Abstract - The Information Society 25(1)

Exploring Qualitative Sharing Practices of Social Metadata: Expanding the Attention Economy

Jörgen Skågeby

Social metadata is receiving interest from many domains, mainly as a way to aggregate various patterns in social networks. Few scholars have, however, taken the perspective of end-users and examined how they utilize social metadata to enrich interpersonal communication. The results of a study of end-user practices of social metadata usage are presented in this paper. Data was gathered from a variety of online forums by collecting and analyzing user discussions relating to social metadata supporting features in Facebook. 315 relevant comments on social metadata usage were extracted. The analysis revealed the use of experimental profiles, clashes between work and non-work related social metadata usage and differences in users’ social investment, causing social dilemmas. The study also resulted in developments of theory relating to social metadata and relationship maintenance. In conclusion social metadata expands a pure “attention economy”, conveying a much wider qualitative range of social information.


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