October 26, 2004

Slide show

David put together a slide show from the conference...take a look:
http://www.ofoto.com/I.jsp?c=i4e7p3u.dc967d6&x=0&y=-whccj2

Posted by npaul at 9:25 AM

October 7, 2004

NCRM Grant

We were going to try and go after the National Center for Research Methods grant (which had a deadline of Oct. 8) but wise counsel suggested we didn't really have time to pull together legitimate costs. But any leads or suggestions on where funding might be sought to hold the next NRNM will certainly be appreciated.

Posted by npaul at 9:37 AM

October 6, 2004

Powerpoint Slides Available

We have posted the powerpoint slides from the NRNM presentations on the website. Check it out at: http://www.inms.umn.edu/convenings/newresearch_2004/papers.htm The same papers' slides are on the "Schedule" page as are Nicholas Jankowski's keynote slides - http://www.inms.umn.edu/convenings/newresearch_2004/schedule.htm

Posted by npaul at 5:00 PM

October 5, 2004

Focus Group Feedback


FOCUS GROUP FEEDBACK

New Tools / New Skills:
Build a NRNM research-researcher-portal:
• a consultation network to guide researchers as to how to use what tools when asking which questions,
• informing researchers about what tools are available
• reports on the use of tools in various contexts and applications, i.e.Qualrus
• enable qualitative research to be more transparent and repeatable
• library of alternative forms of research artifacts
We need more emphasis on the production process and not just reception, including professional studies across disciplines and professional areas.
Broader sense of the user and including users in design and development of research methods and tools
More attention to the visual aspects of new media: design, aesthetics, interactivity
Consideration of the double identity of new media as TOOLS and CONTENT, how does the tool impact the creation of new content.

Preservation:
Susan´s Grand Scheme
1) Back-up strategy is already available now -- possible to backup data on servers provided by Universities
2) Historical archives of Internet sites that already exist
-- Way Back Machine with content from 1996 -- imperfect now
-- Project in Sweden called Culture Archive
-- Similar project in France with the Bibliotheque Nationale
-- Also available in Spain -- Basque materials -- this collection has already been migrated to a newer form once (needed to migrate from OS2 to Windows XP) still relies on private funds
3) What forms of digital documents have been best preserved so far? Plain ASCII text has preserved very well. Have a common format, convert documents into that format, 4) Ideal would be to have an automatic way to capture digital documents and convert them into this imaginary format without human intervention
-- There are three parts to a preservation strategy
a) Individual researchers have a responsibility for their own research data and output
b) Publishers who hold copyright for published materials -- journals, books, etc.
c) Libraries, historical associations, governments, businesses that collect materials
Summary -- Key points
 Common formats, updating, redundancy of copies, single format vs. multiple formats, single archive vs. multiple formats, who is responsible for archiving and updating (individuals, publishers, libraries),
 How to access archives, technical issues, social issues, archival policies for university personnel (when you retire, what does your university archive want from you? Will you have it? Will they keep it?)
 Next steps:
o Scholars, associations, publishers, back up their own data and migrate it.
o Publishers can take on new role of creating and migrating content
o Develop new technologies to format consistently and control file sizes
o Encourage the development of individual archives and collections with a central storage component
o Important role for disciplinary associations to play in preserving their discipline’s data -- contract with publishers to take on that service role?
o Role for government to set standards and archive important social documents
o Libraries (funded by universities) have to have funding strategy and archiving strategy that protects scholars´ interests
o Journal editors have the responsibility to update the articles that cite URLs and keep them updated regarding dead links, etc.??? Who would ever serve as editor again? Susan planning open forum among journal editors on the issue of dead links.

