Can we generalize from one social media platform to another?


One of the things my dissertation, Emotion in Social Media, highlights is the importance of the comparative perspective in social media research. I looked at three big questions in the field, proposing the same hypotheses for both Facebook and Twitter — but ended up drawing some conclusions that were pretty divergent and unique to each service.

My dissertation examines (1) the emotions we express in social media (i.e. the emotional profile of the status update), (2) what we can infer about someone’s emotional life in general based on what they say in their status updates (and possible limitations on those inferences), and (3) the emotional experience of browsing social media (Do we get riled up? Envy our friends’ lives?). I searched far and wide in my literature review — and took note of a handful of related studies that analyzed more than one social media service — but saw little to support the idea that Facebook and Twitter were fundamentally different in terms of emotional expression, emotional inference, or emotional experience. Indeed, many studies drew conclusions about ‘social media’ based on an analysis of just one service.

It’s true that if you read my dissertation, you might walk away with the impression that Facebook and Twitter share some important things in common. Status updates on both services are characterized by elevated arousal and higher levels of emotions like amusement, anger, surprise and awe that are more wound up. You’ll find that status updates on both services appear to provide something of a window into our emotional lives, though the association is not especially tight, is moderated by factors like how emotionally stable we are, and disappears entirely when the popular sentiment analysis program Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) is used to analyze the emotional contents of status updates. You’ll also find that the most robust effect of browsing both services appears to be that people tend to wind down (i.e. feel more relaxed, sleepy, bored, etc.), not wind up, as the stereotype goes.

That’s a lot in common. But in synthesizing the literature review for my dissertation, I noted a broad chain of reasoning that seemed to link the literature together, even if it was never fully articulated by any one researcher. This “overarching hypothesis” about emotion in social media goes something like this: Status updates are overly-positive, reflecting a concern for self-presentation, which in turn limits how valid status updates are for inferring our day-to-day emotional lives, and which ultimately causes us to feel envy while we browse social media.

In results, this entire chain of reasoning receives at least some support, but for Facebook only. Facebook posts are more positive than day-to-day emotional life, self-presentation concerns do seem to moderate the association between Facebook posts and emotional life, while browsing Facebook is characterized by some elevation in envy. There are limits to each link in the chain — self-presentation concerns do not eliminate the association between Facebook posts and emotional life, for example — but every link is nonetheless supported.

Interestingly, however, the overarching hypothesis receives little support for Twitter. Tweets are more negative than day-to-day emotional life, self-presentation concerns largely do not moderate the association between tweets and emotional experience, and envy might actually be alleviated while we browse Twitter. A lesson of this dissertation, therefore, may be about the importance of comparative perspectives in social media research. Key social psychological dynamics that characterize one service, like Facebook, may not generalize to another, like Twitter, even when they share the same core design, i.e. feeds of status updates.

Next time you hear someone talk about “social media” as though all services have uniform, monolithic implications for behavior, you might nudge them to consider that different services can create different, unique contexts — with potentially divergent implications for behavior.

Galen Panger received his Ph.D. from Berkeley in 2017, focusing on social media behavior, happiness and well-being, and behavioral economics. He is currently a user experience researcher at Google. Panger will be honored at iConference 2018 as the 2018 winner of the iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award.


iSchools Announce 2018 Doctoral Dissertation Award Results


The results are in, and the winner of the 2018 iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award is Dr. Galen Panger of the iSchool at the University of California, Berkeley (USA). The runner up is Dr. Paul H. Cleverley of the iSchool at Robert Gordon University (Scotland). The iSchools organization congratulates both honorees, and will present their awards during iConference 2018 in Sheffield, UK.

The iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes the best iSchool dissertations of the preceding year. Nominations are solicited from all members of the iSchools organization, now more than 80 institutions worldwide, and judged by an award committee drawn from leading international schools. This year’s committee was chaired by Dr. Joseph Tennis of the University of Washington (USA) and Dr. Vivien Petras of Humboldt University (Germany).

The Award Committee lauded the winning dissertation for its unique approach to the study of social media. “Dr. Panger’s thesis ‘Emotion in Social Media’ is a novel addition to the literature on the evolving state of self-representation in online environment. Contrary to stereotype, Panger found that people tend to wind down while browsing Facebook and Twitter. This combined with the other aspects of his study call for a more nuanced appreciation of the role of social media in our emotional lives. The skill with which Panger crafted the research question and research design set it apart from others in the competition. This, combined with his skill to communicate his research work at the intersections of conflicting concepts in the literature made it the clear winner for this year’s competition.”

The Committee had this to say about the runner up: “Dr. Cleverley’s dissertation ‘Re-examining and re-conceptualising enterprise search and discovery capability: Towards a model for the factors and generative mechanisms for search task outcomes’ utilizes a mixed-methods longitudinal case study with over 220 participants to develop a socio-technical framework for enterprise search information needs, search modalities and the factors impacting the search outcomes. The combination of the different empirical methods with the theoretical perspectives of the cultural and historical activity and complexity theories resulted in a sophisticated model, which achieved the runner-up position in the 2018 competition.”

