The Facebook Project - Jeff's Case Study


The purpose of this study is to adequately assess the meaning and purpose of to student participants, on an everyday sort of basis.  We’d like to know what their preferences are, and why they have them.  Further we seek to determine the value(s) of the technology to students. This high level inquiry yields the following specific questions:

  1. How do participants employ the service as a supplementary (add-on) or primary informing agent? That is, does Facebook simply extend the ways they learn what they know, or is it one of the main ways they learn what they know?  What parts of the ecology (the complex system) do they explicitly or implicitly use to become informed, and in what ways? For instance, would they prefer to Google some things and Facebook others? Could Facebook factor into how they get impressions about others, or how they give impressions of themselves?
  2. We’d also like to know how important Facebook is as a communication medium. Do students choose it over AIM, email or texting? Where does Facebook fall - in terms of priority, context, and versatility compared to other information communication technologies?
  3. What are some of the ways users employ the system to bolster network social capital? Network capital refers to relationships with friends, family, neighbors, and coworkers who provide significant companionship, emotional aid, services, information and a sense of belonging.  Efforts related to political/organizational social capital (mobilization/organization) are obvious, but personal tie enhancing behavior is less apparent. Does Facebook better enhance strong or weak ties?

In all of this we’d like to consider the ways the online is invading the offline. How has Facebook actively started to change interactions in the face-to-face world?  How does it enter into the landscape of thinking during everyday affairs and exchanges?  Previous survey studies have been reliable and easily able to discern how much and how often students are using Facebook but very few have really accurately measured just what they use it for and why it matters to them. Thus this project was born.