#daLIVE Trace, Target, Analyze, Synthesize

to trace dissertations that focus on topics similar to mine i decided to run a search on hy e-theses database. here are the keywords and search results :

digital culture, [social media, action,] teacher, narrative  [7] 9
digital culture, [social media, action,] teacher, narrative, metaphor 3 [3]

Hy e-theses database : mysearch

Out of 9 search results i chose to review two master’s theses and one doctoral dissertation (Faculty of Arts,  Social Sciences, and Behavioral Sciences respectively).

Ferica, Imy (2012).  Understanding TED as Alternative Media, Master’s Thesis, Faculty of Social Sciences, HY  https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/34133

This choice is driven by my interest in the different expressions of the digital and these definitely play a defining role in the shaping of digital culture. in this study Ferica investigates how alternative media build a sustainable civil society movement through incorporating dominant values in achieving alternative media goals. Calls this a hybrid approach and argues that it also affects the ways alternative media serve the community, promote democracy and prompt social changes.

Ferica judges that a critical realist approach will help unfold the ways the media work ‘in order to encourage informed action aimed at eradicating barriers to equity and justice’ (Deacon, 1999, p. 10); and describes the methodological steps taken as ethnographic actions. These are translated into offline interviews, offline participant observations, online observations, and textual analysis of online content.

The argument is that the ethnographic plan targets “the symbolic meaning embedded in products”. What is not made clear, however, is whether in the meaning of ‘products’ observations and interviews are covered. Or is online content the issue exclusively? More questions then come forward: whose symbolic meaning does Imy set out to explore? Why is the concept of ‘digital artifact’ left out?

I understand i am stretching out here while this is only a short essay on data analysis.

In order to deal with the vast amount of data Imy sets out to construct a map and re-arranges random concepts into new contexts; uses coding or indexing and explains:

‘Coding helped me to label, separate, compile, and organize data into interrelated causal concepts and categories. I created some general theoretical connections between the concepts and categories, as well as how they relate to the literature from the conceptual framework chapter. Henceforth, I produced the following qualitative data analysis framework’.

The framework is indeed a good technique to navigate the data creating a connection map and I can see Imy’s point that further interpretation is required to explain the interconnections and to justify the findings. But I cannot really find evidence of how the deeper analysis and the interpretation needed -and this is how Imy puts it- are performed.

Read the discussion of findings, liked the arguments and the connections with literature. Still, keep thinking: Do i miss a point here?

Tiainen, Katriina (2012). A Genre Analysis of Academic Research Blogs, Master’s Thesis, Faculty of Arts, HY  https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/37012

here is another master’s thesis and, yes, the choice draws upon the ‘digital’ again:
the digital artifact as genre and possible ways to perform this type of analysis

Katriina’s argument is convincing, the reading is captivating, and here is how she ‘frames’ the reader:

‘There has been extensive research on different academic genres …, but, being a rather new phenomenon, academic research blogs have not been the focus of many genre analyses.’

And goes on to argue for the study’s conception as an entity to fill the gap existing in the literature concentrated on some particular feature of the genre, for example on the reasons why academics blog or the practice of hyperlinking.

Provides valuable insight into how blogging evolves into an academic genre:

‘This understanding of the importance of creating a presence of oneself on the Internet has paved the way for many academics to start writing a scientific blog of their own.
In these blogs, academics can disseminate and discuss their research interest in their own terms, exchange their ideas and opinions with peers or lay people, or take part in an online debate. Luzón (2009: 75) suggests that blogs are “gaining momentum as one of most versatile tools for online scholarly communication”. In this study, I aim at shedding some light into this novel phenomenon of blogs created and maintained by researchers.’

This is pretty close to my understanding of blogging and adds to my idea of digital artifact and how to process the data i have collected from Facebook.

‘First of all, the capabilities offered by computer network technology are reconfiguring the ways texts are produced and understood, giving an interesting setting for investigating the new genres of the World Wide Web. Second, being a very popular mode of online writing, blogs can be considered an interesting online genre to analyse, because they highlight the affordances of hyperlinking and increased possibilities of multimodality not present in printed texts.’

Another captivating moment of the study is the way carrying out a genre analysis of academic research blogs is justified. Katriina constructs a solid theoretical basis:

‘I will conduct the analysis of my data by following Bhatia’s (1993) approach to genre analysis. … So, in the present study, the initial placing of the genre-texts in a situational context is easier when one has basic knowledge of the academic communities and their writing conventions, as well as Internet language, computer-mediated communication and blogs as a genre…’

The 4-step argument she proposes is an interesting plan :

‘These are the analysis of discourse communities, communicative purpose and the formal features of structure and language. The data for the analysis of discourse communities, communicative purpose and structural features was obtained through content analysis of the blogs as a whole, including boilerplate texts and comment sections. The linguistic features were analysed through a statistical corpus study of the text bodies of each blog entry.’

Really hooked up by Katriina’s thesis. Her process of analysis echoes part of my readings of Ricoeur’s and Habermas’s work. 

‘In order to situate the genre of academic research blogs in a discourse community, I analysed the demographic characteristics of the blog authors. … Next, the overall communicative purposes of the blogs were coded. … The structural analysis of the blogs was carried out by selecting appropriate structural features’

Kynäslahti, Heikki (2001). Act Locally, Th/Link Translocally : An Ethnographic View of the Kilpisjärvi Project, FBS, Department of Teacher Education  https://helda.helsinki.fi/handle/10138/20051
Going for another ethnography does not come as a surprise.
I am an ethnographer, I assume, it only comes natural!!!
This study is an even less structured ethnography than Imy’s.
Heikki explains: ‘A certain lack of structure is typical of ethnographic study… In my research the interplay between theoretical elaboration, fieldwork with its data gathering, and data analysis has, perhaps, been even more vivid than in most educational ethnographic inquiries. This is how I sense the situation myself. The reason, I think, is that the field of media education is experiencing continuing rapid development, not least because of the expansion of information and communication technology.’

The choice for constant analysis is grounded in theory and the interplay between gathering, analysing and theorising acknowledged as a fundamental element.

Nevertheless, a framework for analysis is not provided.

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