Technology and Culture

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Ethics and Internet Research: An Innovative Approach

One of the problems in conducting qualitative internet research is ethics: Are we studying texts or are we studying people? If it's the latter, how do you do your research in an ethical fashion? The Association of Internet Researchers has a lengthy treatise (beware, this is a big PDF), but I'm liking Arete's idea. She's doing a project on blogs as sites of healing, and as such, she wants to look at blogs whose authors have gone through traumatic personal experiences and blogged about them. She's asking for volunteers to let her use material on their blogs. It's, I think, a feminist way to go about a research design. I might use that later.

Computers and Composition Blog

The journal Computers and Composition now has a blog! They're even using Drupal, which is now in its third year. I don't intend for this post to be so cheerleader-y; I'm not simply saying, "They have a blog! Yay!" I'm serious here: If this blog is updated often, linked to, and posted to by all the other rhetoricians and compositionists who blog or have more static web sites, that might take us closer to a new model of scholarly publishing--a true knowledge community, without the considerable lag time involved in most scholarly publishing. Peer review will still take place, of course, but it won't be blind (we'll see more accountability, and the notion of ethos will become more significant, I think), it will be more interactive, and we'll see ideas as they form and are refined by communal criticism.

In addition...I can't be the only one who's amused by the irony that C&C is published by Elsevier, yet they went open-source for their blog. A harbinger if I ever saw one--but I don't want to jinx it. :-)

Paper Proposal for Great Plains Computers and Writing Conference

The weekend of April 23-25, there's going to be a joint conference of the Red River Conference on World Literature and the Great Plains Alliance for Computers and Writing. For the latter, I've decided to submit the paper I wrote for my genre theory class last semester. Here's the proposal I sent:

Making the Adjunct Visible: Normativity in Academia and Subversive Heteroglossia in the Invisible Adjunct Weblog Community

In recent years, weblogs have evolved from a form used mostly by web designers and computer programmers to a cultural phenomenon used and analyzed by journalists, popular culture scholars, and rhetoricians. In this paper, I use a Foucaultian and Bakhtinian framework to examine one academic weblog, Invisible Adjunct, which takes as its primary topic adjuncts and academic labor, vis-à-vis the discourse about adjuncts and academic labor in The Chronicle of Higher Education. The tone in the Chronicle essays tends to range from resigned to the current state of academic labor, to libertarian individualism (i.e., “you made this choice; you knew what you were getting into when you got a Ph.D.; this is what you get”), to “I'm an adjunct by choice, and I am fulfilled by it.” This discourse in the Chronicle is a genre that upholds the institutional status quo, with its emphasis on bootstrap rhetoric, adjunct “success” stories in the academy (e.g. adjunct as entrepreneur), and a lack of institutional critique or serious calls or plans for institutional reform. As a result, adjuncts are made to feel disenfranchised, personally responsible for why they occupy their rank in the hierarchy. To an extent, they start to identify with the discursive category “adjunct,” which suggests Foucault's normalization at work (Sawicki, 1991, p. 85). Invisible Adjunct shows what happens when the other talks back to the institution.

Highlights from My News Feeds

I love RSS, and I love Drupal for building a news aggregator into its blogging tool. Because of it, I'm able to find stuff like this: Napsterization via Siva, which I'll keep an eye on just because Mary Hodder's posting to it (IP types such as Logie might be interested in it too).

Anne says we should watch Mildred Pierce. I read an article about single mothers in cinema in Bitch once, and this movie was included. I wanted to watch it then, but now I definitely will after that persuasive review. I like reading movie reviews on blogs--Chuck writes them all the time, and Cindy has been known to do one or two.

MySpace and Other Social Networks

Hey, anyone out there on MySpace? My friends from home and I are pretty much addicted to it. It's interesting, all these new social networks--I'm on all the ones I've ever heard of--MySpace, Friendster, and Tribe.net. Each has different affordances; Friendster is the least impressive in this regard. On Tribe, you can post ads if you're looking for a job, selling your car, etc. which is nice, and Tribe allows users to form clusters based on a common interest or identifier, such as Adjunct Professors and Blog Research. MySpace combines blogging with the social network concept--you can keep a journal for your friends to see, send bulletins to all your friends, and make comments under their profiles. On Friendster, you can make profile comments too (they're called "testimonials"), but the user whose profile is being commented on has to approve the testimonial. This makes the process slower, less spontaneous. On MySpace, approval isn't necessary, but you can delete comments if they offend you.

Not only are the affordances of each tool interesting, the genre differences are as well. Friendster and MySpace are both very hip, I'm-cool-without-even-trying, and sexy, almost intimidatingly so. It's a relief when someone makes fun of them. I find the whole phenomenon fascinating when I read it as an exercise in self-presentation and posturing, but hey, I'm not above such practices; I participate right along with everyone else. Since getting on MySpace, I communicate a lot more often with my friends at home, so I'm not complaining.

New Course on Weblogs Has Wiki Syllabus

Nick Olejniczak of blogosphere.us is teaching a class on weblogs in the spring at the University of Wisconsin. I'm guessing it's in his home department, Family and Consumer Communications. His syllabus is a wiki on which he would like feedback and suggestions for reading assignments. Olejniczak writes, "In the spirit of the medium that inspired the class, let's see if we can build a syllabus that will itself demonstrate the collaborative power of the blogosphere." Open design for open design. Very cool--I would love to teach a similar course.

Link via Blog de Halavais.

Roundtable on the Status of Qualitative Internet Research

On Sunday, I attended a roundtable discussion at AoIR called "Broadening Options and Raising Standards for Qualitative Internet Research: A Dialogue Among Scholars." Speakers included Annette Markham, University of Illinois-Chicago; Nancy Baym, University of Kansas; Susan Herring, Indiana University Bloomington; Shani Orgad, London School of Economics; and Kate Eichhorn, York University. First, let me say that this was a PACKED affair: The chairs were filled (luckily, I got one in the front row), people were sitting on the floor in the center aisle and along the perimeter of the room, and there was even a crowd standing in the doorway. The goals of the roundtable were to build the strength of qualitative inquiry and to improve the state of credibility of qualitative internet research. Keep in mind that these are just notes I'm typing up from that discussion, and they shouldn't be cited as the absolute truth of what went on at the session; I'm paraphrasing when I represent what these people said.

Report on AoIR

I didn't do one thing on my itinerary except present my paper, but I still had a great time. I met Liz, Alex, Andrew, Tracy, and Jeremy, and I also met Jason and Jason, which was lots of fun. I spent a little too much money at LUSH, but hey, when do I ever have the opportunity to go to a LUSH store?!

Anyway, now for the linking roundup:

Tracy blogs about a panel she and I both attended (and Tracy was one of the presenters by proxy): "Online/Offline Intersections." Tracy also writes about our panel in that same post and has more notes here. On Sunday, I attended a roundtable on qualitative internet research which was excellent. I took three pages of paper notes and will blog those as soon as I get a chance.

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