We all realize by now that many people get their news via social networks, largely Facebook. This study looks at how sharing is related to two types of knowledge: factual and structural. First, the definitions. By factual knowledge, the authors mean exactly what you think they mean, the ability to correctly identify bits of information. "Structural knowledge, on the other hand, is conceptualized as being able to see the connections that exist between related concepts."
The first is easy to measure, the second a bit more of a challenge.
By knowledge structure density, they asked respondents how related they see two concepts on a seven-point scale until all possible combinations of the five items had been used -- Medicare, taxes, politics, economy, and debt.
Viewing news online, they found, is related to factual knowledge but not structural knowledge. But sharing is just the opposite, more related to structural as opposed to factual knowledge.
Interesting. Still trying to figure out exactly what this means in both a theoretical and practical sense.