#purpose (1)

Liza Potts’ (2014) research into the nature of social media is notable, indeed, especially because too few researchers choose to invest their time and effort in social media, a research area subject to rapid development and change. Her justifications for this inquiry into social media research were compelling, too, claiming we can no longer “ignore the social web,” not as it begins to predominate our most frequently-used communication networks. That is, social media networks are to be studied using Actor-Network Theory (ANT) to investigate how specific social media sites and tools have been used in recent disasters by laypeople, and to draw conclusions applicable to future disasters and the communication needs they might present (Potts, 2013). Equally notable was her purpose in redirecting analytical attention away from organizations and corporations and towards laypeople as communicators or actors within a network. Her reasoning was as follows:

The days of the academics standing on the sidelines are over. If we do not make these moves, our colleagues and competitors will surely leave us behind. And our participants are already doing so. We must join them and be the agents of social change (Potts, 2013, p. 109).