Collaboration:
o Networks are extremely important: six degrees of separation (maybe less).
o Collaboration exists within a school, university, country, institutions; international, regional.
o There should be key people in different places whom you can approach.
o The researcher needs a theoretical rationale for, say, choosing specific countries for research = collaboration.
o We also need interdisciplinary collaboration because we have different views, perspectives and backgrounds.
o Also need for multidisciplinary networks •
HYPOTHETICAL RESEARCH PROJECTS:
o Evolution of social networks in online educational environment
o Challenges of multi-disciplinary teams
o Cross-national comparison of mobile phone use
o Cross-national comparison of mobile phone ringing tones
o Developing the children on-line learning project in some other countries

NRNM 2004 and Beyond:
-- There was consensus at our table that it would be a good idea to present longer, 15- to 20-page papers (still with a focus on methodology) of a length that presenters could then send off for possible publication.
Three ideas for publication were suggested.
1. People send off their papers (this year, they would have to make them longer) to journals of their choice.
2. Brian S. suggested journal editors be contacted now to see if they could be persuaded to do special issues. David pointed out that we’d have to do that for the conference three years from now, given journal lag times.
3. There was a suggestion that Minnesota take on publishing proceedings, but Al pointed out that the quality of presentations would have to be higher.
4. Another option discussed would be, a few years from now, going to a publisher with completed high-quality, conference-length papers and proposing a series.
-- We would like to find a way to give poster session presenters an opportunity for feedback. A few people suggested that they should do actual posters, but it seemed that the consensus was there would be too few people viewing the posters to do that. Better to just find a way to give them feedback.
-- Al suggested some attendees be assigned to write overviews of particular methodologies, much like Susan Herring gave for content analysis or like Martyn Denscombe did in his paper on ethics. Others thought that would take too much time or be unnecessary.
-- Most people appeared to be interested in retaining the group discussions, a unique feature of this conference. A few people thought, though, that the number might be reduced. Several people thought perhaps the presentation of the comments typed into Zoomerang could be forgone. Perhaps there could be a compilation of them given out rather than having the comments presented, because of the time it takes.
-- It was suggested that methods be mentioned by name in the call for papers. But people seemed to think it was vital to let things emerge, not to say that people have to enter their papers in a particular division, like ethnography. Call should be more explicit. If we want new tools, methods, etc., we need to say so.
-- Does there need to be more conference-planning help for Nora to move this into the next level? Perhaps a conference planning committee?
-- Should this conference focus on a theme that is hot, current in new media research? There seemed to be some support for that, which would tend to keep the attendance fluid (more different people participating over the years). But there was serious concern that that would be too limiting, that there wouldn´t be the opportunity to learn about other methods you don’t work in or have serendipitous encounters.
-- Bruce suggested the planning committee look over a five-year plan for the conference.
-- Site suggestions included one year U.S., one year Europe or one year developed country, one year developing country.
-- Time: Some people thought it was a little close to the begining of the semester, but others said there would always be conflicts in time.
-- Suggestion: Provide extra time for presentations for non-native English speakers.


Research Methods Education:
-- Marketing and packaging to students important. The walls between Qualitative and Quantitative are helpful, we don’t need to tear them down, it helps students to debate both. A facility with both is required to triangulate methods. The issue is what is the question and what are, therefore, the best methods.
-- Find the most interesting case studies to illustrate the methods (in a reader). The students must also acknowledge who they are, what they are comfortable with, perhaps an interview method would be avoided by a shy student?
-- Do not put method before the question.
-- Collaboration is crucial as researchers/ students may not have skill base required for all the methodology required, eg qualitative & quantitative, contextual and qualitative data seems to be the norm in this forum but not in the business sector.
-- Most issues are to do with sampling.
-- Deconstruction of myths / hype regarding the internet should be included in teaching, speaks back to basics.
-- It would be helpful to deliver methodology teaching alongside contextual theory.
-- We need to acknowledge access for students who do NOT have access to internet.
-- Ethics: accountability for data and analysis, representation and reflexivity need to be communicated to students.

Posted by npaul at 4:39 PM

Quantitative Methods

These are the small group discussion notes for the QUANTITATIVE METHODS PANEL

Table A:
• People say what they think a researcher wants them to say.... perceptions can be different than behavior. It is important to perform several types of research.
• Both papers used a combination of studies of perceptions and behavior in quantitative ways.
• The user control-perception study was experimental.. In an experiment, the researcher has control over everything, and the methodologies are probably clear at the start. This might not be the case outside of experimental research. It seems here that the subject reporting of perceptions is more accurate than it was in the cell phone research. What are some of the reasons for this?
• Design could also be a factor for this type of experimental research.
• People with experience have a better intuitive sense of how things work. The inexperienced user may not know what to do.... this has an impact on design. How do you divide the two groups? What type of object could you present to them? People could have a perception of control, but does that mean they are able to master the technologies?
• Phone study... an example of behavior and what they say they do. So, again it’s important to do both types of methods. What do you do when they are contradictory? The cell phone studies... the real time data... the automated measures seem to be very valid, and tell the story in a very convincing manner. What was the use of the self reported uses?

