Next Seminar (May 14)

Online social networks (OSN) are major platforms of ICT-enabled communication, supporting place-independent social life; however, recent findings suggest that geographical location of users and their friends is a determining factor for network topography. Therefore, OSNs may be expected to bear features of cyberspace and offline geographies simultaneously. The talk will address this dual-faced phenomenon from a geography perspective: how do offline factors shape spread of online communities and local levels of activity in them? Our first findings on iWiW, a leading OSN in Hungary with more than 4 million users, suggest that user rate (proxy for spread) is positively associated with settlement size and geographical proximity of Budapest. On the other hand, the settlement level average degree (proxy for activity) is independent from settlement size and is higher in peripheral regions of the country. Therefore, proximity favours offline spread of OSNs while communication on these platforms might be even enhanced by distance. Since the full iWiW dataset has been accessed lately, we will shed light on future research steps exploring the controversial role of distance in online social networks.