Sample Proposals

Here are several proposals I have successfully submitted for conferences.  They may be helpful examples.

Desire, Dissent and Differentiation: Sustaining Growth in Virtual Networks — New Network Theory 2008

Many if not all virtual communities have been spawned out of the founders’ desire to find others who share their views, pleasures,
distastes, and obsessions. The early net communities were generally peopled by users who shared a propensity toward play or fantasy, but the population of Internet users has diversified and grown to include many people coming to net communities for many reasons beyond these initial desires. This growth has challenged communities to accommodate the demands of new participants and some have been stretched to dissolution. Studying communities that have survived and evolved reveals that they all find ways to identify and meet the changing desires of their members, often by adopting a hybrid form. For this study, three websites are examined:,, and Choices about who controls contributions and interaction on these sites as well as differing technical approaches suggest many possible axes of comparison but commonalities may yet be insufficient to justify the creation of fixed categories to contain our thoughts on the evolution of social networks. Instead we may productively complicate the simple and idealistic theories currently popular.

Let’s Pretend — Pop Culture Association 2008

Where is the line between “real” life and pretend?  Does the tension between these two and between the similarly divided what’s actual and what’s virtual encourage a spirit of play?  How does the possibility of transgression related to playful behavior in online communities?  Through auto-ethnographic study, this paper examines the way people participate in online communities and in particular explores the tension between identities that are “sanctioned” –that is professional, mainstream, or otherwise considered “normal” vs. the subversive or marginal. Permeable boundaries between lifeworlds, the “normal” and the “deviant” and the possibility of border-crossing or transgression seem to encourage a sense of play. First, membership in the groups themselves seems to be perceived as transgressive if the group identity is in some way marginal, or the community is understood to be aimed at a target demographic different than the participants’ own.  For example, and scholar using Facebook in a playful way may feel their behavior is transgressive because Facebook is popularly understood to be for teenagers.  Further, transgressive and playful behavior within groups appear to strengthen user involvement and observations suggest that this ludic dynamic of transgression depends on a shared sense of normal or appropriate behavior.  Understanding the workings of these online communities will help us to better understand what draws people in and keeps them engaged not only in virtual communities, but in communities more generally.

Ethereal Archives: The Evolution of Information Structures from Social Networks and Their Impact on Collective and Personal Identity — Conference on College Composition and Communication 2010

How do collective archives emerge from the individual digital memories of participants in social networks, facilitated by social software? Networks in northern California are studied and described as “ethereal archives” because they are widely distributed, linked through blogs, microblogs, and other locations in which content is always changing. Digital technology allows preservation of memories, and at the same time broadcast of those memories to the community in many  formats, including text, photostreams, video collections and on social networking sites. Over time, events, objects and even people generate folksonomic tagging across platforms, and a shared understanding of the things being described.

These archives become an extension not only of personal, but of collective memory; both individual and community identities are shaped and preserved in collaborative ethereal archives, made up of  numerous people’s online collections of text and other media. They are dependent for organization on social connections across the network expressed through links shared via numerous platforms, and studying an ethereal archive’s emrgence reveals that it both reflects and shapes the communities from which it arises.

2 comments for “Sample Proposals

  1. November 12, 2009 at 2:56 pm

    I found some very interesting concepts that could come out of the last two examples..”Let’s Pretend..” Ethereal Archives.” are these from students currently in our class? Can I take possibly one of these concepts and expand to be my own? Or are these just guidelines to what our proposals should look like?

  2. November 12, 2009 at 3:03 pm

    Cynthia, these are proposals I’ve written myself, and you are welcome to expand on any of them. I’d be flattered!

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