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 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, or know people who do, your participation is welcome, whether you have any friends or not. The survey is posted here. The 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 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.”

Comments (6) to “The Summer Research Life”

  1. so many projects! and really interesting, too.

    the book sounds killer and very necessary – especially if you integrate web 2.0-era stuff into longer discussions of online community and the internet. too many books i see are stuck in listservs or usenet or web sites or – ack! – moo’s and mud’s. we gotta update our intellectual bookmarks to include web 2.0 stuff. that’s what our students use and that’s what they digg. good luck with your many projects.

    question, maybe weird: i always assumed your blog was a research blog. i thought you were researching, writing about, and discussing with others fandom 2.0 and music 2.0. yo – i always assumed you were going to cut and paste your blog into articles and a great book. is there even a book on music 2.0?

    ps: more pics please!

  2. Hey David — Yes, I will definitely be bringing Web 2.0 stuff into the book. There is a good forthcoming web 2.0 book by David Jennings called Net, Blogs, & Rock and Roll (see link in the blogroll). There are a couple of others too (arguably The Long Tail is one), but there aren’t any academic ones yet.

    This blog is kind of a research blog, and one day I hope it will get cut and pasted into a book and articles (that I hope will be great!). But I’m also trying to connect with people who don’t give a hoot about scholarship, people who just might be interested in keeping abreast of interesting trends or hearing what someone who thinks about these things a lot has to say.

    So I kind of feel that if my blog audience is ONLY fellow scholars, I’m not doing what I’m out to do. And there are a lot of people reading who are musicians, journalists, business people, fans, etc.

    So yeah, in a way it’s a research blog, but I hope it’s not an (overly) academic blog, if that makes sense. Of course, I love that fellow academics read it too, I just want to build some bridges and make some connections to the people engaged in the practical and lived dimensions of these things as well.

  3. p.s. pix of me? of Aspen?

  4. nancy – first, when i say more pics, i mean more pics of aspen but also more pics of you and your offline life!

    one of the things i’ve always liked about your blog is the community that visits and comments to it – some academics, some techies, some music people, and lots of swedes! i really like that element of the blog and i think it’s harder than it looks to foster such an audience.

    i guess what confused me was that you seemed to be dividing research you do with surveys and interviews from research you do from reading, blogging, and analyzing. to me, both are research, you know?

    but here’s my question: why does working on your survey and interview project result in less blogging? why not blog about that research?

    obviously, it’s your blahg! but i’m curious about what bloggers consider blogworthy and what is not. i’m especially curious about how many academic bloggers blog about a very narrow segment of their overall lives.

    anyways, this comment is too long and i’m worried that it will generate as much if not more confusion than my last comment. hee hee. let’s keep talking about this if you don’t mind.

  5. I see your point about it all being research. I guess there are a couple of things that differentiate it for me. One is audience: I think of Research as being aimed for an academic audience, and as I said, I don’t think of that as the goal here. And the other thing is that I have only the most general research question on this site (ie. what’s up in this vast terrain?) and I don’t have a clear end goal in mind. I think of this blog as more exploration and commentary, and less focused than I think of research as being. But in the big picture you’re right that when I’m scouring the net for interesting phenomena and taking note and writing them up, that is research (now convince my department of that, cuz they classify it as service, which beats not classifying it at all).

    As for why not blog about the Official Research things, I think I do sometimes (there are several posts on here about friends, social networks, and the online swedish indie scene), but again, given the diversity of readership, it’s hard to know what balance to strike between stuff that seems nerdy and stuff that’s interesting to all kinds of folks.

    It’s not that I don’t think it’s not blogworthy, it’s more that it’s a trick to figure out what people care to read and I don’t want to be too academic on here.

    Aspen pix galore on my Flickr page!

    And as for why I’d be more motivated to do one than the other right now, I guess it’s just a question of attention. Blogging is very easy for me. Research, like reading, taking careful notes, crafting careful questions and multi-page arguments to answer them, situating it all in relevant theory, etc is much harder and takes much longer concentrated attention spans.

    And no such thing as comments too long except you can’t see them all as you write them!

    Your turn!

  6. hey nancy – this comment thread is dangerously close to going into too many directions!

    first, when you say, “I think of Research as being aimed for an academic audience,” i have to just realize that we are different. i like academic audiences to test ideas but for me research means very little when it doesn’t travel beyond academics. put another way, my best research is that which converses with multiple audiences – academic and non-academic. we differ here i think.

    second, too bad your department sees blogs as service. bleh! one of these days, a department is going to wisen up and recognize that – for now – the blogosphere is where the ideas are: more than academic conferences, more than academic journals, more than academic listservs. sharing our research and our teaching and our service via blogs is, for me, one of the most exciting things that has happened recently within academia. last year, in my annual report, i placed blogging under research. yo: “Academic Blogging – My blog affords me academic connections to colleagues, students, and scholarly, artistic, and activist communities. Sometimes, the connections produce professional opportunities such as presentations, publications, and collaborations. Sometimes, the connections produce intellectual opportunities like multi-authored comment threads that further nuance an issue, idea, or interpretation. I enjoy and benefit academically from such connections, and look forward to expanding such activities. Further, I will continue to use my blog to share my research with my students and to share my students’ work with my colleagues.”