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Saturday, September 14 • 4:46pm - 6:30pm
“Memories in Action: Social Network Sites as Emergent Biographical Archives””

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With over 1 billion of worldwide users, Facebook stands as a pervasive and cross-cutting social environment, the place in which we build and store part of our culture, biography and social relations, and also the mean by which we obtain information, communicate and get in touch with the institutions. Moreover, while SNS enable individuals to communicate and socialize the present, at the same time they allow for its online storage,  providing it permanently available online. 

Nowadays, a great attention in terms of research has been payed to the use of these environments in the present: many studies have been undertaken to investigate how practices of on line sharing are reconfiguring models of identity and representation (Papacharissi 2011),  media consumption practices (Jenkins 2006), relationships between on line communities and territory (Hampton & Wellman 2003; Parks 2009), political engagement repertoires (Postelnicu & Cozma 2008), emergent business and work models (Tapscott and Williams, 2006; Bruns 2008). 
Furthermore, web 2.0 has started to be studied also according to a critical approach: focusing on new forms of cyber-surveillance (Fuchs, 2011), copyright and privacy issues (Livingstone 2008), the often wild process of cultural disintermediation (Van Dijk & Nieborg, 2009) and, finally, focusing on the economic exploitation of a new "digital proletariat" (Terranova 2004).
However, their role as repositories of an individual and collective history and as tools for a new, mediated, evanescent and negotiable memory is yet largely unexplored.

The paper deals with the SNS as emergent biographical archives, making individuals build and continuously revise in a meta-reflective way not only their present but also their past. 
Four different social network interfaces will be analysed and compared: Facebook, Linkedin, Path and Nextdoor. These SNS will be explored according to a desk analysis aimed to highlight the socio-technical affordances (Resnick 2001) related to the biographical memory.

In particular, the online social media memories will be explored along several dimensions:
-the ephemeral and volatile nature of digital contents (Ferraris 2012) and, at the same time, their replicable, permanent, and spreadable shape (boyd & Ellison 2007);
-the relationship between public and private dimensions of these archives and their long term implications for privacy, storage, accessibility and reuse;
-the socio-technical affordances and constraints of such digital environments in relation to biographical memory;
-the meta-reflective and discursive practices on the past that actually the above mentioned interfaces enable;
Finally, aim of the paper is to discuss different epistemological ideas of memory that emerges from such interfaces: depending on the type of SNS environment and on the ties (Wellman at al. 2001) enabled and stimulated by each digital environment, also the socio-technical image of the past is different, opening to different cultural roles and interpretations of memory. 


boyd D. M., & Ellison N. B. (2007). Social network sites: Definition, history, and scholarship. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication, 13, article 11. http://jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issue1/boyd.ellison.
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Hampton K., & Wellman, B. (2003), Neighboring in Netville: how the internet supports community and social capital in a wired suburb. City & Community, 2 (4), 277-311.
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Tapscott D. & Williams A.D. (2006), Wikinomics. How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything, Penguin, New York.
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Wellman, B., Haase, A. Q., Witte, J., & Hampton, K. (2001). Does the Internet increase, decrease, or supplement social capital? Social networks, participation, and community commitment. American Behavioral Scientist, 45, 436-456.


Gabriella Taddeo

Politecnicoo di Torino, Italy

Saturday September 14, 2013 4:46pm - 6:30pm
Rowe Atrium

Attendees (5)