13:51 11/06/2004 Mathemagenic: Mathemagenic
...giving birth to learning...


  Saturday, October 22, 2005

  Vacation :)

I'm on a vacation till 31 October. First St.Peterburg, then Moscow. No blogging, but may be some flickring

  Friday, October 21, 2005

  Blog metrics for business

Tristan Louis writes a series blog posts on on blog metrics for business (via David Weinberger):

I don't even have time to read it properly, but this is something I really would like to return to.

[Pinging Liz and Korby]

More on: blogs in business 

  Escaping categories

Just a quote from danah boyd:

Our lives have started to escape categories.

The post is actually about experiences on topical vs. personal blogging. Jack Vinson has a follow-up on shifting interests, forgetting and categorisation.

I'm thinking of some examples from my study at Microsoft, but this will have to wait (mainly because work is hard as I'm less than 24 hours away from my long awaited vacation :)

  Wednesday, October 19, 2005

  On the role of theory, researcher accountability and translation

Wendy Freeman comments on my post on the role of theory:

I think that in this sense theory distances people from the way that others view a particular event or book or technology or .... Viewing everyday practice through a particular theoretical lens is exciting because it gives depth to what we see, but trying to communicate that to others is a challenge. We lack a common language. Is this another social dimension to learning? Developing a shared way of looking at something? Of course, it's called different things, shared beliefs, shared understanding, shared language, or shared theoretical frameworks.

Right on the point. Going further into theoretical explanations gives depth to the phenomenon you study, but it also deepens the gap between you as a researcher and others (people in general, people you study, other researchers who happen to go deep into other theories).

It is also about choices to whom you are accountable as a researcher. You have to satisfy your research community, taking care of theories, rigor and transparency. But going to far into that has risks of disconnecting with the reality and doing research just for the sake of intellectual curiosity.

For me research is about impact. Of course, intellectual curiosity, contribution to a theory and rigor should be there, but for me my own research makes sense only if it makes a difference in the lives of people. People who may or may not understand the language of theory.

Researchers make their own choices about that. Some would choose hunting for treasures deep in the theory land and let others bring it back to the world just because this enables them to go further. Others would take extra effort not to bring it back (at all or during the study time), out of ethical concerns (do you have a right to change the way indigenous people live with all your ideas on how things could be different?) or methodological consideration (keeping distance helps to avoid "polluting your data"*). I guess I belong to another group, those who feel that bringing it back is part of the research itself.

I'm not the first one to bring it up (and the researcher in me says that I should dig out references to "earlier work" :). It's only now I'm starting to articulate** my implicit beliefs in researcher's accountability to the broader community than his or her research peers, the responsibility to bring the research results back from the theory land to where most people live, either by translating them into everyday words, teaching the language of theory or even involving them as co-researchers...

*Although the concern is reasonable, I hate this expression.

** Heavily influenced by conversations at AOIR, especially those with Terri Senft, Annette Markham, Abby Goodrum and kat jungnickel.

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  Friday, October 14, 2005

  Document management frustration

For one of the projects I have to work with document management system that makes me SO frustrated that I have to write it down (also to think about the arguments to change into something else :)

  • there are no obvious permalinks (it's frame-based) and those you get via "open in the new window" are unreadable (including all all folder names in a hierarchy + file name)
  • there are no version control - you can't just upload new version on the top of the old one; you need to create new file, mark old one as "old" or delete it to make clear that it's updates
  • it's hierarchical - forget about tagging or adding a document to multiple folders

Not surprising that people send attachments by email :(

[Don't get me wrong - it looks really nice, has access rights, workflow support and million other things you want to have in a project, it's just not friendly to the basic tasks you want to do - add a document and let others know where to find it and what is its status.]

The worst thing is that it's partly my responsibility: being overloaded with things to finish before going to Microsoft this summer I gave up in the discussion and followed others' choice. I hope that it's not too late and politically feasible to work things out...

More on: KM RUSMECO 

  Wednesday, October 12, 2005

  Studying weblogs at Microsoft: blogging as a person or as an employee

[I have one of those days where I don't do things I supposed to do, but do all other useful things instead :)]

Kevin Schofield (MSR) writes on choices related to blogging as a person or as an employee (re: blogging Bill Gate's college tour):

This blog is my personal thing. It's written on my Tablet PC. I paid for the hosting service out of my own pocket. Microsoft has no control over it, and they have never told me what to write on it. Every word is mine and mine alone (except for the quoted parts :-). Regardless of whether you agree with what I say, it's still an honest reflection of what I think about a wide variety of things. So one of the first questions I struggled with was: where do I blog about the college tour? Because this is the first time I will officially be blogging as a Microsoft employee.

