Paul Lazarsfeld and Facebook: Re-Reading Personal Influence in an Age of Social Media​

Presented by Prof Tom O’Regan 

Date: 4 May, 2018
Time: 3pm-4pm
Location: Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2), Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37) 

Abstract:

When I put into the UQ library "Paul Lazarsfeld and Facebook" I got back 204 results. One was from The Economist in 2007 noting that Mark Zuckerberg’s discussion of  social media was ‘strikingly similar 'to that of Lazarsfeld and Katz 'in Personal Influence’ making it simultaneously  something ‘radically new’ or ‘reassuringly old’.  Lazarsfeld and Elihu Katz published Personal Influence in 1955. It was presented as a study of the 'role of people’ which treated interpersonal communication as if it were another medium. As they wrote:

Behind the design of this study was the idea that persons, and especially opinion leaders, could be looked upon as another medium of mass communication, similar to magazines, newspapers and radio. We could study their “coverage”, their effect, and, in a way, their content. (12) …. The individual person, must be studied in the setting of the primary group within which he lives.  (11-12)

If Lazarsfeld and Katz were approaching interpersonal communication and personal networks as if they amounted to medium in their own right; then Facebook and other social media were building a medium out of what was previously evanescent interpersonal networks. For Lazarsfeld and Katz personal influence was so central to the uptake of media, advertising, public opinion that if it a medium it would be the most powerful of all media.   By contrast Zuckerburg was interested in creating a medium of these evanescent networks. Facebook as a medium is built around the organizing, calibrating and recalibrating of personal networks. It pays for itself by monetising these users’ attention. Like commercial television its primary product is its audience commodity.  Personal influence had become a mediatized. The interpersonal network had become enabled, shaped and extended as an advertiser supported social media network. Interpersonal network effects were now a thing in themselves and in their own right. In this paper I want to ponder on the remarkable continuity of thinking connecting Lazarsfeld and Zuckerberg and to think about how each was centrally concerned not with the media providers nor indeed with media users but with establishing “audience measurement” and “metrics”—the pivotal middle bit between media providers and their audiences. 

 

Presenter:

Prof Tom O'Regan 

 

About Research Seminar and Workshop Series

 


The research seminar and workshop series' occur each semester, each with a different topic and guest speaker from UQ or otherwise.

Unless otherwise advertised, the seminars occur on a Friday afternoon from 3-4 pm in the Digital Learning Space (Room 224) in the Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37).

Semester 1, 2019 Seminars & Workshops

 

Friday, 26 July
3-4pm

School Forum

 

Friday, 2 August
3-4pm

Who Owns Your Face? Personal Identity Rights in the Era of Augmented Reality and Facial Recognition Technology

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Gordon Finlayson

Friday, 16 August
3-5 pm
 

3:00pm-4:00pm (Panel)

4:00pm- onwards (CAPS launch event)

CommArts Postgraduate Society Panel: “How to Write a Journal Article and Target the Right Journals”

CommArts Postgraduate Society Launch/ new HDR student welcome

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Angela Hannan (SCA Librarian)

Dr Elena Danilova (Scholarly Publishing, Library)

Dr Ted Nannicelli (Editor, Projections: The Journal for Movies and Mind)

Associate Professor Kelly Fielding (Communication scholar)

Dr Jennifer Clement (Literary Studies scholar)

Associate Professor Pradip Thomas (Communications, Media and Cultural Studies scholar)
Friday, 23 August
3-5 pm

All in One Quire: Emotional Communities in John Donne's Easter Sermons

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Jennifer Clement

Friday, 6 September
3-4pm

Examining intergenerational cultural transmission in refugee families: A study of Congolese, Burmese, and Ethiopian refugee families resettled in Australia

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Aparna Hebbani, A/Prof Levi Obijiofor and Mairead MacKinnon

Friday, 13 September
3-4pm

AustLit and BlackWords—Platforms for Storying Research

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Kerry Kilner and The AustLit Team

Friday, 20 September
3-4pm

Platform Anxieties in India

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Pradip Thomas
Friday, 27 September
3-4pm

Centre for Critical and Creative Writing Hosted Roundtable: The State of Australian Arts Criticism

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

 
Friday, 4 October
3-4pm

Enacting a Sense of Home Among Older Chinese Migrants in Australia

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

A/Prof Shuang Liu
Friday, 11 October
3-4pm

Selfies, Affordances, and Situational Properties

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Katrin Tiidenberg, Tallinn University

Friday, 18 October
3-4pm

To Not Die of History

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Cherry Smyth

Friday, 25 October
3-4pm

Why Paintings Matter: Filming Bruegel’s Hunters in the Snow (1565)

Digital Learning Space (Room 224, Level 2),
Joyce Ackroyd Building (#37)

Dr Andrea Bubenik