Table B: • Anxiety - vcr metaphor, bring baggage to online contexts. How is a vcr interface in between? tv, vcr, vcr plus .what is more taxing?
• Unresolved questions - philosophical context. Brian is interested in the link to memory and retention & extension to online content. Brian talked of plans to look at science news project - large scale survey work. Interested in the overlay with qualitative methods to access some of the users´ perceptions to facilitate our wider understandings of user control. Is one variable the construction of the content? This taps into Brian’s interest in multi-level research.. This leads to challenges of exploring the relationship between user comprehension and the nature of their experience.
• The web diversifies user ‘reading’ experience.
• Some uncertainties about the application of such a multi-level model. The relationship between type´ of content, its construction and the individual is significant? Laboratory methods and environment are limited.
• Paper 1 - reminder of the range of information available from the diversity of new media. Do we take advantage of this wealth of data?
• Discussions about instant flow data collection. The subject of Akiba´s paper was fascinating - how do people respond under such conditions and the locality based issues. Method is innovative but what is its potential and its application to other technologies, eg. vehicle tracking devices. He had privileged access to normally ‘hidden’ data. How can those without baby-sitting connections access corporate information vaults.
• Some services better at using their data analytically than others (eg. Amazon.) Building on existing credibility helps and businesses need to see benefit for themselves. Many companies don´t want their data to be public. Are there business sector differences in willingness to share data?

Table C:
• Southwell paper: Alternative methods (brain activity sensing of control perception). Wiring people up - how scary can it be? Can people recall their own experiences? Are people self - aware?
• Psychology/ Management studies: Why do people think that (psychology) students are representative for the human race? Use talk aloud method to complement it? or interview on the basis of a videotaping of the activity(so why did you really do this?)
• Are all people good judges of their own behaviour? - examples of scientists not being aware of using email behaviour
• Cohen paper: segmentation of geographical areas was a good idea/ how did it come out? Company didn´t really get much out of it. Info gods out of control room. First study was more informative for them. Using Mobile from home is a trend in other countries as well.
• Companies giving access to scientists through connections - small countries are a good example - Should we start doing some baby sitting? Good news for Mobile companies - are we rejecting fixed line?

Table D
• Access is clearly a function of relationship and opportunity
• There was an expressed lack of trust in numerical data, does it require a FAITH statement?
• The combination of approaches seems to be a primary explanation of the positive responses in the unpresented paper. The combined approach brings the possibility of making online, email or web, work better. Is this truly positive for online or for integrated approaches?
• Need to be sure to have a function-purpose for the respondents in this type of experiment
• Levels of incentive might change the outcome as higher stakes mean different needs and desires
• How important are the alternatives in control to the task of the user and their level of comfort or their perceived usefulness or their use of the technology or their enjoyment
• As the technologies and studies become more complex how can we account or allow for emergent rather than specified uses?

Table E:
• Sophisticated data gathering requires the collaboration of the companies: can this limit or bias researcher's work?
• Access to technology is key to raw data analysis. If you don't have the tech, you can't do nothing!
• Comparing raw data and personal explanations (interviews, journals) can add an interesting research question: why don't they do the same as they say they do? The answer would be in self-perceptions. You may focus interviews on attitudes if you have the raw data (e.g. number of calls). It's worthy to be transparent towards subjects (if you are interviewing people after retrieving real time data about them, show them the data). Lab experiments take too little a part of the real situation. I may be taking you to misleading results, out of context. Lab products should resemble real situations as closely as possible.
• We do not see comparability among TV and multimedia products in Southwell's research. It is more than a matter of user control, they are different media. Why not have 3 levels of control in multimedia products? Where users overwhelmed or just lacking experience?

Table F:
1. Issues and questions about nonlinear relationships are important.
2. Do researchers devote enough attention to the assumptions of the paradigms employed?
3. Wonder if Southwell, et al. study was a realistic operationalization of user control as experienced on the web? Wonder about the relationship of the finding to the linear narratives of typical video documentaries.
4. User experiences with linear media formats raise important questions about reactions to user control, user satisfaction with choice controls.
5. Cohen study is important new work -- explorations of the relationship between actual and perceived uses and utility need to continue.

