Week 3 Blog: Social Research with New Media Technologies

Survey

This article by Murthy (2008) focuses on ethnography and the reluctance of academics to utilise the internet and technological methods of research to gather information and data for analysis.  I agree with Murthy’s conclusion that a combination of digital research methods and traditional, physical ethnography is necessary to achieve a balanced, comprehensive study.

Murthy’s article links with the Warschauer and Grimes (2007) article as it explores how the affordances of Web 2.0, specifically online questionnaires, digital video, social networking sites and blogs, provide amazing potential for ethnographers.  Murthy indicates that offline questionnaires were an ‘extremely costly and labour intensive affair’ (2008, pg 842); however, Web 2.0 allows researchers to easily construct polls and analyse associated data, and users to complete these polls without difficulty. Social networking websites give researchers greater access to suitable respondents and the ability to ‘invisibly observe the social interactions of page members’ (Murthy 2008, pg 845).  Blogs provide a platform for researchers and respondents to engage in communication, and digital video allows researchers to gather video data and to upload and embed videos into their blogs.

The potential that these technologies provide social researchers is great; however, I agree with Murthy that they should be used with caution.  Ethical issues such as lurking (2008, pg 840) and the use of the words of Internet users without their permission (2008, pg 845) must be addressed. In addition, the Internet does not represent an accurate stratification of society – a divide exists due to differences in internet accessibility, disabilities, language barriers and age (2008, pg 848).  This further strengthens the notion that digital and physical ethnography used simultaneously would result in more meaningful social research.

– Katie Challita 3663620

References:

Murthy, Dhiraj 2008, ‘Digital Ethnography: An Examination of the Use of New Technologies for Social Research’, Sociology, vol 42, no 5, pp.837-855.

Warschauer, Mark and Grimes, Douglas (2007) ‘Audience, Authorship and Artefact: The Emergent Semiotics of Web 2.0,’ Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol 27, pp. 1-23)

Imaged sourced from http://www.axiom-mr.com/online-surveys/

Week 2 Blog: A Generational Change – Communicating with Web 2.0

Social Networking

Web 2.0 has introduced new concepts of audience, authorship and artefact, characterised by heightened levels of participation, collaboration and accessibility to publishing functions. This week’s article by Warschauer and Grimes (2007) analyses this transformation, focusing on blogs, wikis and social networking sites in order to demonstrate how our understanding of the Web has been altered.

I found the focus on social networking sites interesting, including how the Web has transformed from an individual publishing focus with limited sharing and collaboration, to a massive web of communication, information, resources and, most importantly, people. This suggests that the new generation of the Web is ‘no longer about the technologies per se but about the communities that have grown up around them’ (Jenkins 2007).

The major changes include the ease of usage and participation and the ‘semiotics of ranking and tagging mechanisms’ (Warschauer et al 2007, pg 14). Web 2.0 enables users to easily engage in social interaction with each other. Sites such as YouTube, FanFiction.net and Flickr allow users to easily upload and share content. Harnessing the functions of ranking of tagging, these sites can statistically analyse ranked data, affecting the content which is displayed on the site. This is, in part, what the article means when it refers to ‘emergent semiotics’ – the meaning of the website is influenced by filtering and the input of the community.

Such a networked Web has positive implications for education. If harnessed correctly, we can create a knowledge community because ‘What we cannot know or do on our own, we may now be able to do collectively.’ (Jenkins 2006, pg 27)

– Katie Challita 3663620

References:

Warschauer, Mark and Grimes, Douglas (2007) ‘Audience, Authorship and Artefact: The Emergent Semiotics of Web 2.0,’ Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, vol 27, pp. 1-23)

Jenkins, Henry  (2007) ‘From YouTube to YouNiversity.’ The Chronicle of Higher Education 53.24 (2007). Academic OneFile. Web. 6 Aug. 2010.

Jenkins, Henry (2006) ‘Convergence culture: where old and new media collide’, NYU Press, accessed 5/8/2010 via Google Books

Image sourced from http://www.smallbusinessbranding.com/1178/how-to-mine-social-conversations/