Week 3: Capstone Proposal

Research question/Argument:

My question that I will be answering in this research is “How do people interact differently according to each digital environment?”. With my project, my aim is to look at a variety of online communities of which social interaction takes place. While doing so, I will be observing patterns of behavior in each environment. I want to know what sort of factors set different standards for social etiquette from a video game realm such as minecraft, to reddit, to facebook, to twitter, to tumblr, and all the way to 4chan. I have interest in this particular topic because after exploring the web I want to understand the underlying cause for such diversity in numerous digital realms. Each location has their own special nuances and culture. I will look at underlying causes that facilitate these different behaviors in each area.

Through this research I hope show the audience the diversity of online culture. I hope to show readers that the internet is not just one huge conglomerate entity, and rather it is like a dispersed set of tribes. Each with their own set of unique customs and memes. I will show how people on these realms operate differently according game mechanics, objectives, and available posting tools. My aim is to showcase my experience with each to the audience to allow them to relive it for themselves.

What are your data and how are you collecting it?

The data that I will be collecting for this project will be acquired by surveying each of these individual realms online. For each of these realms I will take time for each to go visit and take down my observations as notes. I will first be looking at the initial impression from how the realm is presented and how the site operates. Then I will move on to how users utilize the tools such as posting ability, up voting, liking, chat features, and emotes made available to them for each place. I will take time to examine user generated content such as blog posts, comments, game artifacts, as well as real time conversations.

While combing through this content I will also examine how the realm’s moderation, tools, and content delivery all impact user interaction. After I have taken down these notes, I will also go about interviewing the inhabitants to see their thoughts. Through these interviews, I hope to get a deeper sense into their understanding of their surroundings and why they perpetrate behavior that either follows or contradicts the norms. Some research journals that I may look at particularly would be those that pertain to human behavior and how it is effected by their surrounding environments. I may also look at journals where other researchers may have done a traditional ethnography of different countries. Through this, I may be able to examine different communities and compare them as if they were distant, separate offline communities. I hope give my research a solid foundation from which I can draw ideas.

Project presentation details:

For my data, I plan to take many screen shots and perhaps videos to give a sense of the authentic experience at each of these realms. These displays will give the audience highlights and examples of how people interact online in each community. I will perhaps create videos to give a visual sense of how the environment looks for outsiders that are not familiar with these places. By recording interviews with individuals, I hope keep the audience engaged with experiences from real players and posters. I will incorporate all this material into a slide show to help substantiate my findings.

Questions for feedback:

1) Are there any other online environments I should consider exploring in order to get the most diverse set of places to showcase differences in culture?

2) Are there any other interesting ways I can go about gathering data for my research and findings?

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3 thoughts on “Week 3: Capstone Proposal

  1. Since you have a very broad topic I think that it might be a good idea to narrow down the certain communities that you want to explore. This could be anything from the social media the user chooses to the different types of cultured communities that exist online. I think that if you do research on all cultural communities that it would take you an incredible amount of time to do all the data collecting. So keep it simple and do cultures that you are interested in or want to find more about.

    An interesting way to gather this data besides just giving a survey is to look at blogs and discussion boards. Take the data that you find and use codes that you find are constantly repeated in this culture. It can be norms like the language, how they write, is it grammatically correct and etc.

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  2. I also agree that because your topic is a little broad by choosing 3 or 4 specific realms of the internet you will be more organized and it will become easier to compare to each other after collecting data. Some other realms of the internet you might suggest looking into could be Second Life (used in another DCIM class that was very different then any internet environment I’ve ever been on). Another could be Tumblr because their users seem to be extremely devoted. Another aspect you could potentially look into is the way people in different countries and cultures use these realms.

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