Posted by npaul at 4:33 PM

Ethics and Research Quality

This is the small group discussion notes for the
ETHICS AND RESEARCH QUALITY SESSION

Table A:
MULTIMETHOD
1. Maybe the benefit of a multi-method approach is that it can help integrate even incongruent results in a broader, more comprehensive explanation
2. Also, if different methods lead to measurements of different variables (e.g. perception-related vs. behavior related), incongruent results can reflect natural discrepancies between perception and behavior
ETHICS
1. Should researchers post information about ongoing projects on their websites (e.g. contamination vs diffusion of knowledge in the academic community).
2. Risks of contamination derived from respondents´/subjects’ access to other info about researcher - e.g. CV, credentials.
3. Ethical issues related to protection of special categories of research subjects (12-18 years old) across cultures - strictly normative or less regulated?
4. Informed consent: can one establish real demographics of internet users just by virtue of venue, or self-reported identity
5. Privacy protection: should researchers’ concerns be so great as long as cited quotes come from public websites?
6. Lurking and gender differences in expressing willingness to express one’s opinions in public web environments such as weblists

Table B:
-- A general discussion emerged about the ethical dimensions of surveying online material without the research object’s consent. Some research institutions provide ethical guidelines that the researchers are obliged to deploy. However, occasionally research situations occur for which these don't apply. This is especially the case when revealing the research activity would make objective results impossible.
-- The need for a general framework exists. The stoutest limitations are defined by the EU-legislation.
-- Paper of E. Vasileiadou: Methodological issues: Can one sum up the preliminary results in the middle of a project for review by the survey participant without this not affecting the behaviour? Methodological concerns about comparing results of parallel research and comparing the importance of different messages from different researchers.
-- Paper of S. Antonijevic: The group was impressed by Antonijevic' being able to have earned the trust of the research objects. An issue raised in the discussion was the usage of as accurate language as possible: Within the politically sensitive line of topics, failures in this are likely to lead to misunderstandings.

Table C:
-- Do ethics have different ´levels´ depending on the group? As researchers, being aware of all the different research ¨objects¨ (children vs parents) spectrum: from moral to utilitarian, a legal description might be necessary, but will it be enough?
-- Hacking is not a crime (e.g. in brazil) or illegal (other countries); how to protect your sources?
-- How do you get your data: examples on observation AND participation.
Take account of cultural context, not possible on the web? Some information comes out only after participation of another group member -not the researcher! You can get more information than wished, being human -as researcher- might be a risky business.
-- New ethics?: the barrier between personal and private vanishes (home pages)

Table D:
-- What happens when the authorities ask you who or what or where about perceived combatants, criminals or others, particularly in environments where the rule of law may be stretched or non-existent?
-- Do IRBs suppress the opportunity for innovative research in their own lack of knowledge of the demands for speed or margins in reactive and proactive forms of research?
-- The internet can make it easy to be unethical or to engage in seemingly doubtable behavior -- in choosing a data set to accept and a data set to reject what is the relationship of ethics to theory or ethics to the desire to publish positive results or ethics to support research expectations?
-- The debate between responsive and behavioral methods and the validity of acquired data goes on.
-- Advice: find the best story within the data and be honest, accurate and fair to that data and your audience and you will be well on the way to ethical behavior.

(no Table E)

Table F:
• Devil’s advocate statement: The Internet is a public space and anyone using it is therefore consenting to their interactions being used for research purposes
• (This in the context of the extent to which e-interaction is the subject of public scrutiny and private record.)
• Issues of consent concerning research with children as subjects - variations between countries, states within countries, even perhaps between topics of enquiry. (The lawyers always win!)
• Ethical responsibility of the researcher (not ethics boards/committees) to ensure that the picture painted by the research is reasonably faithful. (Eg that the results relating to a chatroom full of children is in fact the result of interactions among children, not, say, 98% adults. This has a bearing on multimethod approaches and triangulation.
• Molecular approaches to human research (Fred!) - how does the deterministic philosophy of this paradigm affects the way in which such research is interpreted and used?

