Web Currencies

Paper citation: Gerlitz, Carolin, and Anne Helmond. 2013. “The Like Economy: Social Buttons and the Data-Intensive Web.” New Media & Society 15 (8): 1348–65. doi:10.1177/1461444812472322. http://nms.sagepub.com/content/15/8/1348.abstract .

Team Members

Vera Bekema, Carolin Gerlitz, Brittney Fosbrook and Anne Helmond


Digital methods research has primarily focused on the link, the website, spheres and the search engine as important methodological tools for engagement. As we have seen since the emergence of 'web 2.0' many of the categories and currencies that helped to make sense of the web, by ranking and recommending, are collapsing. How well do our current research methods that do not explicitly account for the intricacies introduced by social networking activities hold up? How do we account for and accurately capture likes, shares and comments on social networking sites? Do these activities provide a new currency for the web?

Research Question

Do social media activities create a web currency outside of the link?


  1. Search for the top 100 results for “oil spill” in Google Web, Google News and Google Blogs.
  2. Collected the following numbers for the top 100 results in each sphere (web, news, blogs):
    1. Automated Counts (Tool created by DMI):
      1. Number of Likes on Facebook: http://developers.facebook.com/tools/lint/
      2. Number of Shares on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/share/ Link to share - custom URL - enter
      3. Total FB Social Index Number (likes, shares, clicks, comments)
      4. Links and retweets through Twitter
    2. Manually Counted:
      1. In-Links to each of the sites from web: Search for the (number of) inlinks to the top 100 using Yahoo! Site Explorer, click on inlinks.
      2. Whether or not the article contained a share or like button
      3. Number of Diggs: Calculated total Diggs through Digg search
    3. Divided sites from web, blogs and news into categories
    4. Visualized


Three Areas Addressed:

  1. Are the top sites according to Google Web, Google News and Google Blogs correlated to social media activities on these sites?

Sphere Overlap

Uniques / Overlaps in Spheres

  1. How social are the spheres? Does categorizing spheres even make sense?

Zoom in: Blog Sphere

Zoom in: News-sphere

3. What types of sites are more likely to be liked, shared and commented on? Does this have anything to do with the presence of buttons to easily share sites?

Which Blog categories do generate the most activities on Facebook?

Which news categories do generate the most likes and shares on Facebook?

The Likeliness of Like (Websphere)

How does the activity of "liking" an article correlate with other social activities or with the position of an article in the Google ranking.

Issues and Limitations

Further Research

-- BrittneyFosbrook - 13 Aug 2010

  • overlappingspheres_withtemplate.png:
I Attachment Action Size Date Who Comment
Average_FB_Activity_in_Blogs.pngpng Average_FB_Activity_in_Blogs.png manage 49 K 13 Aug 2010 - 14:01 BrittneyFosbrook  
Correlation_Data.xlsxxlsx Correlation_Data.xlsx manage 34 K 19 Aug 2010 - 14:53 CarolinGerlitz  
Currency_websites_VB-2.pngpng Currency_websites_VB-2.png manage 134 K 13 Aug 2010 - 14:03 BrittneyFosbrook  
Google_Results_Oil_Spil_clean_top_100.xlsxls Google_Results_Oil_Spil_clean_top_100.xls manage 25 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:02 BrittneyFosbrook  
How_Social_is_the_Web_with_Inlinks.aiai How_Social_is_the_Web_with_Inlinks.ai manage 1 MB 19 Aug 2010 - 22:12 CarolinGerlitz  
How_social_is_the_Web_-_Blog_Zoom.pngpng How_social_is_the_Web_-_Blog_Zoom.png manage 65 K 13 Aug 2010 - 14:57 CarolinGerlitz  
How_social_is_the_Web_-_News_Zoom.pngpng How_social_is_the_Web_-_News_Zoom.png manage 55 K 13 Aug 2010 - 14:58 CarolinGerlitz  
How_social_is_the_web_.pngpng How_social_is_the_web_.png manage 92 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:44 BrittneyFosbrook  
LikelinessofLike.jpgjpg LikelinessofLike.jpg manage 61 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:52 BrittneyFosbrook  
News_Like__Share.php.png.txttxt News_Like__Share.php.png.txt manage 85 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:53 BrittneyFosbrook  
Oil_Spill_Currency_5.xlsxls Oil_Spill_Currency_5.xls manage 164 K 19 Aug 2010 - 14:52 CarolinGerlitz  
overlappingspheres.pngpng overlappingspheres.png manage 55 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:57 BrittneyFosbrook  
overlappingspheres_withtemplate.pngpng overlappingspheres_withtemplate.png manage 133 K 10 Sep 2010 - 14:35 AnneHelmond  
sizeofuniqueness.pngpng sizeofuniqueness.png manage 36 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:58 BrittneyFosbrook  
socialmediaplatform_list.xlsxls socialmediaplatform_list.xls manage 312 K 19 Aug 2010 - 14:53 CarolinGerlitz  
theweb_facebookactivity.pngpng theweb_facebookactivity.png manage 65 K 13 Aug 2010 - 13:49 BrittneyFosbrook  
Topic revision: r9 - 27 May 2014, AnneHelmond
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