Friday, December 3, 2010

Studying the Internet

Both Hine's and Orgad's articles on studying the Internet were really interesting. The Internet has created a whole new area of research methods. This topic also reminded me of an article I read for 1001 by Miller and Slater called The Internet: An Ethnographic Approach. This article was revolutionary for how Internet is studied today because it discusses seeing the Internet as integral to society and not as a virtual reality. Researchers are slowly developing a framework for analyzing and conducting online research and making it seem legitimate.

A small-scale example of online and offline worlds coinciding in research was how I conducted my previous research on Afghan-Canadian youth. Facebook actually allowed me to conduct this research. I was able to use it to approach potential participants. Basically, I sent messages to members of an Afghan Association in Hamilton outlining my research and asking if they would be willing to meet with me and be interviewed. Because this is a marginalized group I could not ethically approach them in person or by telephone but through the Internet it was more annonymous and they could simply not respond to me if they did not want to be interviewed. This was very difficult for me to describe in my ethics approval application and in my final research paper. Clearly, the framework for online research is still being created.

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