Apr 112013

I’m starting to learn how to use Nvivo as a tool for gathering online data for my research project. It’s taken a while for me to get all the elements in to place. Firstly my MacBook wasn’t powerful enough to run Windows via Fusion VM Ware, so I asked for an upgrade, and the university was very supportive and did so. This means I’m now running Windows 8 as a Bootcamped OS, and then will flick between Mac and Windows as I need to. I’ve now installed a copy of Nvivo on the Windows partition and need to learn how it works so that I can start immersing myself in the chosen field sites. At this point I’m not entirely sure how this will work, but it’s probably going to involve using Nvivo, MS OneNote, MS Internet Explorer and Firefox with Zotero. The aim is to record and catalogue a selection of the online activities that are taking place in the collaborative communities on the web.

Hopefully I can really kick-start the process of collecting data and being part of the community media groups that I’m participating in. I’m not an expert in Participant Observation, so I will be learning a lot as I progress and move forward. I’m happy to proceed with caution and take my time, because I don’t want to make mistakes. The issues of confidentiality and managing any likely risk to participants, is an important one that I am increasingly mindful of. There can be a lot of trust placed in the researcher, and people tell me things that are significant to them and their relationships with other people in the community media networks I’m investigating. I have to ensure that I respect and protect that trust and ensure that no harm comes to the participants I interact with.

In using a this Computer Aided Qualitative Research Application in order to support the gathering of data from online interactions, and to develop an analysis protocol that ties in with the precepts and conventions of Ethnographic study, particularly in the form of Participant Observations. The key principles of this methodology are identifies by Hine (2005) and Kozinets (2010), who points out that “Social networking sites and virtual worlds carry the complex markers of many cultures and both manifest and forge new connections and communities.” (Kozinets, 2010, p.7). The trick is to capture this information in sufficient detail and develop it into a coherent narrative that describes the situation being studies, is fair and ethical in the way that data is collated, and forms a base from which social theories of engagement, role playing, identity formation and resource management might be better understood.

I’m really looking forward to this study being the main focus of my life for the next twelve months. I intend to write regular blogs and make observations as I progress, and will welcome comments and observations as I progress.


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