Posted by npaul at 4:30 PM

Historical Research

These are the small group discussion notes for the
HISTORICAL RESEARCH SESSION

Table A:
- It´s still possible to trace the complete history of blogs! They are traceable back to 17th century pamphlets. So not everything on the Internet is new!
- Historical study of the Internet is not necessarily comparable with other technologies, and is also highly dependent on country - for example, how would the uptake of radio in the US compare with its uptake in (say) China?
- It would be interesting to compare Internet uptake with the uptake of mobile phone technology and text messaging. (The death of the mobile phone industry was predicted (once the market was saturated and we all had a cellphone) but it hasn’t happened; people now upgrade regularly.
- To what extent is the development of all technology driven by the underlying business model? How does this affect or frame the historical study of it?
- Transcription of SMS messages onto paper is a phenomenon among Finnish girls
- The Internet is not a global medium - this is a myth. The existence of local languages on the Internet means that a search for information is not universal.
- There is some debate about whether the Internet is a global communication phenomenon. Would the existence of a global translation mechanism change this in any way?
- Do we have to archive everything? Surely the increasing quantities of digital information are not universally linked to quality. What has happened to the photographic slides that your parents took all those years ago? Is the world any worse off for the fact that they are now in a landfill site?! Haven’t we always gotten along fine without needing to save everything?
- The “Way Back Machine” is one important archive, and another in Sweden with the aim of archiving it every (six?) months.
- The growing dependence of academics on electronically published documents makes it imperative that a way of solving the archiving issue is found, since there will be no going back to paper.
- Data loss can be liberating! (cue anecdotes ...)

Table B:
- Create policies and practices between mentors and students which support the printing of sources and not depend on their continued existence in cyberspace
- Create centralized or decentralized storehouses of printed information whether government centered or publisher centered
- We need descriptive and ethnographic studies which explain in vivid detail the content and processes of this period in history
- What do we do for purely digital entities, interactive objects, locked sites-e.g., .asp,.swf
- Need to increase the cultures and networks of preservation and knowledge --- our own awareness is the first step in taking care for the future ---- perhaps there will be a new digital serendipity?
- Are we now confused by the ability to save massive amounts of data in a small space?

Table C:
- Who should decide what would be archived, Private sector ... the Internet archive project? Government?
- Archiving it is not enough... what do we need to do with changing media?
- Are we just applying old issues to new media? After all, web sources are dynamic by nature... Wikipidia.
- Between online and offline versions = when we study newspapers via Lexis Nexis, do we actually study the print version? Which versions should be archived? Which of the article versions, that can be changed every minute, should be archived?
- In the past only the rich and important people created data, so history is written based on the “rich and brave”. Today more people than ever are creating documents, but it is not in archives. Who does our history will look like?
- Should we go back to paper?

Table D:
- All data corrupts, and absolute data corrupts absolutely.
- Might not miss out on serendipity, because someone might find an old disk sometime and be able to read it.
- The inventors of the Internet didn’t take archiving into consideration... that doesn´t mean this can’t be changed.
- In the U.S., there is a National Archive... why can´t it also archive the Web, funded by taxes? Homeland Security Dept. archiving? Echelon System that monitors all communications? The good news is that data gets corrupted.
- Even Google can´t capture all of the Web pages.... similar situation with Brewster Kahle´s Way Back Machine, which has Web archives going back to about 1998. There are certain links and certain databases that spider technology is not able to follow.
- The only answer is constant vigilance, and migrating to new formats.
- Hacker mentality of information might work in favor of preservation of information. But there is no guarantee that information will remain on the Internet.
- Who decides what happens to what we publish?
- What about data for our research... aren’t we supposed to get rid of it after a year?
- What about information that you want to remove from the Web? What’s up with that? The good news is that data gets corrupted
- Hacking also can pose another danger for data.
- When citing Web sites in research articles.... should the researchers be required to send in a copy of the Web page to the journal publisher?

Table E:
- Times have never been better than today in terms of access to information, complete availability. The Internet is encouraging serendipity, absolutely. Distribution is not the problem, preservation is the problem.
- Citations: how could you manage to mention those materials that are not like e-books or e-journals with an ISSN or ISBN? If it is the reproduction of an original document, it is a different problem.
- Authorship and institutional affiliation. Authenticity is another important question.
- 3D and non-sequential material: trying to archive it in a different way is not always easy.
- Who will take on the task of organizing the archives and putting them together?
- A problem for libraries: publishers do not have the obligation of sending a hard copy of the digital material they put on the Net. Does the hard copy have more prestige than the digital file (you select, e.g., a photograph to be printed amongst all the pictures you take with a digital camera)?
- Internet and democracy, and freedom.

