Summary of Research

Article I: Longitudinal Life Narratives

In this study researchers are seeking to better understand the phenomena of sustained social media use for applications to longitudinal research.  While seeking evidence of sustained social media use, researchers are ultimately searching for a better understanding of how digital spaces have become an integral part of many people’s lives.  The researchers specifically focus on the Facebook environment, seeking sustained use of five years or more among younger participants in their 20s.  While many studies of digital social spaces include content analysis and “big data” research methods, this research study sought to use digital spaces for a qualitative review.  Researchers argue that inclusion of social networking data can provide useful contributions to longitudinal research data.  Researchers also examined limitations of sustained social media use’s contributions to longitudinal research as well as ethical considerations involved in doing so.

Article II: Research in the Cyber Era

This research seeks to find detailed information that can contribute to the understanding of how persons experience life in digital spaces, specifically in social media spaces.  The researchers are examining how digital research data from digital spaces can contribute to traditional forms of research to better understand social phenomena. This research study included an examination of two previous ethnographic studies, specifically and included multiple digital spaces- Facebook, Yelp, and corporate websites.   The overarching application to this research is to inform social scientists how online spaces may help better understand communities and social interactions.  This research study involved the argument that in order to better understand social processes that inclusion of participants’ online experiences should be included in order to understand their lives.

Defining Digital Ethnography

Article I

In this research study digital ethnography is defined by the use of social media over five or more years in the Facebook environment.  The focus was on understanding Facebook as a timeline and how data from people’s experiences on Facebook over time could be used as a tool for longitudinal research.  The research specifically focuses on participants involved in a “scrolling back” methodology to examine users involvement and evolution of social media use over time.  The approach in this research study included personal interviews and engaging moments between the researcher, the research participant, and the research participant’s Facebook page.  The interesting approach to this research is that it in some ways reflects the use of interviews.  Participants were allowed to engage with their social media site, examining dated posts up to present- so they were engaged in a ethnography of sorts of their posts over time.


Article II

In this research study digital ethnography is defined as the use of online services in a person’s daily life, specifically examining their use of  Facebook, Yelp, and corporate websites.  The researchers considered the “online habitat” as a person’s digital footprint in their life and stressed the importance of studying and understanding this digital footprint as well as one’s “natural habitat”.  Borrowing from former research, the researchers utilized multiple sites in order to better understand online habits and how environments may differ and so one’s experience may differ across digital environments.  In this particular research study the two selected digital environments varied significantly in order to show how researchers should be including online research in addition to traditional methods in order to better understand behaviors and the influences of digital social environments.

Compare and Contrast

A comparison of these two  studies demonstrates how examination of digital spaces can have both overlap as well as unique considerations.  Both research studies involve digital ethnography, both include examination of a social media space, and both directly or indirectly include immediate interaction with participants but in application to their digital experiences, aka their digital habitats or lives.  The two research studies vary in that in Study I, Facebook is the only examined digital environment and participants sat down and completed what was called a “scrolling back” where a researcher and the participant were together while the participant scrolled through their Facebook environment looking back at aged posts up to present time.  In the second, Study II, the researchers called upon two previous studies and the studies included an examination of three digital spaces- Facebook, Yelp, and corporate websites.  Face to face interviews were followed up by examination of participants Facebook pages, as well as exploration of websites and how those websites influenced participants to act in certain ways.  Yelp was included in order to better understand participants habits, specifically how they obtained information, visited, and then critiqued a specific space.  Both research studies included digital ethnography with some similarities but marked methodological differences.  Study I provided participants an opportunity to explore their past posts and have meaningful reflections of their online social experiences.  Study II was more comprehensive in terms of approach by using three different sources of digital data but there exploration was limited in terms of how participants experienced their digital habitat.  Overall I would say that Study II was more effective in better understanding how digital spaces and experiences can contribute to more traditional forms of research since it was more comprehensive but the depth of understanding of how digital spaces influence people’s lives was more effective in Study I.

Facebook and Ethnography


FutureOfFacebook. (April, 2011). Scott smith- how is facebook changing the nature of ethnographic research? Retrieved from



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