So you may ask, does that matter? I certainly asked that. It turns out, at least for me, it matters a great deal. The company asked me to blog about a Microsoft activity, from my perspective as a Microsoft employee taking part in it and observing. To be clear, the company hasn't told me what kind of tone to take, what kinds of things to write about, etc. They've given me no editorial guidance at all, which I appreciate, and I take that to mean that they like the way that I write honestly about things and want me to do just that. On the other had, there are real practical limits that are known and apparent. [...]

Via post by Alfred Thompson, which is a discussion of something else (interesting as well) - fragmentation between blogs...

  Good research...

While doing other things I'm in the middle of post-AOIR thinking on research methodologies, ethics and researcher's responsibilities. I have to do all those other things, but I'm pretty sure that this thinking will surface in writing, sooner or later.

But so far just a quote from Annette Markham (Ethics as method: A case for reflexivity (.pdf)):

Good qualitative research, online or off,
is not difficult to find or access,
it is difficult to formalize.

Good research, online or off,
is hard work.

Good research comes from the heart.

  On the role of theory

Quite often in my PhD process I have complicated discussions about the role of theory in my research. Today, looking through my Flickr photos I realised that one of them could serve as a good example.

Men people watchingA year ago I probably wouldn't notice it or wouldn't make a photo - it's just a city scene during a lunch break. So, what happened between now and then?

I read some theory :)

Being driven by my personal interests in architecture and fascination with cities as well as sensing emergent parallels between city life and social processes in online spaces, I went through reading "Life between buildings" by Jan Gehl and City: Rediscovering the Center by William H. White (see Edges and Individual in a public space: learning from weblogs and cities for some background).

Those two books are full with observations of people sitting on the curb and discussions on why, how and where it happens as well as implications for the design of public places in cities.

Now, equipped with knowledge I took from those books I look at things differently, I notice things that I wouldn't notice before and I know what questions to ask...

More on: city methodology PhD 

  Monday, October 10, 2005

  KM bloggers community (2)

Anjo is documenting more experimentation with mapping KM bloggers community (check paper for the background) - this time going beyond links into text analysis.

I think that we are up to something interesting with both, linking/discovery algorithm and text analysis of Anjo. Promise to blog more on that - also explaining things behind the paper (so happy to be back...).

  Back home

I'm back home and...

...jumping around to make balloons fly (it's fun - even my birthday becomes distributed in time and space :)

...still thinking of visual and textual and million other things that came up in conversations with Kat

...catching up with blogs and fixing Radio (again :( instead of catching sleep

More on: life 

  Saturday, October 08, 2005

  AOIR: my selection of papers

The conference has a really great set of papers. Due to lack of wifi and presentation anxiety for two days I wasn't blogging much, so I decided just to make a list of papers that I consider interesting. Extended abstracts are online, some papers are online as well (requires AOIR membership, but it 200% worth it).

[I'm working on the list - it's still updated. If you don't want to wait check http://del.icio.us/mathemagenic/AOIR+papers]

Trena Paulus & Vanessa Dennen, Weblogs as spontaneous mentoring mechanism for academics - very good overview of "Profworld" academic blogging community (qualitative, with examples) and discussion on how mentoring takes place there (really hope that paper or slides will be online)

Jenna Burrell, Telling Stories of Internet Fraud: how word-of-mouth shapes Internet use in Accra, Ghana - I missed the presentation as I had to be somewhere else, but I fun of listening to her stories from Ghana over food and the paper is great

katrina jungnickel, Ways of seeing and researching the blog - on 73 urban journeys, visual and textual, as well as blogs in research (with lots to discuss in comparision with my own work)

Jang Hyun Kim, Blog as an oppositional medium?: A Semantic Network Analysis on the Iraq War Blogs

Jia Lin, Alex Halavais, Blogs as indicators of social relationships in the US

Alice Marwick, ďIím a Lot More Interesting than a Friendster ProfileĒ: Identity Presentation, Authenticity and Power in Social Networking Services

Ericka Menchen Trevino, Blogger motivations: Power, pull, and positive feedback (full text is here) - a study on blogging motivations between college students. I was especially fascinated by the framing the results on negotiating anonymity and Ericka was very nice to blog it

Trena Paulus, Vanessa Dennen, The next generation of research methods for online collaborative learning environments

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More on: AOIR blog research 

  Friday, October 07, 2005

  AOIR: Finding 'the life between buildings': An approach for defining a weblog community

Long promised - our (still work in progress) with Stephanie Hendrick and Anjo Anjewierden :

