November 27, 2004

Internet Case Studies Postscript: Lies, Damn Lies, and E-Mail

One more item to add to the days we talked about Internet Studies and the Lotus Marketplace case (or, why my mother keeps forwarding me (false) consumer alerts on Swiffer Wet Jets, Ziploc bags, etc, etc, with the best of intentions):

Lies, Damn Lies, and E-Mail

Recent research suggests that e-mail exchanges build trust more slowly than other forms of communication — but now a Cornell University study argues that the opposite should be true, because people are considerably more likely to lie over the phone and in faee-to-face conversation than in e-mail. For the survey a set of Cornell students kept a week-long communications diary in which they noted die number of conversations and electronic interactions they had, and then counted up the number of lies (defined as attempts to intentionally mislead) they told in each exchange. The results: they lied in only 14 percent of e-mail exchanges, compared with 21 percent of instant-message "conversations." 27 percent of face-to-face interactions, and 37 percent of phone conversations. (No word on the propensity to lie in communications diaries.) The study's authors speculate that people lie more often when they are communicating synchronously — as in face-to-face, instant-message, and telephone chats — because most lies "emerge spontaneously from conversation." The authors also suggest that untruths are rarer when people know that an easily accessible record of their falsehoods exists. It's worth noting, however, that the more the study's subjects used e-mail the likelier they were to lie while doing so — suggesting that familiarity with a technology may breed deception.

— "Deception and Design: The Impact of Communication Technology on Lying Behavior," Jeffrey T. Hancock, Jennifer Thom-Santelli, and Thompson Ritchie, Department of Communication, Cornell University

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Source: Atlantic Monthly, May2004, Vol. 293 Issue 4, p44, 1p
Item: 12760735

Zoe Nyssa

Posted by nyssa003 at 12:42 PM

November 24, 2004

Just a few thoughts on Creswell and writing a proposal

Pretty stressful, I would say. Reading Creswell made me anxious because of the clarity of procedure he described, and the difficulty to actually perform it. For example, an obvious distinction such as the one among the purpose, the problem, and the research questions suddenly becomes “threatening” when you realize that even something “so simple” can get mixed up in your head. Articulating clearly your intention and categorizing a bunch of interconnected ideas into proper boxes is not as easy as it seems to be. The examples Creswell provided are very useful, though maybe a bit tempting to step into a “cut and paste” trap.

Overall, really helpful in preparing to submit a proposal for a thesis grant (and scary again :).

Posted by anto0082 at 1:54 AM

November 18, 2004

Once more...

As I helplessly watch my "errors" post on the blog site (I hit the 'return' key to position my name under the title...why the did it then post?!?), I am reminded of just how new a communication tool this medium is. While those who are already quite savvy in their use of computer-mediated communication might argue that the word 'new' no longer applies, others (myself included) are still acclimating to both the possibilities and restrictions of these tools. The unprecedented ways inwhich we now exchange information and make connections can be challenging to more traditional approaches to communication. The formal rules of written texts are transforming to less structured conversational texts, the concept of ethos is being challenged by anonymity and lack of physical presence, the nuanced meaning from non-verbal cues is no longer an element of our dialogues (for the time being, at least), and on and on. These shifts have led me to re-evaluate my ingrained approaches to communication. This raises the question: Is a new way of communicating evolving as we adapt to this new medium? And, to address Anna Martinsons' question about whether or not research methods change when we take them on-line, should we be developing new methodologies for examining this paradigm?

Posted by coggi007 at 11:31 AM

Thoughts on week...I've lost count!

Posted by coggi007 at 9:34 AM

Thoughts on week...I've lost count!

Posted by coggi007 at 9:34 AM

November 17, 2004

Feminism and the Internet

Gender and the Internet. More specific, women and the Internet. Even more specific, feminism and the Internet. Being born in 1979, I will probably never see the rise of a more significant medium than the Internet. Being a man, I am asked to consider the impact of gender, women, and feminism on this medium. I have a difficult time being indifferent.

What strikes me are the hopes and disillusionment. Like the settlement of the West to the suburbs (I’m reading Erma Bombeck’s hilarious The Grass is Always Greener Over the Septic Tank), optimism guides our explorations. Disillusionment quickly follows. To the extent the Internet has been a frontier, the pattern has been followed.

In this case, what strikes me is the disappointment of the early feminist “explorers” of the Internet. The belief that the Internet could “level the playing field” was the cherished promise of the Internet. Now we are left with “the younger, less highly-educated women who use the Internet today (in contrast to the more highly-educated early adopters) may fail to perceive gender disparity in online social and commercial arrangements” (Herring). It sounds like the classic case of the idealized elitist dream crumbling.

