November 16, 2006

03: Two chapters down…. probably far too many to go

Hurray! I showed my supervisor my chapter 2 today & he OKed it. Two days before my self-imposed deadline, oh yeah!
I wrote the first draft for it in a rather disgusting manner. It’s so hard to write things that are difficult to understand yourself in terms that other people would understand. I struggled at first because the only reference that I had for the models of psychology for communicating via technologies was a psychology book that was pretty hardgoing. It doesn’t make an awful lot of sense in some places & seems to just skim over certain topics without any clear explanation as to their relevance, or what the author is trying to achieve by adding them. Once I’d let go of my obsession with that book (& my fear of developing my own opinion, god forbid!) I manage to settle into being able to critically analyse the models of communication, and not just take them for gospel. I also found I had another book, which, although not complex enough to be of particular use for content and detail, had an intelligent way of discussing the models that enabled me to simplify them in my own mind. I then tried to find or make up analogies for the models and technical terms in the chapter so that the reader would be able to understand it & take it then.
I then forced my boyfriend to read it twice, & he seemed to think that it was readable (mostly!) so at last I was done.

I’m now up to 8k though, & the limit for the project is about 18k. My supervisor said I should get on with tackling the next chapter & see how many words I’m up to then. If I’m veering dangerously close to 18k then we shall go see the coordinator for the projects and OK it being longer. If I do actually get close to 18k at that point then my project might actually end up being about 30k! People keep looking at me in amazement when I say how many words I’ve done… I supposed most Computer Scientists aren’t used to having to write that much. Now that I’ve broken the back of chapter 2, though, I’m going to enjoy the rest a lot more. I’m much more interested in the practical use of blogs because, whatever we think about what might happen or what the cumulative effects of everything that happens are – blogging is such a new phenomenom that all we really have to go on (in my opinion) is how people feel about it & what they do with it.

My next chapter to focus on will be how individuals & groups use blogs. I particularly want to focus on actually having a personal area for your own thoughts or critique from an individuals perspective, and also how the blogging networks & blog-based social networks are a big part of communication, relationships and social or activity/interests groups these days. I’m not entirely sure how I’m going to approach this chapter, so I’m going to try & get my hands on as many papers & relevant things to read as possible. I might try & split both the individual and group outlook into good and bad impacts with some sort of summary.

I’ll try & update while I’m doing the research for the chapter rather than just writing a summary about it at the end as I have done with my last two! This one’s probably going to require a lot more thinking about so I’ll try & use this blog as a “thoughtspace”, rather aptly. It’d be interesting to see if anybody has any comments on bloggings through personal experience or any interesting links on it.

This entry was almost as long as my dissertation, so I’m going to shut up now.

October 30, 2006

02 A dissertation on blogging would probably benefit from a blog entry…

I’ve done a lot more work on the project since I first wrote. I always find it easier to think about things after I’ve done a large amount of research & I sit down to actually write what I want to say about it, which is why I haven’t felt like writing an entry about my work for a while.
Anyway, I’ve written a decent draft of the first chapter which just explains the origin of weblogs and follows their progression from literal logs of the web as the first generation, through to more journal type purposes of the second generation, & then onto a less obvious (more disputed?) third generation of blog-based social networks. I’m pretty happy with that at the moment so I’m leaving it be until I finish the second chapter, & then I’ll have another strict look at it & tidy it up more.

I’m currently working on the second chapter. This has had much slower progress than the first because the first was literally a chronology of events and issues that let to the development of blogging. This chapter is focused on the psychology behind weblogging. I’ve started by looking at previous “new” technologies so that I’m not reinventing the wheel. I’ve then gone onto looking at how affordances affect a technology and discuss this with regards to blogging. Now I’m on the yucky bit about psychological models for computer mediated communication. These have taken quite a while to read about & digest, & I’m struggling with writing about them without a) plagiarising b) oversimplifying and c) overcomplicating. Nice, huh?
So far I’m applying a brute force approach of reading the relevant information & just typing out something that vaguely explains the models. I keep re-reading it every few days & tidying it up, or having epiphanies about the layout.
I think I’m just going to have to get the model information down as concisely and readably as possible & then think about how I’m going to apply that specifically to blogs. I’m not sure whether to do that as a separate section or to entangle it with the explanations of the models. The fact that I just chose the word “entangle” for that idea doesn’t bode well, but nevermind.

I’m setting myself a hopeful deadline of 18th November to have this chapter at least done to a reasonable standard. However, I have a lot of other deadlines around that time, so I might have to let it slide back to the end of term.

More updates soon, I hope.

July 10, 2006

01 – The beginning

I've decided to use this blog for updates/discussion/hair–pulling/ranting*
on my 3YP on the evolution of weblogs as computer mediated communication & their social impacts.

After a few weeks of procrastination & vague research reading I've managed to draw up a rough TOC, with the history of weblogs from first generation through to third generation application programs that we all know & love/hate* like MySpace.

A few issues I'm considering for the remaining chapters:

  • Why do people blog?
  • Growing up digital – the Net–generation & the usage of blogs by them.
  • Does blogging bring people together in shared interests, or segregate them according to interests?
  • Personal communication with family & friends vs. isolation & anti–social IRL
  • Journalism vs. blogging – the effect of blogs on our access & knowledge of the goings on in the world.
  • The future.

* delete as applicable

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  • Mine was literature based rather than research based so I didn't do a questionnaire. Have you tried … by Raeeka on this entry
  • Hey there…i am doing a dissertation on blogging as well…and i am having difficulties on getting … by sam on this entry

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