A couple of weeks ago I noticed that the vast majority of my YouTube consumption came from links people in my Twitter, Facebook, etc. feeds posted to their timelines.

This got me thinking. How is our media consumption affected by our feeds (or our friends feeds actually)? Which types of media are affected more than others? For instance, watching a YouTube video, listening to a song or reading a news article online is a relatively small effort and a small "cost" (meaning time). It's a click away and will take ten minutes at most.

Reading a book or watching a movie on the other hand comes with a significantly higher cost. First you'll have to get the movie or the book, and then spend a substantial period of time either reading or watching the item.

Does this mean that only "short" media consumption is affected by our online friends? Or are we also investing time and money in the things we see our friends talk about?

How does this correlate to online recommendation sites which have a social network? Are we more inclined to see movies, read books and buy items that our friends have already seen/read/bought? Do we perhaps do that automatically since we probably share some values/interests with our friends anyway?

I had a short (in length and substance) paper at the Workshop on Social Recommender Systems at the IUI 2010 conference titled How Social Relationships Affect User Similarities where I discussed the fact that users who are friends in the Filmtipset online movie recommendation website had larger similarities to each other than to unrelated users. One thing I could not test however was whether users had watched a movie after they had seen it in their friends feed, or simply because they shared an interest in the movie with their friends.

The question I'm trying to ask is: How do our social ties actually affect our "long" (or costly) media intake?

I thought I'd set up an online questionnaire and ask people to answer some questions. However, before I do that, I might try to generate some discussion on the topic, trying to find the right questions to ask as well as trying to find any related litterature there is.

Please post comments, litterature, or any relevant ramblings either as comments here or to @alansaid


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