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Media Ethnography!!!

Most people are quite familiar with the online social network Facebook.com. For this Media Ethnography assignment I wanted to focus on the Events section of facebook. Here, facebook users can create events and send invitations to their facebook friends, informing them of the time, date, location and such necessary information. The event creator can also post pictures and videos for their event. Once the event is created the creator chooses who to send invitations to. The invitees have the option to RSVP with a Not Attending, Maybe, or Attending response. There is also a wall for the event. The wall (also present on each individual facebook subscriber’s page) is like a discussion board. On the events page the invitee must RSVP before they have the option to contribute to the wall, otherwise they will only be able to view other’s posts. The comments on the events walls vary; some of this has to do with the event itself, and some has to do with each individual invitee. Let’s take a look at a few examples now.

First a few things about the events in general: Facebook requires that the creator indicate the type of the event. The choices include party, causes, education, meetings, music/arts, sports, trips and other. Yet Facebook members are not limited by these eight choices.
Looking closer at the event wall and the responses of the invitees:
It seems that the responses on the event wall vary depending on a number of variables.

After looking through some of the party events (birthday, housewarming, and Halloween) I noticed that there are trends with the wall posts. A typical post includes regret for being unable to attend, often included with a reason. Another common post refers to a specific portion of the who, what, when and where of the event information. Often time this is something comical. For example, one invitee writes “had you gone with the mathematicians theme I would have been there...I'll just return my costume now Have fun!?. This is in response to the event’s theme, “THEME: Sexy Party - Dress sexy, we know you know how.(P.S.) This theme is also up for discussion, but it's a relatively easy one for such a short notice. Alternate theme options include: "16th century mathematicians" and "Prime Ministers of New Zealand." One other common theme among posts to party events is references to past memories with the party host. Some examples include, “ooooooo can we sing happy birthday in 5 part harmony? or have those days past?? and “Hmmmm. If I do come I'm sticking to beer. Remember last time??.
Another type of event that has become popular on facebook is the gathering of telephone numbers when cellphones have been lost/dropped/stolen. Here is an example of this type of event; the event page reads “Adam lost his cell phone and needs every number from every person in the entire galaxy. Msg it 2 me, or wall it, or email it, or call it in at ***-****.? (number removed from this post for security reasons). While this facebook event host received 77 attending RSVPS, 98 people did not RSVP. When asked about this the host, Adam, stated that many of the people just called him without responding. He said this actually worked better because then their numbers were automatically entered into his new cell phone. One of the posts on Adam’s event shows (satirically) why some invitees may hesitate before posting their private telephone number on a social network “I think someone stole your phone Paris Hilton style and posted all the numbers on the internet. I've been getting a bunch of calls from beautiful model/actress type women who want to have my children. At least they tell me they are beautiful model/actress types. You should attach your phone to one of those zip cords that comes off your belt, that way you won't put your friends in a situation like this again. Lots of love brother?.

Another type of event that has circulated the facebook scene is a “project invitation?. It’s quite possible that something similar was sent out by some of my CI 5472 classmates. These types of invents are much like a survey or a poll. They are used to gather information on the effectiveness of the facebook community or to gather signatures for a specific cause. One example is an event created by Steven who was attending a seminar and was given this assignment “This group is to get 1,000,000 signatures for a global communication contest I am in at a training seminar in San Diego. Please help us out by simply giving us a "signagture" with your name, city and country AND then asking your friends to do the same. We are trying to get 1,000,000 hits just using Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and a blog - http://www.noelheikkinen.com in 36 hours from all over the world (9am Thursday morning-Pacific Time). You can add to our numbers here by just signing the wall. I'll post our final tally, and let you know whether or not our team was the big winner in this global communication exercise!!!
Thanks, Steve?
Unfortunately Steve only received 134 wall posts, far from 1,000,000. Yet, he asked for names and locations. 8 countries were represented among his 134 wall posts (relatively impressive).
One of my speculations about these types of posts: yes it doesn’t take too much time to sign one’s name, but these types of invites come out more and more frequently. Steve’s event took place in Feb 2007, but I have received a number of these in the past year including the most recent invite from Beth , “I'm doing a paper in my Human Behaviors - The Psychology of Marketing class. The paper is about the marketing world and the changes that have taken place in the last 5 years. One of the main points that I'm trying to make is how influential viral marketing can be. One individual with an average facebook account can reach (screw it) 300,000+ people in less than 10 days just by making a group and inviting people. There have been other experiments where this worked, my paper talks about the likelihood that it can be duplicated?. Most wall posts were encouraging, or showed surprise at the numbers that Beth’s event was reaching, however, this post made me laugh “I must say I doubt I'll post more than this, but I joined for a friend... I'll sadly probably forget all about this group by the time I logout... nothing personal... lol...?.

So now that we’ve looked at a few different events that can be advertised on facebook, let’s do some analysis. For a refresher, the events include parties, lost phone numbers, and projects. The responses vary based on how well the host in know by the invitee, the number of other invitees, and the status of the RSVP. Plus, one must factor in how much time a person has when RSVPing. For some people just clicking attending or not attending is enough. Maybe they don’t have time to write a post, or maybe they don’t have much to say and will wait to save their words for the actual event.
One must also take into account the previous posts. If there tends to be a comical tone to the other posts on the wall it seems some people try to one up each other. Such as the responses to Mike’s Senior Art Show event; one invitee writes “Hey Mike, how about all of you send an invitation to the same damn thing. I'll be there...phuck. :)? . The next post up on the wall “I didn't think I could make it cause I, too, have MY senior art show that night...but, maybe I can squeeze it in.?
While the posts may seem insignificant at first glance, there is much to think about when taking a closer look. This was pretty interesting actually! I’ll probably think twice now before responding to that farewell concert coming up.