What’s going on? The answer can not escape Herring’s question statement: “The answer depends in part, of course, on how one defines ‘equality’.” Equality always has and always will be a bitter question for the academic and to a lesser extent the broader society. I honestly have no clue what it would mean for me to be on par with “man.” Yes, I played football, am an excellent shot with a rifle, some would consider me to be a bit forthright, and I could go on. If this is a “man,” I laugh. How do you define “equality” in relation to this stereotype?

I recognize that gender constructs exist and serve a role. As an infantry soldier, I hope I never here my wife yell “Bright red blood makes the grass grow green!” no matter how poetic it may sound. Academic “equality” is a narrow concept. Men pay a price for aggression—jail time, deaths in combat, physical injuries, “attention deficit disorder” and more. Yes, a sense of dominance comes with being “aggressive” but a toll comes as well. How this “averages out” in the gender equality debate—I have no idea.

How does this play out on the Internet? I consider this a secondary question. The primary question is and will remain for the near-term, how are men and women, boys and girls doing compared to each other? Forget medium, watch the trends, I expect by the time I’m on my deathbed, I will see women being more influential than men within the United States.

The Internet is a medium. The Internet despite its early acclaim is probably no better equipped to address gender issues than any other medium. If anything, I expect the legacy of the Internet to be in consolidating our sense of space (not gender).

What then is the difference between past and present? Aggression is taboo and technology is becoming mainstream. The educational opportunities for women are expanding (relative to men). For my 87 year old Grandma to earn a college degree while my Grandpa did not was exceptional, today for a woman to do the same is ordinary. For my Mom to earn a college degree while my Dad did not was against the odds, today the odds are a wash.

While the temptation of every researcher is to hit the “jackpot,” the articulation of the Internet as a medium and women’s increasing stature as being a gradual rise is probably the best way of understanding the relation of gender, women, and feminism to the Internet. The Internet as medium is the salvation for few but the determined work of generations of women (and some men) is of much greater reason for celebration. Let us not lose track of this as we move forward in our digitized medium.

oh, and for my favorite feminist song about the Internet, the lyrics from Le Tigre's "Get Off the Internet"...

It feels so 80's
Or early 90's
to be political
where are my friends?

Get off the internet!
(I'll meet you in the street)
Get off the internet!
(destroy the right wing)

This is repetitive
But nothing has changed
Am I crazy?
Where are my friends?

time for me to get off the Internet...


Posted by tayl0464 at 10:20 PM

November 13, 2004

Mike's Week 10 Posting

Some thoughts/reflections/questions on Foss and Brock

Foss defines rhetoric as the “action humans perform when they use symbols for the purpose of communicating with one another.” Foss goes on to say that communication by and between animals is not considered rhetoric. If the purpose in limiting rhetoric to that which occurs among humans is simply to limit and define the domain of rhetoric for the purpose of its study, this distinction makes sense. The study of rhetoric is the study of human usage. However, if such a distinction is made to deny the possibility that animals do or could use symbolic communication of any sort, to me this seems unnecessarily limiting, even restrictive to what could be potentially fascinating realms of rhetorical research, such as the rhetoric of interspecies communication – although, current humanistic paradigms may not be quite ready to bring such ideas into the discussion.

Foss does admit that the issue of whether or not only humans use symbols is unresolved. Although, based on what I know about animal behavior, if rhetoric is defined as loosely as Foss defines, minus the word ‘human’ – the action performed using symbols for the purpose of communication – there is a decent case to be made that animals do practice rhetoric, and, at minimum, a quite strong case to be made that animals understand rhetoric. For example, birds use particular calls (symbols) to communicate particular information, such as danger or the location of a food source. Dogs, when they want to go outside and play, might bring a ball to a person to communicate this desire. Bees, when they want to communicate to a hive the location of a food source, exhibit a fascinating dance-like behavior which is able to communicate to the rest of the hive the approximate distance and direction of the food source from the hive. Foss even cites the example of primates being taught sign language. To me, all of these examples fit into Foss’s definition of rhetoric once the word ‘humans’ is removed, which suggests that animals do use rhetoric.

Furthermore, even if one is to deny the possibility that animals use rhetoric, evidence suggests that some animals do understand the rhetoric of humans. For example, if a dog owner says ‘ball’ (a symbol word) to a dog, the dog will go and retrieve the ball – this occurs even to the point of specifying a particular ball, and a dog will know which ball to go get. A recent study supported this in which a dog was made to associate a word with a particular item, the item would then be hid in another room amongst a clutter of similar objects, and the dog would be told to retrieve the item referred to by the word. I don’t remember the exact statistic, but I think it was 80-90% of the time, the dog only returned with the item specified.