Abstract. Although weblogs are perceived as low-threshold tools to publish online, empowering individual expression in public, there is growing evidence of social structures evolving around weblogs and their influence on norms and practices of blogging. Emerging from connections between weblogs and their authors, weblog communities often do not have a shared space, clear boundaries, or clear membership, challenging researchers who want to study them. Initially intended to be a study in the delineation of weblog boundaries, the scope of defining these boundaries immediately overwhelmed traditional methods and tools. The problems that arose from using traditional link mining methods led to an exploration of alternative approaches of defining these communities. The purpose of this paper is to get an insight into methods of finding "life between buildings": virtual settlements where weblog communities may reside. We use Jonesí (1997) theory of a virtual settlement and archaeological metaphor to address research challenges of locating weblog communities, suggest an iterative approach that includes refinement of research methods based on assumptions about community norms, practices and artefacts, and propose which artefacts could serve as indicators of community presence. Finally we present a pilot study which explores different methods of identifying community membership beginning with a known core member of a group of knowledge management bloggers.


I'm running right now, but will add a few links a bit later one as well as talk about most interesting things we found last weeks in the blog (in case you are too lazy to read the paper).

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  A day with a view...

Sunrise cityAlarm clock goes on at 6:20. I wake up. Open the curtains. At my feet lays a sleeping city, still dark, but full of lights and life.

It's early, but who cares - I'm going to have a breakfast with Patti Anklam and the view is beautiful - 42 floor and windows starting at my feet...

I take shower and think of things strange and different, and I'm happy.

I'm turning 30.

I think how different it is from what I could think ten years ago. Being far away, the city at my feet and a day with imaginary friends.

I think of those I love - wake up SMS and kusjes - celebrations to go in two more countries - my aunt who called in the middle of the night - more of us have to get used to time zone differences - was funny talking to my mom when it was already 7th in Moscow and 6th over here...

And it doesn't feel different (surprise!) or becoming older and wiser - just a good reason to feel happy when another day starts.

As I get ready and type this the city changes from black to blue to pink to burning orange in the windows across. It's time to go...

More on: life 

  Thursday, October 06, 2005

  AOIR: Not documenting, doing: blogging as research

I'm presenting today: Not documenting, doing: blogging as research (slides). It's heavily related to my presentation in June, but goes a bit further.

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More on: AOIR blog research 

  Tuesday, October 04, 2005


Itís a lot of work and a lot of love, but behind those there is an unsettledness...

Coming to the Netherlands I thought of a few years Ė cultural experiences and professional fun Ė an then going back home.

Iím listening to Stephanie on Skype, talking in Swedish with her kids. I think of friends staying in our house: she talks to their daughter in French, he talks in Dutch. Iím hungry Ė observing, thinking Ė feeding the unsettledness that doesnít go awayÖ

Itís not about cultural differences. Speaking different languages or coming from different cultures Ė somehow I tend to connect with people based on personalities and shared values rather than cultural origins. Language or cultural differences are there, but there are so many reasons to explore the shared ground that whose are more fun than a problem. At the end I always enjoyed diversity and building bridges across.

Itís about something else.

Now Iím realising that I grew up in a small place. Itís not really small (10 million? I guess more), but it feels that way. I grew up with close physical distance to all my social ties. Itís not that we saw each other often, but everyone was within an hour or two Ė family, friends, acquaintances. Big city is big enough to live, to have fun and work, to do things, to find people to hand out with. In that sense itís self-contained.

You donít feel the boundaries Ė there is so much to explore in ever-changing space, with so many people and things happening. And you can travel as well. But those travels are like Moscow metro Ė radial lines connecting in the center Ė you go far and have fun, but at the end you are back to the space where your life belongs Ė your social space that happened to be so small. Close social interactions are ad-hoc Ė with an hour or two in between you donít have to plan much, and even if you do, its knowledge that everyone is around that adds a very special flavour to your life.

Now I realise that I do not have role-models. There are millions in Moscow who could tell me a story of coming from far-away or having their loved ones far away, but my close family is around and my friends are there. Some of them could tell a story of connecting with those far away, but I never asked. I never thought it would be important. Like you would never think of what you would wear in the snow if you never seen it. Stories of others are curiosities about the life on Mars.

Now itís different. Now Iím hungry for those stories, looking for the models and experiences, figuring out what to expect. The centralised model I grew up with is not there any more Ė my social ties are all over the place, itís getting more so and it doesnít feel like temporary anymore.

This brings unsettledness. Going home is an illusion Ė I read it when I was 17, but only now Iím starting to realise it.

Itís not that Iím homesick. Not right here and right now. Itís just an unsettledness of realising that things that have never been part of my life before are here to stay...

More on: city cross-cultural life 

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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.

Last update: 1/19/2006; 9:35:36 PM.