August 23, 2012 Leave a Comment
With more than 800 million active users (more than half of whom logon every day), it is no wonder so many people have written about Facebook. Some have looked at how political candidates use Facebook, other, rhetorically-minded scholars have seen it as a pedagogical aid. Oddly, however, Facebook has not received an adequate analysis as a unique, multimodal, rhetorical space. This is due, in large part, to a lack of analytical tools for such a diverse medium. A quick glance at the scholarship shows that some have done genre analyses while others have used traditional content analysis rubrics – but those are inadequate methods of analysis given the complexity of such a space. Similarly, traditional visual rhetoric tools would certainly shed light on particular aspects of Facebook but would also be left wanting in the face of so much data.
And if Facebook hasn’t received adequate analysis, Google’s recent launch into the social media world has received even less (considering it is about six years younger). Google+ has attracted few users relative to Facebook (around 40 million), but its initial rise to 25 million users happened 20 times faster than any other social networking site to date. As the only contender to Facebook with similar features, and as a new, unanalyzed space, it deserves critical attention.