it doesn't necessarily mean people shouldn't share, he says. When events happen that people experience simultaneously – such as an earthquake or political victory – people's feeds will explode with narratives told by the community, increasing social media’s role in news gathering and further minimizing the impact of mass media.

About Wake Forest University
Founded in 1834, Wake Forest University is a top-25 university located in Winston-Salem, NC. Wake Forest combines the best tradition of a small liberal arts college with the resources of a national research university. For more information, contact the Wake Forest Office of Communications and External Relations at 336-758-5237.


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