Maybe this all just demonstrates that Foss’s definition of rhetoric is too broad. Regardless, I just thought the notion of whether animals use rhetoric or nor was an interesting idea to ponder.

While reading Brock, I found myself wondering about what is actually being discussed within a rhetorical analysis. Brock explains that a critic endows their object of study with meaning, from amongst many possible meanings, based on the critic’s own understandings, experiences, views of the world. This meaning is then interpreted by an audience, however the audience also has their own unique perspectives, histories, understandings that influence their reception of the critic’s meaning. A strict reading of this would suggest that through rhetorical analysis, it’s not possible to lock on any particular describable or shared meaning that could be documented or would remain to any degree constant (This either does not seem to be the case in reality, or the ambiguity is so accepted into any particular description of meaning that the inexactitude becomes the constant.). Even still, by the time a description of meaning has been processed through the audience’s perspective, it is twice filtered and twice removed from the actual object of study. So, at this point, is the discussion about a rhetorical analysis of an object, or has the object simply become an instigation of discussion about ideas inspired by the object?

Posted by bank0019 at 5:46 PM

November 10, 2004

Political Stats

Before class started several of us were talking about exit polls and accuracy (statistically!). I mentioned I had a "local" site, one of our very own, that I had found interesting. Here is the link and just dig around.


Posted by habe0076 at 7:58 AM

November 9, 2004

Collaboration, IP, and emerging technologies

I have a real interest in either Internet technologies (including IP, copyright, collaboration, and social interaction) as well as rhetoric of science stuff, as long as it's in the emerging technology area (such as genetic technologies, AIDS research, etc.) I'm studying collaboratories for my thesis, so that would be an interesting topic, if you'd be interested. Also have an interest in eugenics, and public sphere participation.

Posted by tsch0070 at 2:06 PM

November 5, 2004

Brenda's posting

As you may have gathered from some of the questions I’ve been asking in class, I’m a bit hung up on process. (“You mean you can proceed with your research, even if you haven’t nailed your research questions yet?”) I blame my recent background in medical research, where so much tends to be quantified (even the social aspects of a study) and believed to be, if not completely unbiased, at least objective and above reproach in terms of validity and reliability.

I think this is why it’s difficult for me to truly accept that valid and reliable research can come out of purely qualitative research. Case studies and ethnographies, for example, seem too close to journalism to be considered “scientific.” Yet, for my own research, I seem to want both worlds—the “clear-cut” investigations of an experimental study and the narrative description of qualitative work. Throughout the semester, I’ve been wondering: Is this possible to achieve, or should I just pick an epistemology and stick with it?

Getting back to my need for process, I’m wondering if I were more knowledgeable about the various tactics a qualitative researcher uses to ensure validity and to justify the choices one makes (particularly in data analysis), whether that would put my mind more at ease. For instance, in Prof. Duin’s case study research, I would be interested to know how she was able to categorize (prioritize, even), the necessary elements for successful partnerships. I realize she based some of her research on others’ work, such as Maynard Robinson, Stephen Dagle, and Stephen Dent, so perhaps some of the categorization came from that work. But then she also states that, for the LAAP case studies, they decided to “simply tell the stories, allowing others to learn how to better partner—from the experiences and suggestions of others.” Was this decision made because case studies don’t allow for such analysis or generalization? Is this a classic instance of qualitative limitation?

Finally, is my research dilemma merely methodological or, more worrisome, an epistemological one?

Posted by bhudson at 2:44 PM

November 3, 2004

Jenifer's Nov. 2 questions and comments

Going into yesterday's class my questions were: What differentiate's case studies from other forms of qualitative research? And how does one perform a case study? How does a researcher decide whether or not to use the real names of their web sources?

Since I am doing my thesis research on websites I'm wrestling with the issue of naming my sources. I looked at narratives posted on personal websites that are publicly available via webrings. All the sites were created by individuals with a chronic illness, which would likely make this a vulnerable population. However, I've been treating their narratives as published texts. None of the narratives could be considered a conversation beyond the concept of any disability narrative adding to the "conversation" about chronic illness and disability.

