Here is an interesting article
evaluating social networking site's potential for civic engagement. Byrne analyzes discussion forums on one popular black social networking site, BlackPlanet
,and indicates that members are interested in discussing black community issues in these forums. However, these online social networking resources are not mobilized toward civic engagement.
I like Byrne's research method and design in this paper. For instance, in order to evaluate whether the most popular discussion forums (including automobiles, campus life, finance, current events etc.) on BlackPlanet reflect critical issues of black community, Byrne used 10 issues identified in The Covenant with Black America
as a framework for determining issues of common concern, and developed a list of 31 keywords that were then used to search the forums. Surely this approach does not reveal the nature of discussion, but it effectively measures how these forums and discussions relate to critical civic issues within black community.
I think this methodology is instructive and useful.