Jeffrey Boase







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Augmenting Survey and Experimental Designs with Digital Trace Data


Jeffrey Boase

Communication Methods & Measures

2016. 10:23, 165-166


How might researchers effectively integrate digital trace data into classic research designs? Rather than focusing on the validity or reliability of digital trace data, this article explores this question through the discussion of two studies.




Listening to Social Rhythms: Exploring Interactional, Time Stamped Data Using Sonification


Jack Jamieson and Jeffrey Boase

The SAGE Handbook of Social Media Research Methods


The popularity of social media has given rise to a vast number of time-stamped logs of tweets, blog posts, text messages, status updates, comments, shares and other communications. These data sets can be explored to identify new types of interactional patterns and trends. Data sonification – converting data into sound – is particularly well- suited to exploring temporal patterns within time-stamped log data because sound itself is inherently temporal and the human auditory system has excellent temporal resolution. This chapter presents examples of sonifications of social media data, discusses considerations for performing sonification-based analyses, and describes a study in which sonification was used to explore temporal patterns in mobile text message log data. The intent is to allow readers who are unfamiliar with sonification to understand its capabilities and limitations, as well as how they may apply sonification in their own research.




Political Conversations as Civic Engagement: Examining Patterns from Mobile Communication Logs in Japan


Takahisa Suzuki, Tetsuro Kobayashi, and Jeffrey Boase

 Mobile Media, Political Participation, and Civic Activism in Asia


Political conversation is regarded as an important form of political par- ticipation and civic engagement. Although significant differences have been found in the level of political conversation between countries, studies on political conver- sation in Japan are scarce. In this study, we investigated political conversation between people, considering the kinds of dyads in personal networks in Japan and how partners are selected. We pursued an exploratory analysis of the features of dyads in political conversation through mobile communication logs, comparing those in Japan and the US. For both countries, the results show that discussion of important topics and the number of voice calls in the afternoon was significant pre- dictors of political conversations. In Japan, discussing with other people and family were more significant predictors than for the US. These results may have important implications for clarifying the extent to which political conversations take place, with whom, and how they occur as a by-product of other topics.




Reconnecting Here and There: The Reactivation of Dormant Ties in the United States and Japan


Jeffrey Boase, Tetsuro Kobayashi, Andrew Schrock, Tsutomu Suzuki, and Takahisa Suzuki

American Behavioral Scientist

2015. 59:8, 931-945


This article examines the reactivation of dormant ties in Japan and the United States. Using the institutional approach to culture developed by Yamagishi et al., it is hypothesized that respondents living in Japan will be less likely to reconnect with dormant ties when prompted than respondents living in the United States. It is further hypothesized that interaction with kin and work ties will help to explain lower levels of reconnection in Japan than in the United States. To examine these hypotheses, we developed a field experiment in which 95 adults living in Japan and 68 adults living in the United States were prompted by a smartphone application to reconnect with dormant ties. The results of this study show strong support for the hypothesis that respondents living in Japan are less likely to reconnect with dormant ties than respondents living in the United States when prompted. There is also mixed support for the hypothesis that interaction with kin and work ties helps to explain lower levels of reconnection in Japan than in the United States.




Emerging From the Cocoon? Revisiting the Tele-Cocooning Hypothesis in the Smartphone Era


Tetsuro Kobayashi, Jeffrey Boase, Tsutomu Suzuki, and Takahisa Suzuki

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

2015. 20:3, 330-345


The tele-cocooning hypothesis posits that mobile communication increases interaction with communication rich ties, while simultaneously weakening interaction with communication weak ties. In this study, we demonstrate how smartphones can be used to mitigate tele-cocooning behavior by stimulating interaction with communication weak ties. Using a smartphone application to collect non-identifying mobile communication log data, we conducted a field experiment with 193 Japanese participants. The treatment consisted of onscreen reminders designed to stimulate interaction with communication weak ties. The results indicate that the treatment promoted the activation of communication weak ties and the acquisition of information through those ties, suggesting that smartphones can be utilized to promote access to social capital.




Tele-Cocooning: Mobile Texting and Social Scope


Tetsuro Kobayashi and Jeffrey Boase

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

2014. 19:3, 681-694


The present study examines the tele-cocooning hypothesis in the context of general trust using a nationally representative survey of Japanese youth. We find that although frequency of texting is positively correlated with general trust, this correlation is spuriously caused by how heavy mobile texters interpret the words “most people” in the general trust measurement. Heavy users assume that “most people” only refers to friends, family, and others going to the same school. When the effect of the “most people” assumption is controlled, the positive association between texting and general trust disappears. Further exploration of the data shows that heavy texting nevertheless has negative implications for social tolerance and social caution, both of which are theoretically proximate to general trust.