Table F:
Past (Patrice) vs. Future (Don)
• Can we learn from experience with other media?
• For how long do we need to preserve data?
• WE look at OUR data vs. OTHERS wanting to look at OUR data
• Idiosyncratic methods of data recording and storing -- how to cope with this?
• Remote storage systems and how to control and treat them?
• Our main concern is with researchers; but what about lay persons? Should they be worried about this too?
• What will be the social and political powers that will have access to the data and control it -- the gatekeeper question?

Posted by npaul at 4:26 PM

Content and Discource Analysis Session

Here are the small group discussion notes for the
CONTENT AND DISCOURSE ANALYSIS SESSION

Table A:
 Is everything content in the new media...or how do we define content? Is it the product of conscious creation? Of unconscious creation? Is a network content or context?
 The rules for turn taking and other aspects of discourse analysis could be useful for content analysis but there are differences as discourse analysis is more structural than content analysis.
 Need to have more consideration of the receiver in context when considering the meaning and importance of content in new media.
 Was the war coverage study a content analysis or a cultural analysis? Perhaps a comparison across time, Iraq 1 - Iraq 2, would have been more possible... perhaps the variations in media make the research more important but we need to find a way to deal with these differences and measure them.
 Time is an important part of communication as pauses are meaningful this could be important to conversational analysis.

Table B:
Qualitative vs quantitative models: have used quantitative as precursor to a qualitative study
- Coding online interactions of children
- Study of content should be connected with study of newsrooms / production, how do you compare new and old media - maybe qualitative studies comparing old media users with new media users would be useful. New media users can alter the content - they can change ¨prominence¨ - understanding the meaning of ¨make your own news¨ is important. New media used according to perceived expectations of how it is to be used
- Social interactions shaped by this, even speed of connection, changes the media product / nature of interaction and must account for technical issues altering content - content is dynamic.
- Content Analysis is useful but in general must account for reception factors and must look at production - can´t take content for granted - how do you contextualize the specific content you sample?

Table C:
Comments:
BW: In the problem of not being able to capture every image (in Susan Keith’s paper): you don’t really need to capture all images
AT: Sampling, but exchange is difficult to know when it happens, you can’t just take samples and assume they convey meaning. A fundamental problem is that sampling does not allow for ephemeral data and development of meaning.
BW: Still able to say something about how news is framed without having all of the images.
EG: Multiple editions have been with us for a long time, newspapers and tv. Then we had to make a selection for determining framing criteria. One old procedure was to take the final edition of a newspaper, this is not a new problem.
AT: Agrees re value of sampling of news products, but still holds that sampling of conversations is problematic. For example, if you are following a thread, you can begin with the point of entry and go to the end of thread, it is all interlocking conversation....recognizing this a serious problem, but not providing a solution.
KG: When they can´t follow the discourse on a list, the use of discourse analysis was not suitable as a method of study. Adaptation of qualitative content analysis. New point - reliability of age and gender, coming from third presentation. In a study of Singapore online and offline chat service, have much to learn from users...do they meet offline? People who use the medium are more sensible to some cues than others. Including users into research design is important in order to approach this issue of reliability. Have users as design participants...able to illuminate hidden communication. One method may help inform data from another method. Another problem is the overload of data...how to deal with this... how to select... selection technique has huge impact on outcome... We haven´t talked about the multimedia environment and how to integrate understanding of these sources. One possible approach would be to approach users and ask them how they íntegrate´ such multiple sources of data...

Table D:
Issue of the context of analysis, how in-depth should analysis go? Comparability between media (what is an image?). How to improve the method?

Table E:
Questions raised:
• How much data is enough (sampling)?
• Is content analysis suited to web content? Web material may or may not be appropriately conceptualized as a document.
• While the raising the bar of methodological rigor may be difficult, is, for the time being, methodological transparency sufficient?
• New methods?

