Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Beliefs and uses of tagging among undergraduates
by Kramer-Duffield, Jacob, Ph.D., The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010, 322; 3427766
Abstract (Summary)

Context. This dissertation examines beliefs and uses regarding tagging among current undergraduate students, and examines the ecology of communications practice and implications for formation and maintenance of identity within the population. Currently enrolled undergraduate students at UNC-Chapel Hill formed the population for examination.

Approach. This study employed a mixed-methods approach that included a survey and a series of semi-structured interviews, with a random sample of 4000 for the survey and eight students for the interviews.

Analysis. Survey data was analyzed both qualitatively and quantitatively for the range of beliefs and uses of tagging, tagging systems and broader ecology of communications technologies. Interview data was coded and analyzed qualitatively for greater context of the survey results and to address any limitations of the initial stage of the survey.

Results. This dissertation found that undergraduate students are generally unfamiliar with the information-organization aspects of tagging. Undergraduates do not extensively use sites and services focused around tagging as information organization but are instead familiar with and use tagging almost exclusively within the context of Facebook photo tagging. This dissertation also examined the larger communications ecology of undergraduate students, finding substantial differences were found in students’ use of technologies depending on audience.

Conclusion. This research confirms undergraduate students are generally unfamiliar with the information-organization aspects of tagging, reporting greater social than academic use of tagging. Students use tagging primarily as a tool for social communication, recognition and identification within the context of online photos, which are posted and organized almost exclusively through the social network site Facebook rather than photo-sharing sites. Though information organization is not a primary context or use for tagging among undergraduate students, the range of practice surrounding Facebook photo tagging does present a “way in” for new potential interfaces and implementations of tagging on the social web and for educators. Students are also found to use different communications technologies in their interactions with social, familial and academic audiences, in part as a manner of combatting the context collapse taking place on social network sites and mediated communications generally.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Greenberg, Jane
Commitee: Jones, Paul, Kalyanaraman, Sri, Marchionini, Gary, Pomerantz, Jeff
School: The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Department: Information & Library Science
School Location: United States -- North Carolina
Source: DAI-A 72/01, Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Information science
Keywords: Facebook, Identity, Sns, Survey, Tagging, Undergraduates
Publication Number: 3427766
ISBN: 9781124324319
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