Measuring Mobile Phone Use: Self-Report Versus Log Data


Jeffrey Boase and Rich Ling

Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication

2013. 18:4, 508-519


Approximately 40% of mobile phone use studies published in scholarly communication journals base their findings on self-report data about how frequently respondents use their mobile phones. Using a subset of a larger representative sample we examine the validity of this type of self-report data by comparing it to server log data. The self-report data correlate only moderately with the server log data, indicating low criterion validity. The categorical self-report measure asking respondents to estimate “how often” they use their mobile phones fared better than the continuous self-report measure asking them to estimate their mobile phone activity “yesterday.” A multivariate exploratory analysis further suggests that it may be difficult to identify under- and overreporting using demographic variables alone.




Implications of Software-Based Mobile Media for Social Research


Jeffrey Boase

Mobile Media & Communication

2013. 1:1, 57-62


Software-based mobile media devices such as smartphones and tablets pose both theoretical challenges and methodological opportunities for social research. The first part of this article discusses how the complex, changing, and often idiosyncratic configuration of software-based mobile devices challenges the production of theoretical generalizations within and across populations. It is argued that overcoming this challenge involves attention to the mobile nature of these devices and focusing on clearly defined, widespread affordances. The second part of this article discusses ethical, philosophical, and theoretical issues surrounding the methodological opportunity to collect large quantities of behavioral data using software-based mobile devices.




No Such effect? The Implications of Measurement Error in Self-Report Measures of Mobile Communication Use


Tetsuro Kobayashi and Jeffrey Boase

Communication Methods and Measures

2013. 1:1, 57-62


Research on the social and psychological effects of mobile phone communication primarily is conducted using self-report measures of use. However, recent studies have suggested such measures of mobile phone communication use contain a significant amount of measurement error. This study compares the frequency of mobile phone use measured by self-report questions with error-free log data automatically collected through an Android smartphone application. Using data from 310 Android phone users in Japan, we investigate the extent to which nonrandom measurement error exists in self-report responses to questions about mobile phone use and predictors of this error. Our analysis shows that users generally overreport their frequency of mobile communication and that overestimation is better predicted by proxy measures of social activity than demographic variables. We further show an example of how overreporting can result in an overestimation of the effects of mediated communication on civic engagement. Finally, the value of behavioral log data in mediated communication research is discussed.




Bringing Mobiles Into The Conversation: Applying A Conversation Analytic Approach to the Study of Mobiles in Co-Present Interaction


Stephen DiDomenico and Jeffrey Boase

Discourse 2.0: Language and New Media

2013. D. Tannen & A. M. Trester (eds.) Georgetown University Press, pp. 119-132


This chapter summarizes a study involving a single instance of conversation taken from a larger collection of video taped naturally occurring interactions involving mobile phones. Using a conversation analytic approach, we draw on the concept of technological affordance and Goffman’s distinction between primary and secondary involvement to provide a nuanced look at how mobiles become integrated into co-present interaction. Three themes emerge from our data when mobiles are used during co-present interaction: shifting between primary and secondary involvement is highly dynamic, the shift to mobile use as a secondary involvement depends on the speaking role that is being enacted during the co-present involvement, and the distinction between primary and secondary involvement is blurred when reference to mobile interactions is made during co-present interaction. In each case, we argue that these occurrences can be explained with reference to the time and space transcending affordances of mobiles.




Mobile Communication Networks in Japan and America


Jeffrey Boase and Tetsuro Kobayashi

China Media Research

2012. 8:5, 90-98


Scholars have argued that interpersonal networks are more dominated by kin and work ties in Japan than in America. This paper seeks to examine the extent to which these differences manifest in the voice calling patterns of smartphone users in these two countries. We draw on data collected from a smartphone application that we designed to anonymously collect mobile log and pop-up survey data. The application was used to collect data from 226 adults in living in Japan and 195 adults living in America. Using descriptive and multivariate statistics we compare the voice call interaction patterns of respondents in these two countries. We conclude by discussing the extent to which the concept of interpersonal collectivism can be applied to understand different patterns of mobile communication in Japan and America.




