The Summer Research Life
It’s a busy time for little old Nancy these days. In addition to extended vacationing in Colorado, I’m working on several research projects. I don’t usually dwell too much on my researcher persona on this blog, but I thought some of you might be interested to hear what I’m up to, so here goes:
I’m about to collect data for two research projects that touch directly on fandom. First, I’m conducting a survey about the meaning of “friending” on Last.fm. I’ve long been intrigued by the use of the term “friend” in social network sites and the complexities of relationships that the term may mask. The topic’s been addressed to a small extent in Friendster, MySpace, and LiveJournal, but as far as I can tell, no one has looked at it in a site devoted specifically to fan-based activity. If you use last.fm, or know people who do, your participation is welcome, whether you have any Last.fm friends or not. The survey is posted here. The Last.fm office crew have been very supportive of this project and I want to thank them for that.
I’m also getting ready to conduct interviews for a study about the role(s) of online fans in Swedish indie music fandom. Obviously, this is a fandom with which I strongly identify (click on the last.fm radio button on the lower right to hear some of the music involved) and I’m very curious about how active online fans are carving out new roles for themselves in distributing, publicizing, (re)releasing, and other things I hope to discover before long. If you’re involved with that fandom as active fan, blogger, label person, musician, or otherwise, and are willing to be interviewed, please shoot me a message!
And then there’s the little matter of the book I’m writing for Polity Press, called Personal Connections in a Digital Age that’s part of their new Digital Media and Society series. They publish some amazing authors and books and I’m honored that I’ll be in that kind of company. For the last several years I’ve been teaching a class called Communication and the Internet, and last fall I taught a graduate seminar called Personal Relationships and Communication Technologies (click for course syllabi). This book will pull together the topics covered in those courses and serve as a one-stop-shop for people who want to know more about how people use the internet and mobile phones in personal relationships and what social consequences their uses may have. It’s aimed at students, scholars, and general readers who are more interested in what the research shows than in polemics. The book is not about fandom, but that will certainly rear its head, especially in the chapters on online community and social networks. It won’t be done for several months yet, and likely won’t see publication until late 2008 or even early 2009.
So right now, for whatever reasons, I find myself very motivated to work on these, and a bit less motivated to work on this blog. I’ll certainly keep posting here, but the daily stuff is going to subside for a while. If you’ve got tips to send on things I should cover, though, please keep sending them along! I’ll leave you with this (mirror image) shot of the well-situated scholar at work. What can I say? Someone’s gotta use that deck* :)
* my sister calls it “Baymwood: A pretentious patio restaurant in Aspen.”