The Social Media

Benefits and limits of social media for dissemination of research

Media and technologies are central in the dissemination of knowledge and research. For instance, cameras and photographs have significantly influenced the development of the discipline of ethnology and fieldwork methods. Sound recording and, later, video have in a similar manner played a central role in ethnography and in the documentation and communication of research, including Sámi research. Uses of media and technologies in research are an interesting and important topic of study, as they reflect the gaze and positionality of the researcher, and the various degrees of agency of research participants. This is especially relevant in Sámi and Indigenous contexts, where principles such as sharing knowledge, restitution and dissemination of research are promoted.  

More recent changes in our media landscape include the increased use and ubiquity of digital media. Social media platforms, for instance, play a key role in everyday life for how we communicate, consume and share information. Likewise, research is highly influenced by digital media and the new information and communication technologies we have at hand.

Expectations for social media are high, but the means and prerequisites for their successful application in research are yet to be developed.

Social media can be beneficial tools for increasing visibility (of groups, languages, research, and so on) and for reaching out. There are expectations about how digital media can support Sámi research by facilitating principles of transparency of research and communication between communities and participants, and researchers. The internet in general, and digital media in particular, are often described in terms of utopian ideas and expectations of accessibility and democratization. But what are the implications for contemporary Sámi research? To what extent can digital media, in line with principles in Indigenous methodologies, support transparency, reciprocity and dissemination of knowledge?

Expectations and good intentions need to be nuanced in the light of social media logics and in relation to other structures that frame and limit contemporary research. Expectations for social media are high, but the means and prerequisites for their successful application in research are yet to be developed. Even though the idea and conception of transparency and reciprocity as facilitated by social media are attractive, they have yet to be proven in practice. Insight and communication are essential in Sámi and Indigenous research, but the assumption that social media is the right place to increase visibility and establish communication is contested.


Researcher

Coppélie Cocq