Thursday, Dec. 11, 4:30pm-5:30pm
Hamilton Library, 3F
ABSTRACT: If voter turnout for the 2014 midterm election is any indication of local civic engagement, Hawaii is at a new low. One panacea touted by the popular press is the use of social media to increase civic participation, but research on their effects on democracy has been mixed.
What is known is that more people are using sites such as Twitter to learn about politics, often supplementing a diet of traditional media sources. For example, more U.S. citizens are using mobile devices to track political events that they are simultaneously watching on TV. The phenomenon – called “second screening,” “dual screening,” “back-channeling” or “social watching” – is the focus of my research.
Second screening creates a hybrid media environment where users combine a one-to-many broadcast and a many-to-many networked conversation. Users process both information streams to create an individualized story of what happened during a political event. As Henry Jenkins observed, it is a form of convergence that “occurs within the brains of individual consumers.”
Researchers studying second screening have used network analysis, content analysis and interviews to explore the phenomenon, but few scholars have used experimental methods to understand how this type of convergence influences the way users learn about politics.
My research goal is to explore how social media affect interpretations of broadcasted political messages and vice versa. In what ways do social and traditional media messages overlap, converge and interrupt each other? To this end, I plan to conduct an experimental study to test the effects of social media participation and socio-technical context on political learning.
The potential benefit of the research approach is a better theoretical understanding of “masspersonal” communication and its effects on political deliberation, as well as to provide recommendations on the design of civic spaces and communities.