Dr. Panger and Dr. Cleverley will be recognized during a presentation at the iSchools annual banquet, which takes place Tuesday, March 27 at this year’s iConference. The winner will receive a cash prize of $2,500 US, the runner up $1,000.

The iSchools will begin accepting nominations for next year’s Award in July. All member schools are invited to submit a nomination. The iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award was established in 2013 to honor outstanding work in the information field. Click here for details on current and former honorees.

About the iSchools
The iSchools organization was founded in 2005 by a collective of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field in the 21st Century. It has since grown into a consortium of more than 80 universities and institutions spanning five continents. The organization is incorporated as iSchools Inc. in Washington, DC.

The iSchools organization supports student achievement through its annual Doctoral Colloquium and Doctoral Dissertation Award, as well as other special contests and mentoring opportunities. The iSchools also provide collaboration tools and other support to assist faculty in their teaching and research endeavors. Every year, the iSchools organization presents the iConference, a forum in which information scholars, researchers and professionals share their insights on critical information issues in contemporary society. The next iConference is scheduled to take place March 25-28, 2018 in Sheffield, UK.


Berkeley’s iSchool Review Seeks Contributions from Masters’ Students


The iSchool at the University of California, Berkeley has issued a Call for Contributions to the third issue of The iSchool Review. The publication debuted two years ago, designed specifically for work from master’s students in professional degree programs.

The Call for Contributions contains complete submission guidelines. Submissions will be reviewed in two rounds, with Round 1 submissions due Oct. 27, 2017 and Round 2 due Nov. 17, 2017. Submissions from students at any iSchool will be considered.

Those interested in learning more about the publication are invited to review issue #2 online.

The iSchool Review is a publication of the iSchool at Berkeley, a member of iSchools Organization; the iSchools Organization endorses the publication, but is not responsible for its content.


Call for Content: iSchool Review – second issue


Berkeley, California (USA). -“The iSchool Review is a new publication designed specifically for work from master’s students in professional degree programs. As we begin to compile content for the second issue, we are seeking submissions related to information management, information design and information policy.
From traditional essays or policy papers to interactive information visualizations or UI/UX projects, we aim to publish cutting-edge works that further the interdisciplinary trajectory of 21st-century iSchools.
We will review submissions in two rounds, with a degree of preference given to early submitters. Following are the deadlines:
Round 1: Friday, 9 September 2016; and
Round 2: Friday, 21 October 2016.”
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iSchools Announce 2016 Doctoral Dissertation Award Honorees


The iSchools organization is pleased to announce that the winner of the 2016 iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award is Dr. Ashwin J. Mathew. Dr. Mathew’s dissertation, “Where in the World is the Internet? Locating Political Power in Internet Infrastructure,” was judged the best to have been completed at a member-iSchool in the preceding academic year. The runner up was Dr. Briony Birdi for her dissertation titled, “We are here because you were there: an investigation of the reading of, and engagement with, minority ethnic fiction in UK public libraries.”

The iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award recognizes outstanding work in the information field. Nominations are solicited from all members of the iSchools organization, now 65 institutions worldwide, and judged by a selection committee drawn from leading international schools. The winner receives a prize of $2,500 US, the runner up $1,000. Honorees are also offered a travel allowance so they can collect their award in person at iConference 2016, which takes place March 20-23, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA.

2016 award winner Ashwin J. Mathew is a Visiting Scholar at the UC Berkeley School of Information, and Internet Infrastructure Researcher at Packet Clearing House, an international organization responsible for providing operational support and security to critical Internet infrastructure. He graduated with a Ph.D. from the UC Berkeley School of Information in 2014. Before that, he spent a decade working as a software engineer and technical architect in companies such as Adobe Systems and Sun Microsystems.

“Dr. Mathew’s thesis, ‘Where in the World is the Internet? Locating Political Power in Internet Infrastructure,’ exemplifies the close ties between information technology and social science (in this case, ethnographic) research,” said Dr. Michael Seadle, head of the iSchool at Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, who co-chaired the 2016 Award along with Dr. Shigeo Sugimoto, head of the iSchool at the University of Tsukuba in Japan. “The author looked at how the decision-making processes in the contemporary networked environment influence and depend on political circumstances, and gathered his data through skilled observation and direct involvement. In the final the reviewers all agreed that this was an outstanding work that richly deserved the prize.”
2016 runner up Briony Birdi is a Lecturer in Librarianship at the Information School, University of Sheffield, where she also completed her Ph.D. and MA in Librarianship. Her research focuses on reading research and the promotion of literature and reading, and public and youth libraries, with an emphasis on social justice and diversity. She currently leads the Centre for the Public Library and Information in Society (CPLIS), which provides a focus for the School’s work in the public library sector. Since 2009 Birdi has been working at the University on a part-time basis, balancing an academic career and family life.