Core Discussion Networks in Japan and America


Jeffrey Boase and Ken'ichi Ikeda

Human Communication Research

2012. 38:1, 95-119


Arguments regarding the high prevalence of interpersonal collectivism in Japan typically hinge on the assumption that Japanese communication networks are more enduring, frequently contacted, and dominated by kin and work ties than networks in Western countries. However, this assumption has not been examined using nationally representative data. Our analysis is based on core discussion network data collected from the 2003 Japanese General Social Survey and the 2004 American General Social Survey. Our results do not support this assumption in regards to frequency of contact nor dominance of kin and work ties. Nevertheless, there is some indication of high interpersonal collectivism in Japan insofar as Japanese core networks are somewhat more enduring than American core networks.




Multiple Discussion Networks and Their Consequences for Political Participation


Ken'ichi Ikeda and Jeffrey Boase

Communication Research

2011. 38:5, 660-683


Social capital studies have provided some evidence that discussion networks increase political participation. However, a counterargument is that discussion with heterogeneous networks may instead decrease political participation. We examine the empirical validity of this claim using multiple discussion network data collected through the 2003 Japanese General Social Survey. We find that talking about politics positively affects political participation, irrespective of whether politics is the main subject of conversation or merely a by-product of conversation about other topics. Further, our results do not support the somewhat controversial claim that interacting with others holding opposing political views decreases political participation. To the contrary, we find a positive link between political heterogeneity and political participation in a variety of discussion networks.




Rural Community Participation, Social Networks, and Broadband Use: Examples from Localized and National Survey Data


Michael J. Stern, Alison E. Adams, and Jeffrey Boase

Agricultural and Resource Economics Review

2011. 40:2, 158-171


Although attention has been given to how broadband access is related to economic development in rural areas, scant consideration has been given to how it may be associated with voluntary participation. This issue is important in that numerous studies have shown how much more vital community participation is in rural areas as compared to suburban and urban places. Drawing on three diverse data sets, we examine the influence of broadband access on community participation. In addition, we explore whether broadband access exerts its influence through, in conjunction with, or independent of social networks. The results suggest that broadband access and social network size have independent effects on volunteering in rural places.




The Consequences of Personal Networks for Internet Use  in Rural Areas


Jeffrey Boase

American Behavioral Scientist

2010. 53:9, 1257-1267


Why are there fewer Internet users in rural areas than in urban areas? Researchers addressing this question typically focus on the lack of Internet infrastructure and demographic factors in rural areas. Rural areas often lack affordable Internet connectivity and contain relatively high numbers of people who are unlikely to adopt Internet connections at home—specifically the elderly and those without a postsecondary education.Although infrastructure and demographics are undoubtedly important factors, equalizing Internet adoption in rural and urban areas may require more than simply providing infrastructure that is affordable to a population of the right demographic composition. Drawing on the personal network approach and the concept of direct network externality, the author argues that the composition of personal networks in rural areas may hamper general levels of Internet adoption and high-speed Internet connection at home. To examine the empirical validity of this argument, the author conducted descriptive and multivariate analyses on data collected from a random-digit dial survey of 2,200 American adults.




Is it Really About Me?

Message Content in Social Awareness Streams


Mor Naaman, Jeffrey Boase, and Chih-Hui Lai

Proceedings, the 2010 ACM Conference on Computer Supported Cooperative Work

February 6–10, 2010, Savannah, Georgia


In this work we examine the characteristics of social activity and patterns of communication on Twitter, a prominent example of the emerging class of communication systems we call “social awareness streams.” We use system data and message content from over 350 Twitter users, applying human coding and quantitative analysis to provide a deeper understanding of the activity of individuals on the Twitter network. In particular, we develop a content-based categorization of the type of messages posted by Twitter users, based on which we examine users’ activity. Our analysis shows two common types of user behavior in terms of the content of the posted messages, and exposes differences between users in respect to these activities.




Kei-Tying Teens: Using Mobile Phone Email to Bond, Bridge, and Break with Social Ties – A Study of Japanese Adolescents


Jeffrey Boase and Tetsuro Kobayashi

International Journal of Human-Computer Studies

2008. 66:12, 930-943


This paper examines the extent to which Japanese adolescents use mobile phone e-mail to bond, bridge, and break with social ties. Although existing literature shows that adolescents use mobile phone e-mail to bond with intimate strong ties, the fluid nature of social networks during adolescence suggests that mobile phone e-mail may also be used to bridge to new ties and to break with old ties. Drawing on a stratified random sample survey of 501 high school students living in Tokyo we find that mobile phone e-mail is used both to bond and bridge, but not to break with ties. We also find that the intensity with which Japanese adolescents use mobile phone e-mail is more fundamentally a result of bridging than bonding.




