Feb 28, 2011

Opening the source(s) with blogs in research practices

By the time I've started my PhD, I had already used blogs as a research tool for conducting research work, since 2003 [master's degree in Information Studies] not so much as a fieldwork tool, but as a way of registering trails of the research (ongoing information, readings, questions, doubts, ...) that allowed others to  find me and, in turn, due to explicit (comments in blog) or implicit (link back, web bookmarks, citations) conversations allowed me to find them.

Lorenz antropologi.info blog, for long, as been a way for me to feel connected to anthropology developments. Yesterday, while re-reading a recent post about using Comics to present research findings, I've recalled an older post that offered the link to the issues of Opening the source in fieldwork:
"When you do anthropological fieldwork, your main tool is yourself. You participate, you observe and you ask incredible amounts of questions."
I would think this would apply equally well for everyone conducting social science research, either for qualitative or quantitative studies. If for the qualitative paradigm one might not find hard to extend the above citation, it might not be so straight forward for the quantitative research. But it might become clear if one thinks that in quantitative survey instruments, the questions are framed by the researcher, hence the researcher becomes part of the design tool.

Come to think in this terms, all of science is done this way. One of the big differences might be that in anthropological fieldwork the researcher explicitly exposes the self as part of the study (reflexivity) and in other paradigms the researcher is concealed from the reports/narratives of the research, but nevertheless, they are embedded in the research work... and I recall the work of Latour and Wolgar on Laboratory Life: the construction of scientific facts:
"The construction of scientific facts, in particular, is a process of generating texts whose fate (status, value, utility, facticity) depends on their subsequent interpretation."

Feb 16, 2011

Communication history in stamps

Image from Kees Graaff post
Historical narratives of information artefacts, in a collection curated by Kees de Graaff, Communication: a history in stamps.

Feb 14, 2011

Information as thing

In accordance with the view of information as thing by Buckland (1999), the article by Jones, W. (2010, No knowledge but through informationFirst Monday, vol. 15 (9-6), September) brings back the arguments of the need to operate/manage information items and not knowledge: "Knowledge is not a thing to be managed directly. Knowledge is managed only indirectly through information". His view is directed to show that Personal Knowledge Management (PKM) should be viewed as a subset o Personal Information Management (PIM) and not as a higher level approach. 
"The ways in which an item is manipulated will vary depending upon its form and the tools available for this form. The tools used for interaction with paper–based information items include, for example, paper clips, staplers, filing cabinets and the flat surfaces of a desktop. In interactions with digital information items, we depend upon the support of various computer–based tools and applications such as e–mail applications, file managers, Web browsers, and so on. (...) Knowledge as ‘no thing’ cannot be managed directly. If we think we have knowledge ‘at our fingertips’ we are most likely touching information in some form instead. This is not to say that knowledge management is not possible. But we do so through its expression in information. There is no management of knowledge except through the management of information."

In his paper he also evokes a pictorial representation of "[i]nformation management activities viewed as an effort to establish, use and maintain a mapping between needs and information. ["illustration was done by Elizabeth Boling and is a variation of a figure that first appeared in Jones (2008)."]

Could not help myself recalling the nonsense of 'knowledge management' by Tom Wilson (2002), which as always provoked great discussions and food for thought in my journey.

Feb 8, 2011

Common charger

Common charger for mobile phones in Europe:
"Europe's major mobile phone manufacturers have now agreed to adopt a universal charger for data-enabled mobile phones sold in the EU and as of 2011 you will only need one charger for all."
Now just imagine the even bigger relief (individuals, environment, and industry), if for all the technological artefacts that we have (and carry) there was an Universal Common Charger and what it would mean for personal information management (PIM)!

[Note to self: connect to cases accounts of recharging and electric power needs]

Feb 1, 2011

Technology interference in data collection, transcription and analysis

Another number of the Forum Qualitative Social Research is out, and although just gave a superficial reading to the table of contents and one of the contributions, the article by Jeanine Evers seem to answer some of my questions and issues when dealing with the huge amount of visual data (mainly photos) that I've collected for my research:
Evers, Jeanine C. (2011). From the Past into the Future. How Technological Developments Change Our Ways of Data Collection, Transcription and Analysis [94 paragraphs]. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung / Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 12(1), Art. 38.
The whole issue is dedicated to «Discussions on Qualitative Data Analysis Software by Developers and Users», which should be of interest for many people doing qualitative research and/or developing technological tools for qualitative analysis, reporting «The KWALON Experiment»:
"The KWALON Experiment consisted of five developers of Qualitative Data Analysis (QDA) software analysing a dataset regarding the financial crisis in the time period 2008-2009, provided by the conference organisers. Besides this experiment, researchers were invited to present their reflective papers on the use of QDA software. This introduction gives a description of the experiment, the "rules", research questions and reflective points, as well as a full description of the dataset and search rules used, and our reflection on the lessons learned."