“Dr. Birdi’s thesis: ‘We are here because you were there: an investigation of the reading of, and engagement with, minority ethnic fiction in UK public libraries,’ addresses a current social and political issue involving minority ethnic fiction using three empirical studies to survey reading habits,” said Dr. Seadle. “The reviewers also agreed that this dissertation was a serious competitor for the prize and clearly deserved to be the runner up.”

Click here for more information about the 2016 Doctoral Dissertation Award honorees, including research abstracts.

The 2016 iSchools Doctoral Dissertation Award honorees will be recognized at a gathering of their peers at iConference 2016, which takes place March 20-23, 2016, in Philadelphia. The iConference is an international gathering of scholars and researchers concerned with critical information issues in contemporary society. The iConference is presented by the iSchools organization, and hosted each year by a different member school. The 2016 host is the Drexel University College of Computing & Informatics; this year’s conference theme is Partnership with Society.

The iSchools organization is a worldwide association of Information Schools dedicated to advancing the information field. These schools, colleges, and departments have been newly created or are evolving from programs formerly focused on specific tracks such as information technology, library science, informatics, information science, and more.


Publish Your Work in the iSchool Review


The iSchool Review, a new publication showcasing work from master’s students in professional degree programs, is seeking content for its inaugural issue. This is an opportunity for iSchool students to gain attention for their cutting-edge work. The inaugural issue will focus on information management, information design, and information policy.

The editors are seeking contributions that further the interdisciplinary trajectory of 21st-century iSchools. This can include traditional essays, policy papers, interactive information visualizations, UI/UX projects, and more.

The deadline for submission is Feb. 12, 2016. Submission requirements are included at the end of this post. The iSchool Review is published by the University of California, Berkeley, but masters students attending any iSchool are invited to submit. Questions can be sent to The URL is

In addition, a special session focused on the creation of the iSchool Review will take place at iConference 2016 in Philadelphia. SIE # 448 “iSchool Review” will take place Monday, March 21, 3:30-5:00 pm. Click here to view the iConference program schedule. Registration is now open.

iSchool Review Submission Guidelines

Each submission should include an abstract that contains the following:

  1. Title of Paper
  2. Name(s) of Author(s)
  3. Contact e-mail(s) for the author(s)
  4. Affiliated academic institution(s)
  5. A brief summary that provides a high-level overview of the work and explains its significance to the relevant field(s).
  6. This summary should be no longer than 250 words.
  7. Acknowledgements (optional).
  8. 3 to 5 keywords that categorize the work.

Faculty Endorsement
Each work that is selected for publication will require an endorsement from a faculty member at the author(s)’s affiliated academic institution(s). The faculty endorsement should be about 250 words and should address the following: describe why the work submitted is important, how it advances the relevant field(s) and/or any noteworthy technical achievements.

NOTE: We do not require the faculty endorsement at the time of submission. However, if your submission is selected for publication you will be responsible for securing and submitting the faculty endorsement. Any/all authors whose work is selected for publication but fail to secure and submit a faculty endorsement will not actually be published in The iSchool Review.

Interactive Component(s)
As a digital-only publication, we seek to take of advantage of interactivity in each issue of The iSchool Review. To that point, we encourage submitters to include interactive components and visualizations when relevant. These interactive components as well as the text of the submissions will be considered when making the final selections for the publication.

If a submission’s interactive component is posted online, please include a link to the appropriate website(s). If the interactive component is not posted online, please include relevant screenshots.

Submissions should use Times New Roman font. The font size should be 12 pt. The text of the submission should be double-spaced. All pages should be numbered in the upper right hand corner.

Each submission should have a separate Works Cited page. Entries should be written according to APA style and listed alphabetically by author’s last name.

Submission Process
All submissions should be sent via email to and should be either in .doc or .docx format. Please submit by the appropriate deadline.

Please do not submit PDFs.

Any/all interactive component(s) should be included via screenshots and/or with a link to an external website.

Selection Process
The Editorial Board will hold a vote after each submission deadline.

Response Time
You can expect to receive a notification within four weeks after the relevant deadline for your submission.


Michael Buckland wins Kilgour Award


“The Library & Information Technology Association (LITA), a division of the American Library Association (ALA), has announced Michael Buckland as the 2014 winner of the Frederick G. Kilgour Award for Research in Library and Information Technology. The award, which is jointly sponsored by OCLC, is given for research relevant to the development of information technologies, especially work that shows promise of having a positive and substantive impact on any aspect(s) of the publication, storage, retrieval and dissemination of information, or the processes by which information and data is manipulated and managed. The awardee receives $2,000, a citation and travel expenses to attend the award ceremony at the ALA Annual Conference in Las Vegas, where the award will be presented on June 29, 2014.”

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