Table F:
- Content analysis of conversational transcripts raises important ethical issues, such as those related to informed consent, age, and potential reaction (or lack thereof) to incidents discovered online
- Some questions raised: Can content analysis assess how people actually engage with web content? What are appropriate research questions for content analysis? Sheer volume of content on the web is revitalizing use of the method, but is it attached to theory? (See McMillan for discussion)
- Sampling: Need to focus on intention and purpose; uneven considerations thus far regarding how and why

Posted by npaul at 4:16 PM

Ethnographic Research

Here is the small group feedback notes for the
ETHNOGRAPHIC RESEARCH SESSION

Table A:
 The online world may under-emphasize offline interactions but if the totality of interactions are online, it is reasonable to assume that the meaning is embodied within the text.
 An issue is the anonymity of cyberspace – native perspective on history. May also enable the research subject to challenge the researcher.
 There is an Issue with obtaining informed consent in researching online communities.

Table B:
Issues include:
 Self selection of those youth who do not go on-line. (demographics?)
 Reflexivity and the persona of the on-line researcher.
 On-line ethnography is attractive to lazy researchers(?)
 As researchers, how do we manage reflexivity in cyberspace using on-line methods?.

Table C:
Questions and remarks
Lori Kendall’s paper: Talk aloud method has many potentials, but what about access and relations between interviewer and respondent (for example elderly interviewer and young respondent). Issue with having a small sample
Brian Wilson’s paper: Are the online and offline groups the same?
Edgardo Garcia's paper: Access to media abroad may be easier. Access is often often granted through relationships and the way you get access influences what kind of results you get.
In general all the papers/studies presented used traditional ethnographic, methods.

Table D:
 One concern with methods in which people talk about their new media use is whether they are accurate. Do they recall and interpret their media use as it was or as they believe it should have been. These papers present three very different uses of ethnography, a little difficult to bring them together. Are we researching technology in work-related ways (news media use, banking, etc.) when a younger generation is using new media for far less formal interactions that used to take place on street corners. It has supplanted other, earlier forms of interactions. Perhaps we are not yet aware of how things are being changed by new media, because they are changing us and there has not been enough change yet for us to measure it.
 Can we say that methods are adequate for studying new media when we don’t know what the effects of those new media are yet? One example: Older people are reconnecting with relatives as they research genealogy and other topics. This changes our sense of community.
 A circle: We study new media, sometimes using new media tools, as new media is changing us, the people who are studying it. Ethnography of new media may incorporate new tools but that doesn’t change the understanding of ethnography, which has always been rooted in the situation(s) under study.
Increasingly, new media is embedded in our offline lives. Still, there are instances of people adopting identities online that are very different from offline identities or engaging in online behaviors that would not be acceptable in their offline lives. Is there a lack now of work on how online lives affect offline lives?
 In architecture, there is a tendency to design for people who are spending more time at home, engaging in new media. Also, new media allows changes to be made in architectural plans more easily. Computers are changing our living spaces. Just as people moved their pianos out of the living rooms in the 1950s to make room for the television, people are now planning their home spaces around their computers and flat screens.

Table E:
 Some at the table were familiar, others were unfamiliar with ethnographic methods.
 One problem: Finding links between thick description and theory.
 Another problem: Length of time necessary to conduct the research is a challenge. Does this have a limiting effect on results? How long is a long enough time period for observation?
 A question: is participant observation equal to ethnography?
 Different cultures refer to a range of methods. Range of perspectives exists across countries.
 Why does appropriate definition of ethnography matter?
 Immersion as a key point of ethnography.
 One observation: Adoption of ethnographic methods in communication research arose as a response to quantitative research.
 Study of human psychology should be useful in understanding ethnographic measurement.

Table F:
Issues raised:
- reflections of previous ethnographic work/scholarship on traditional newsrooms
- producers´ ways of conceptualizing their activity (e.g. producing publications vs services) and newsroom organizational structure (e.g. type of hierarchical work relations) as factors impacting observation of online/offline newsrooms
- necessity for developing hybrid ethnographic methods to better inform researchers´ study of newsgroups
- how ethnographic research might contribute to the investigation of anthropomorphic agents (avatars) used on websites
- issues of racial, gender, language-features of the avatars, with regard to both creators and receivers
- role of ethics in ethnographic online newsgroups research

Posted by npaul at 4:09 PM