Saturday, April 9

discussion of research design

Last thursday I discussed my research design at uni. It was an interesting and heated discussion, which made quite a difference to me in my approach. Also I'm still thinking about it, so more about changes later.

Just now I spoke to a friend about the same topic. We really got into deep discussion - especially about the possibility of online-research, or virtual ethnography. She argued, that it is very important to at least the meet people, that I do my research about. Stuff like non-verbal communication, the context people live in, their friends, way of life, social status,... is only visible this way - which is of course very true. So the problem is that one can write about anything in a blog, and it doesn't have to be true. I (and this is now her example) could be given the sack and actually write about my promotion. This reminds me of someone making up a blogger, a young girl who then died of leukemia - but actually never existed. (Any hints who this was and what happened?)

So why do people really blog? Is it, that they haven't got any friends? Is this their way of forming social contacts? Is this the sign of an ever lonlier world? What happenes when people meet online, form relations online? What's the context bloggers live in?

The whole thing boils down to the difference between what people say and what people do, really, I guess. And I know Christine Hine also writes about it, somewhere. Just have to find out where.
Another question that was brought up in our discussion is writing across cultural boundaries. What happens when people communicate across cultural differences? Does it make a difference at all?

And finally: What happens if the outcome of my research is, that blogs are just the way of scientific writing, of scientific discourse? What happenes to the scientist from the south? What if she's only got internet access once a week? And what if she's really an expert in a field of heated debate, but just can't contribute?

This question is a rather political one, I think. Do I promote anything with my research, and if so: what?

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