Personal Networks and The Personal Communication System


Jeffrey Boase

Information, Communication & Society

2008. 11:4, 490-508


In contrast to technologically deterministic approaches that focus on how communication technology affects social relationships, this paper examines how individuals draw on a variety of commonly used communication media in conjunction with in-person contact to stay connected to their personal networks. I term this use of multiple communication media the ‘personal communication system’. Findings are based on a random sample telephone survey of 2,200 adults living throughout the continental USA.




The Social Effects of Keitai and Personal Computer Email in Japan


Kakuko Miyata, Jeffrey Boase, and Barry Wellman

Handbook of Mobile Communication Studies

2008. J. E. Katz (ed.), MIT Press, 209-223


We use longitudinal data collected in Japan’s Yamanashi prefecture to address two questions.  First, is keitai used to form new relationships that provide important kinds of social support? Second, are keitai and PC e-mail used together to form and maintain supportive relationships, or do they play different roles in developing and maintaining social networks?




Personal Relationships: On and Off the Internet


Jeffrey Boase and Barry Wellman

The Cambridge Handbook of Personal Relationships

2006. A. L. Vangelisti & D. Perlman (eds.), Cambridge University Press, 709-723


This paper discusses the role of the internet in personal relationships. It starts with a brief description of the socially relevant characteristics of internet technology and a summary of the debate between utopian and dystopian accounts of internet use on personal relationships. Research indicates that the internet is neither destroying nor radically altering society for the better. It suggest that the interpersonal patterns associated with internet use are the continuation of a shift toward “networked individualism”, which is the transition from spatially proximate and densely-knit communities in which people belong, to more spatially dispersed and sparsely-knit personal networks in which people maneuver.




The Strength of Internet Ties


Jeffrey Boase, John B. Horrigan, Barry Wellman and Lee Rainie


2006. Pew Internet & American Life Project


This report has been downloaded from the Pew Internet & American Life’s website more than 30,000 times since its release in 2006, cited in the American Sociological Review and other scholarly journals, and discussed widely in the popular press. It uses data collected from a national telephone survey of 2,200 Americans to examine how the internet and e-mail aid users in maintaining their social networks and provide pathways to help when people face big decisions.




America Online and Offline: The Relationship of Personal Networks to Email and Other Communication Media


Jeffrey Boase

Doctoral Dissertation

2006. Department of Sociology, University of Toronto


This dissertation examines email’s utility for maintaining contact with large numbers of ties. I argue that although email lacks the rich sensory feedback that is available through synchronous communication, this apparent weakness makes it a useful medium for those who are highly connected. Email’s asynchronous nature helps these people avoid scheduling conflicts and keeps them in close contact with their many social ties. I further argue that the extent to which highly connected individuals use email is shaped by the kinds of ties that they have in their networks, the extent to which they use email in conjunction with other communication media, the strength of their ties, and their demographic characteristics. I examine these issues by analyzing data collected from a national telephone survey of 2,200 Americans.




Connected Lives: The Project


Barry Wellman and Bernie Hogan, and Kristen Berg, Jeffrey Boase, Juan-Antonio Carrasco, Rochelle Côté, Jennifer Kayahara, Tracy L. M. Kennedy and Phuoc Tran

Networked Neighbourhoods: The Connected Community in Context

2006.  P. Purcell (ed.), Springer Press, 161-216


This first paper from the Connected Lives project provides a preliminary view of the many linked paths that the University of Toronto’s NetLab is following. The Connected Lives project is the third study of East York and the first to take the Internet (and other ICTs) into account.




The Mobile-izing Japanese: Connecting to the Internet by PC and Webphone in Yamanishi


Kakuko Miyata, Jeffrey Boase, Barry Wellman, and Ken’ichi Ikeda

Portable, Personal, Pedestrian: Mobile Phones in Japanese Life

2005. M. Ito, M. Matsuda, & D. Okabe (eds.), MIT Press, 143-164


Japanese internet use occurs from both webphones and PCs. This first paper from the Winter 2002 Yamanishi study compares the social networks and internet use of those who use webphones only, PCs only, or both. We find the more, the more: those who use both internet media have larger networks and are more involved with the internet. Webphones and PCs are complementary, with webphones being used for quick information seeking and short messages with intimates, and PCs being used for more in-depth searches and longer messages with both intimates and weaker ties.




Canadians, Culture, and Computers


Jennifer Kayahara and Barry Wellman

With Jeffrey Boase, Bernie Hogan and Tracy Kennedy

Report to Heritage Canada



As the internet has become more commonplace, Canadians have begun to use the internet to engage with culture in their daily lives. In general, Canadians favour using the internet as a source of specific information to supplement more general information and recommendations gathered from offline sources. However, this varies somewhat according to individual orientations toward technology. People who are strongly enthusiastic about the possibilities of the internet tend to make wider use of it than people who view the internet as one tool among many. "Searching for Culture -- High and Low" is a more focused look at this research.




