I was a bit mixed up after finding out that I was being researched by students as part of their assignment. Not because I’m uncomfortable with it. I’m pretty aware that my weblog is “out there” for others to study, I participated in a few weblog studies as a “case” and I’m always glad to “return” the favor even if it’s not directly to those whom I study.
Being uncomfortable comes from a feeling of intrusion into a private space – the girls researching me didn’t expect me to start studying them in turn. “Intrusion discomfort” came not so much from doing background search work (at the end what I found was published openly on the web), but from letting them know that I found them when I blogged it. I thought that they would be uncomfortable knowing that they are being watched, so I became uncomfortable myself thinking of that 🙂
I found kind of a middle ground. I didn’t blog any direct links and names, so at least their work didn’t get exposed to more people (don’t think others had many reasons to get curious enough about the issue to do the same background connections I did). And I didn’t look in the wiki pages about myself untill reading today in weblog of one of the authors that the assignment was finished. And, yes, somehow I didn’t have any problem subscribing to weblogs of both students.
The reason I’m writing about this that it’s unusual. Usually I wouldn’t have any problem linking to most of weblogs/wiki pages I find online, even if they are about myself. So, I wonder why I’m different this time…
It’s definitely has some connection with blog research ethics, or, probably just with blog ethics. Something around: “don’t bring into a spotlight those who think they are in a private space if you think they may not like it”.
Another reason is that it was an assignment in a course. I didn’t want to mess up whatever goals Adrian has for the assignment and I didn’t want to make it too complicated for the students.
Anyway, I’m wondering what Adrian Miles and the students would say: did I do more harm or good with putting my nose into this whole thing? could I take more freedom and link directly to students and their work? can I do it now when it’s finished?
As for me that was a nice experience:
- I thought more on how blurry are the boundaries between researcher and researched in the weblog (online?) world
- I made an interesting observation while participating in the interview that was part of the assignment, which turned into insightful comments from Lois, which have potential of turning into research questions
- While checking wiki pages about myself I found highlighted an aspect of my work that I probably should focus more and some additional reading on the topic
And this is one more illustration why I find mixing blogging and research so fun and so rewarding 🙂
Archived version of this entry is available at http://blog.mathemagenic.com/2005/05/04.html#a1573; comments are here.