Member engagement within digitally enabled social network communities: New methodological considerations
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Digitally enabled social networks (DESN) are a complex assemblage of engagement, reflection, action, technology, organization and community. DESN create a unique challenge for researchers who aim to understand what social networks are, what they can become and what enablers and constraints underlie trajectories of member engagement. As DESN continually evolve, knowing them as stable and reified representations or as mere technology artefacts provides a limited understanding of their complexity and emergent properties. While DESN are, in part, the technology that supports the necessary actions for engagement, they are also the people and behaviours that constitute its community. Through the presentation of new methodological considerations towards Digg, a large DESN, we observe that social networks entail practices of engagement, change and evolution within a DESN community. We reveal how engagement is a communal endeavour and that the clash of socio-technical trajectories can result in the emergence of new paths of member participation. Our findings demonstrate the potential of netnography and impressionist tales for contributing to the ongoing pluralistic investigations of DESN and also inform research on engagement and community design and change.
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