The Wired and Wireless Japanese:

Webphones, PCs and Social Networks


Kakuko Miyata, Barry Wellman, and Jeffrey Boase

Mobile Communications: Re-negotiation of the Social Sphere

2005. R. Ling & P. E. Pederson (eds.), Springer, 427-449


This chapter uses survey data from Yamanashi Prefecture to address ongoing debates about the effects of Internet use on community and social support. We focus on three research questions: Frist, who uses webphones and PCs to send e-mail? We examine the social characteristics and the social relationships of the users of Internet-connected webphones and PCs. Second, how do people use these media? We compare communication via web- phones and PCs. Third, to what extent are webphones and PCs used in social networks? We compare strong, supportive and weak ties and local and long-distance relationships.




Is there a Place in Cyberspace:

The Uses and Users of Public Internet Terminals


Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Barry Wellman, and Monica Prijatelj

Culture et Geographie

2003. 46, 5-20


This paper uses data from the National Geographic Survey 2000 to examine the users and uses of public Internet terminals. We contrast these users to those who access the Internet from home, work and school. Our findings show that public terminal users are disproportionately young, single, less educated, and have only recently started using the Internet.  The uses of the Internet vary less by place than the users. However, public terminals stand out for their higher recreational use and lower use for contacting friends and relatives. Yet, these places are not solely used by gamers, for public terminals are the scenes of relatively high instrumental use.




The Social Affordances of the Internet For

Networked Individualism


Barry Wellman, Anabel Quan-Haase, Jeffrey Boase, Wenhong Chen, Keith Hampton,

Isabel Isla de Diaz, and Kakuko Miyata

Journal of Computer Mediated Communication

2003. 8:3


We review the evidence from a number of surveys in which our NetLab has been involved about the extent to which the Internet is transforming or enhancing community. The studies show that the Internet is used for connectivity locally as well as globally, although the nature of its use varies in different countries. Internet use is adding on to other forms of communication, rather than replacing them. Internet use is reinforcing the pre-existing turn to societies in the developed world that are organized around networked individualism rather than group or local solidarities. The result has important implications for civic involvement.




The Global Villagers:

Comparing Internet Users and Uses Around the World


Wenhong Chen, Jeffrey Boase, and Barry Wellman

The Internet in Everyday Life

2002. B. Wellman and C. Haythornthwaite (eds.), Blackwell, 74-113


As the Internet evolves, its users and uses grow and diversify globally. Data from a National Geographic web survey enables us to compare how people in different parts of the world use the Internet. The widest digital divide is between North America and the rest of the world, and secondarily between other developed countries and developing countries. Substantial differences exist between who uses the Internet and how long they have been using it. The lower the percentage of people using the Internet in a region, the more elite the people using the Internet. However, newcomers to the Internet throughout the world are less likely to be elite and are more likely to resemble the diverse nature of North American Internet users. By contrast to regional differences in the characteristics of users, the Internet is used in similar ways worldwide. Throughout the world, frequent users tend to use the Internet in multiple ways – socially, instrumentally and recreationally  -- and to combine it with face-to-face and telephone contact. Moreover, frequent users of the Internet have a more positive sense of online community with friends and family.




The Networked Nature of Community Online and Offline


Barry Wellman, Jeffrey Boase, and Wenhong Chen

IT & Society

2002. 1:1 151-165


Evidence to address the debate about the impact of the Internet on community is thundering in. Three studies done at the NetLab are concomitant with general findings, both in North America and worldwide, that rather than weakening community, the Internet adds to existing face-to-face and telephone contact. Rather than increasing or destroying community, the Internet can best be seen transforming community such that it becomes integrated into rhythms of daily life, with life online integrated with offline activities.




A Plague of Viruses: Biological, Computer and Marketing


Jeffrey Boase and Barry Wellman

Current Sociology

2001. 49:6  39-55


We analyze the transfer of biological, computer and marketing viruses. Despite differences between these three types of viruses, network structure affects their spread in similar ways. We distinguish between two forms of networks – densely knit and ramified – and show that biological, computer and marketing viruses all behave in similar ways depending on the form of network. Densely knit networks promote the quick dissemination of a virus, and increase the odds that many of the members will become infected. Ramified networks allow a virus to disperse widely, jumping between different milieus.  In the end, the spread of viruses in the real world involves a combination of both densely knit and ramified networks, which we call “glocalization”.