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The irony of serendipity: disruptions in social information behaviour
Stockholm University, Faculty of Humanities, Department of Media Studies.
2012 (English)In: Library hi tech, ISSN 0737-8831, Vol. 30, no 2, 321-334 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Purpose. This paper proposes that the current social media surge gives rise to what can be called social information behaviour. Social information behaviour is characterized, at least partly, by a tension between serendipity and disruption. While serendipity is a promoted feature of social media and social information behaviour, social disruption can be seen as its ironic counterpart. This paper goes on to explore different kinds of social disruption that emerge with the use of social media services.

Design/methodology/approach. The paper uses a meta-ethnographical approach and draws on results from three online ethnographic studies. User activities are conceptualized as social information behaviour and focus is put on potential social disruption.

Findings. The paper discusses five prevalent tensions relating to social disruption: market logic and social logic; public and private; work and non-work; individual and collective; and IRL (In Real Life) or AFK (Away From Keyboard).

Research limitations/implications. The paper mainly focuses on the disruptive side of social information behaviour. Future work would include studies and comparisons of serendipitous effects.

Practical implications. The findings are relevant for library and information science academics, analysts and professionals interested in social information behaviour as it emerges over new social mediating technologies.

Originality/value. This paper proposes the notion of social information behaviour and provides a conceptual analytical pair in serendipity and social disruption. Theoretical discussion is conducted with reference to ‘ironic technics’ (2008). The paper compiles and highlights prevalent social disruptions from previous online ethnographical studies on social media usage.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
2012. Vol. 30, no 2, 321-334 p.
Keyword [en]
Online ethnography, social information behaviour, serendipity, ironic technics
National Category
Media Studies
Research subject
Communication Studies
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-65620DOI: 10.1108/07378831211239988ISI: 000306380700008OAI: diva2:464226
Available from: 2011-12-12 Created: 2011-12-12 Last updated: 2012-10-02Bibliographically approved

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Skågeby, Jörgen
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