So here I am, we are in the last paper session before the wrap-up and I’m still trying to come up with some thoughts about emerging themes. Hampered a bit by the fact that rather than reading the proceedings yesterday after dinner, instead I stayed late at the dinner talking to David Krebs and enjoying the warm evening. But here are some things I notice keep coming up:
- collective memory
- failure of offline/online and real/virtual distinctions
- persistent lack of quanititative data
- most differences among users seem to have disappeared, except for age, and among the FLOSS community, still huge gender differences.
Data collection is especially tough because companies don’t give away the data, and user surveys have all kinds of limitations. It seems the best way for a number of platforms is to design an application users would like to add for somereason that also collects data on them for the researcher.
Distinctions –all agree we need finer distinctions, but little agreement on what they should be, especially when ontological issues start coming in, or questions of whether or how online actions are carried into offline life. (to reiterate that stupid distinction!)
Collective memory is quite interesting because it’s so overtly influenced by the platform being used and in what way things are archived or not. So for example, messages can be reviewed later, but battled can’t (unless they were deliberately filmed.)
Disappearing distinctions –I was quite encouraged to hear from several speakers that use of technology seems more equal now except for age, and even around age, the issue is not so much using tech or not, but the manner of use. However, the gender issue in FLOSS communities is troubling because even though those communities are small, they represent an important measure of participation in creation. If women continue absent, then the tech developments will remain slanted toward what interests and works well for men, and the cycle continues.
Pausing now to hear a talk about blogging and identity.
Can’t write too much at the moment because I will be speaking myself in 27 minutes. 🙂
Some quite interesting talks here, but I am surprised (pleasantly) how broadly representative the panelists are. The conference is small–only one track of three speakers per panel for a total of 8 speakers including me! –Not counting discussants and the conference organizer, but still quite small. It leads to very interesting discussions between talks and I expect dinner will be quite nice that way as well. At least I hope so!
Some themes are emerging, but I’ll wait until I have a chance to digest the ideas a bit more and read the proceedings before I comment on that. I did not get my revisions done in time to be included, but now both the slides and paper or online at Scribd. I was especially interested in David Kreps‘ talk and hopefully will find his stuff in the reader.
One trend though, to whet your appetites–agreement that the virtual/real or online/offline dichotomies are unsatisfactory ways to undersatnd any of this stuff. Finally!
Now it’s official; I will give a talk at University of Twente on June 25th. Here’s the blurb:
A preliminary report on how scholars perceive their social network/audience on Facebook, and what effect the risk of and real border-crossing or transgressive behavior has for them personally and professionally with their colleagues. –So in other words shifting the focus the what students are doing or how they perceive us to what we scholars are doing and how we perceive each other. I make a rhetorical analysis of gestures that are exchanged between users, and in particular discuss how these gestures may help create a feeling of presence.
My own experience suggests that while perhaps there is some risk to the behavior encouraged by Facebook, there is also considerable personal and professional benefit to engaging in the prescribed playful actions of Facebook applications. They seem to encourage connections that are emotionally more intimate and stronger, which offers both personal and professional advantages. People with whom we have multi-valent relationships online may also become people with whom we might collaborate on research, or organize conference panels, or at least go to for advice when visiting their home countries/cities.
Thus I ultimately argue that along with the playful air pervading Facebook, there can also be a feeling of risk, and that users sharing experiences that give rise to this tension actually strengthen their social and professional bonds. In academic circles there aren’t many venues where play and risk are valued or even possible, which may explain why Facebook has been so attractive to many of us who by rights (as trained critical thinkers) ought to be the most resistant to its charms.
So basically people get a sneak preview of the talk I will give the following week in Germany at IFIP WG 9.5 and preliminary thoughts on the paper I’m preparing for IR 9.0
So let’s see; I just got accepted to IFIP WG 9.5 International Working Conference on Virtuality and Society: Massive Virtual Communities, which is the 1st and 2nd of July, 2008 at Leuphana University Lueneburg, Germany. I’m glad of that; I hear the group and the people involved are well regarded and there is a book planned, so that may guarantee me another chapter by the time my tenure review rolls around. I guess the nearest big city is Hamburg–I’ve never been anywhere in Germany yet, so actually anywhere will be interesting! I think it’s within reach, by train, of Rotterdam, so I can fit it into my other research pretty easily.
This summer I plan to interview Florian, Mirko, Brenno; some museum folk, and see if I can volunteer at Worm, make a site visit to U. Utrecht, U. Twente, and follow up on the email interviews I’m conducting already. –Of course I talk about new media and tech stuff with Florian, Mirko and Brenno anyway, but I need to do formal interviews to make sure that I get some comparable answers among all of them. Oh yeah, I also want to talk to the women at Gender Changers.
if my panel proposals get since at least one panel proposal has been accepted to IR 9.0, I need to work on that some. And there’s the SFRA Europe plan…..oy veh. Overbooked again.