Many of the sites acknowledge the possibility for a wide audience--but did the authors anticipate a researcher as part of that audience? Probably not. So in that case, I feel like I should give them pseudonyms (even beyond the screen names that many already use). However, because I'm treating these sites as copyrighted texts for public consumption, I feel like using their real screen names (in some cases this is their actual name) instead of pseudonyms. If it is a copyrighted text, then is there any reason to use a pseudonym? And if I do use a pseudonym in the text of my thesis, how do I cite the websites in my references?

Posted by north015 at 1:50 PM

Paula's Week 9 (Nov. 2) Thoughts

Yesterday's class was completely different from what I thought it would be, but I have to say I learned a lot, though not necessarily about how to conduct a case study.

I enjoyed Dr. Hill-Duin's presentation because I'm currently involved in a partnership that, given Dr. Hill-Duin's lecture, is most likely doomed to fail. Basically, the Wisconsin Technical College System and the UW-System have decided that in the interest of offering anytime-anywhere education, tech schools and universities should offer classes that transfer between the two systems. The administrators in the WTCS system and UW system think this is a great idea, as do the instructors at the tech school. However, the university instructors, myself included, generally feel that this is an inherently bad idea--that the missions of the two systems are so different and courses so tailored to students' needs at each institution that letting tech school students transfer credits to the UW system essentially "waters down" our curriculum.

I do realize that factors such as "ego" are definitely involved, but (and I won't go into all of the details) egos aside, the planning and administration thus far have pretty much gone counter to all that Dr. Hill-Duin discussed last night. Consequently, I found her presentation incredibly enlightning at least on a personal level.

That said, I do wish more had been said specificially about the tie in of her involvement and the use of case study methodology as a process rather than a discussion of case study attributes that her project(s) involve. This is, however, a rather small issue, as we will be continuing our discussion of case study next week anyway; furthermore, I found her presentation so useful on a personal level, that it seems almost strange that she would be talking about partnering during the very week that I have a meeting to discuss our less-than-functional partnership here. Regardless, I guess my discussion question for this week is about case study as a methodology. We talked about this some last night, but I would still like to hear more from people on how they parse the concepts of "case study" v. "ethnography" v. "phenomenological research" v. "narrative research," v. "grounded theory" that we discussed at the beginning of the course in Cresswell, p. 14-15.

Posted by lent0064 at 10:56 AM

November 1, 2004

Dr. L'Eplattenier & Historical Research

As you may know from the flyers around the department, Dr. Barbara L'Eplattenier will be visiting us this Friday, Nov. 5. (She's from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, and is my former professor.) One of the talks she'll be giving is relevant to material we've covered in this class, so I thought I'd mention it here.
Her session on "Conducting Archival Research on the Internet" will be at 4:15 in Magrath 6, with dinner to follow at the former Ciatti's (now called the Chianti Grill.) Anyone who can't make it to the talk but is interested in discussing archival research is also welcome to join us for lunch that day. Just drop me an email and I'll let you know as soon as we settle on where that will be.
You may also be interested in her other session, which will be an informal discussion on "Career Possibilities in Writing Program Administration." That one will take place in COB 137 at 2:45.

Posted by kenne329 at 8:08 PM

But is it Ethnographic?

When we broke for discussion this week the group I was in talked a lot about the definition of ethnography. I think I tend to define ethnography by its tool: the field note. The presence or absence of field notes really clinches the question for me if a researcher is doing fieldwork or something else. However, I think my implicit, hazy definition is flawed: what is the difference between an ethnographer, journalist, fiction or creative nonfiction writer taking notes for themselves in the field for the purpose of writing them up later?

The intent of all three is to represent the situation with some accuracy (without making any claims to objective and total representation) and to do so in a way that’s appropriate and relevant to their audiences. In other words, we end up defining "true" or "research" ethnography by the genre in which the notes are written up: the journal article vs. the NY Times article. Personally, I would like my research to be deemed research not because the type of publication it appears in: when I was doing astronomical research with my team, it was still research, whether a report of it appeared in a peer-reviewed journal or The Globe and Mail science section.

Then again, I don’t think the definition of ethnography has anything to do with how long or how deeply a researcher is immersed in the field. In conducting research for his latest novel, Tom Wolfe spent months wandering unchaperoned around various American university campuses writing down his observations of the students. Instead of defining ethnographic writing generically by audience (professional audiences vs. lay audiences), perhaps we should define it by the degree to which the author “follows the actor” when writing up his or her notes? Then what do we do then about Denzin and Lincoln's brand of performance art as research? Can we say that the researcher writing up his or her experience in the form of an allegorical play is doing something other than making art?

Clearly, a Tom Wolfe novel is not an example of ethnographic writing. My question is: were his field notes?


Posted by nyssa003 at 10:47 AM