Updated: 6/30/2005; 11:35:30 PM.

Mathemagenic


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  Tuesday, April 19, 2005


  Notes on my PhD methodology: weblog studies

Earlier in this series:

What I call "studies" is something that has been part of my PhD before I came into recognising an ethnographical layer of it. I started from the idea of understanding personal knowledge management through studying specific blogging practices through the several studies. Since then the focus on studies stays more or less the same*:

  • weblog conversations
  • weblog reading
  • weblog as personal knowledge organiser (often hides under "weblog writing" label, but it's only one-sided view on writing)
  • weblog communities (this one that wasn't in the original list)

I think of these studies as about different 2D projections of 3D phenomenon**: I try to look at different practices of blogging in order to (re)construct personal knowledge management issues (don't like the word, but struggling to find something better) they manifest. It could be considered as "viewpoint triangulation" rather than "cross-case analysis".

Each study has specific research questions and specific methods to approach them, however all to some extend combine "artefact analysis" with "making it meaningful". The first one is about looking at artefacts: weblog text, linking, subscriptions, categories. The second one is about understanding what is behind artefacts and practices as visible through artefacts (~ does link indicates a relation?) usually through interviewing or meta-blogging (my own/others independently or in a dynamic).

The studies reflect the multidisciplinary approach I have chosen to look at personal KM each of the viewpoints is interrelated with others, but also heavily informed by a particular field (e.g. "weblog as personal knowledge organiser" connects with studies on personal information management).

In this respect I hope that each of studies also makes sense in a stand-alone mode, but conceptual and especially methodological dependencies do not make it that easy. This is where reflective ethnography and blogging come into play.

Simply explained reflective ethnography provides a foundation and a frame for the weblog studies I do. Reflecting on my own blogging experiences and interacting with "similar others" provides ideas for research questions, sampling, data collection and analysis methods informing and shaping specific weblog studies.

Of course, there is a complex explanation as well. Blogging is not only a way to participate in the community I study. I also blog my reflections, notes on research, interpretations, work-in-progress and final papers, so my research findings become an input for my blogging community, influencing things I discover during stages that follow.

[May be continued]

* I haven't made enough progress in these studies as a result of "other work" pressures and lack of methodological and conceptual clarity for my overall approach. I'm event not sure that I'll finish all these studies depends on how far I go in those heavily in progress, how much time I have and when I reach "enough is enough" point in my PhD.

** 2D/3D metaphor has some connections with the issue of invisibility/implicitness of PKM that I frequently talk about: one can think of (in)visibility as a lack of dimensions. Something like: 2D creatures do not see 3D phenomenon in a full glory because they don't have senses to perceive it (which of course doesn't mean that they are not aware of it you can sense that there is something of another dimension observing irregularities of 2D).


  Too serious?

South Park Lilia: self-potraitDoes it look like me?

Somewhere last week I picked link to South Park studio up from Jeremy (he also did a fun thing of creating South Park versions of his friends). Played with it and then got immersed into PhD writing.

A haven't been blogging much last weeks. And when I did it was mainly about all kinds of things related to my PhD methodology. I'm going to write more on it, but keep on wondering what does it do to my readers.

The comments that I get seem to be from totally different people than the usual ones... Actually, there are not any "usual commenters" - who comments depends heavily on topic I write about. But usually I write on all kinds of subjects and commenters come from all kinds of backgrounds, but lately it feels so one sided.

I wonder if people from "KM crowd" still read my weblog - I haven't been writing on KM for a couple of months if not more. Not because I'm out of the topic, just because there is so much time to blog and topics of higher priority for the moment take the stage. So what people do? Unsubscribe? Skim and hope that I'll right more in the future? Actually read it?

South Park Lilia reading books: self-potraitI'm also thinking of how it will go in the future. I'm getting into more convergent phase of my PhD, so I wonder what it will do my blog. Make it more focused? Kill multidisciplinary/mixed nature of what I write? Make it boring (not sure that reading all methodology "thinking aloud" is that fun :)? Change my audience? I have no idea.

Anyway now my weblog is a good reflection of my current stage. Something like this South Park Lilia on the right - lost in the reading all those books on ethnography :)

They told me that PhD is about focusing. I suspect that it's about my blog becoming too serious :)


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© Copyright 2002-2005 Lilia Efimova.

This weblog is my learning diary. Sometimes I write about things related to my work, but the views expressed here are personal and do not necessarily reflect the views of my employer.

 
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