Communication has changed drastically since the advent of the internet. Weblogging allows individuals to share knowledge, opinions, and more. Similar to weblogging, microblogging allows quick sharing in short bursts. With Twitter, for example, users have 140 characters for pretty much anything they feel driven to share. But what makes us feel the need to share with out online community? How are those communities created? Researchers found that three factors determine an individual’s willingness to share via weblogging: fairness, identification, and openness. (Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2009)
Fairness, as defined by Yu, Lu, and Liu (2009) is the social equity between those sharing and those receiving the knowledge, the way the individuals within the community are regarded, and the level of trust the individual has of the community as a whole. They cite research which suggests that individuals prefer to be part of a group working towards similar goals, and as such, will strive to maintain reciprocity in knowledge sharing toward achieving collective goals.
Identification is the way which people see themselves fitting into the group. When a person identifies more as a functional influence within the group; or sees a value in themselves with regards to the group, they are more likely to put more effort into sharing and other interactions. (Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2009)
Openness defines the reception of the community to the message. Norms are established within groups, and the openness of the group to additional information, discussion of information already shared, and the introduction of new ideas within the context of the groups norms, is determined by the level of openness. In other words, for an individual to be keen on sharing, they must feel that the group is open to receiving the knowledge they have to share. (Yu, Lu, & Liu, 2009)
Twitter engages individuals in these ways. Research shows that ‘Tweeps’ tend to belong to communities with specific interests, in which they share information and impression; as well as discussing personal feelings and daily goings on (Java, Song, Finin, & Tseng, 2007). But Twitter is one example of microblogging and knowledge sharing. While research has been done to measure variables such as geographic variability in users, as well as user intention, there have been little, if any, studies done on personality variables in medium preference (e.g., Twitter vs. WordPress vs. fan fiction forums). Until we have explored more variables, we have an understandably limited view of what drives people to share information they way they do.
Java, A., Song, X., Finin, T., & Tseng, B. (2007). Why we Twitter: Understanding microblogging usage and communities. Retrieved from: http://dl.acm.org/citation.cfm?id=1348556
Yu, T., Lu, L., & Liu, T. (2008). Exploring factors that influence knowledge sharing behavior via weblogs. Computers in Human Behavior, 26, 32-41.