Tuesday, December 28, 2010
As I mentioned in my earlier entry on fieldwork, WiserEarth (www.wiserearth.org) become my "field". It is social networking site with over 45 thousand registered users and hundreds of different groups and initiatives. WiserEarth is often compared to Facebook - WiserEarth have what Facebook is lacking, a common goal, not merely collecting as many friends as possible, but also a vision of social change. Behind the building of this platform is the organisation Natural Capital Insitute (NCI), and its founder - the famous Paul Hawken (environmentalist and author of many books including Blessed Unrest: How the largest Movement in the world Came into Being, and Why No One Saw It Coming.) WiserEarth vision is to work as One, to unite people around a common goal, mobilize people and come up with solutions. Gather stories of success, collaborate, discuss and gather groups of like minded.
As a newbie and researcher in WE one is overwhelmed with all the possibilities, all the activity going on. Which group should I join? How do I know that this is the right for me? How could I understand this massive community? Is it possible to perform reserach here? Who should I talk to and so on. My strategy initially was to select a few groups, join them and share my thoughts and hopes around my research. I choosed around 3-4 and joined them, introduced myself in different discussions/chat. I was also soon invited in a pair of new groups by people who found me and my profile (where I presented myself in pretty much the same style as in this blog) and soon I had a constant stream of updates coming to my inbox. As soon as I had become familiar with some of the groups I started to introduce myself to individuals I found interesting (especially persons with knowledge about technology, activism and peace but also sustainability, WE and social media). It only took about a week to get to know the friendly atmosphere that is significant for WE (at least for the groups I´m a member of), but my impression of the platform "culture" was that it was a bit messy. A lot of people was members in a variety of groups and a lot of groups had interesting discussions. Still, it seemed like a lot of groups had activities outside WE as well (and they only used WE for contacts). I missed the coordination of action and thoughts (even though some groups inside WE most certainly tries to solve some of the major problems in the world) in WE as a whole, that is, the vision of the platform and the members acting as a whole.
Interviews in anthropology and ethnology is seen as a rich resource of informations and give us a valuable insight in how people perceive and interpret the world. My first interviews via skype and facebook was planned and performed about two weeks after my first entry on WE and they took around 2 hours each. It was very interesting interviews ranging over a wide variety of different questions. I soon understood that my research focus was of great interest but also that my quest for the perfect online innovative collaboration platform could´nt be performed over a 10 week period (especially not since it took 2 weeks to find WE and expert informants). Many of my informants was experts in their area and gave me valublae insights and tips about building a community. It is by now very clear that a community in the style of the ProPeace Platform is (and must be) a long (and slow) process but also that many organisations and persons around the world is interested in the creation of this kind of platform.
A community of communites
In a netnographic perspectives, one should choose a vibrant community with members focused around one topic/interest. WE is really a community of communites and could also be compared with a marketplace or a city square with different discussiongroups (all interesting in their own ways). My informants gave me insights in their own professional lives, both online and offline, inside WE and outside. They have given me information about how one can think around community-building but also how one can think around peace and mobilisation of people towards action. My netnographic material consists of 6-7 deep interviews (that is qualitative interviews ranging from 1-2 hours), e-mails, transcripts from various forum discussions and texts from and about WE. Even though I have a very richmaterial, I don´t think that I have the key to how to build the perfect ProPeace Platform. But I do think that I have many valuable tips and strategies, metaphors (which works as models in how to think about building and maintaining a community) but also what doesn´t work and what one could avoid (here technical discussions and forums for improvements in WE has been a rich resource).
The stakeholders in this research is not only myself and TFF but also members of WE and more specifically my informants, of whom many have said that they are very interested in my future results. I have also been invited to share my results and work with other organisations in their work. When it comes to social change, I think this is very doable, especially since this is not about a competition, but rather about cooperation.
My research will be presented to The Transnational Foundation for Peace and Future Research in January 2011. I´m in my analysis phase right now and have a lot of material to transcribe, decode, translate and analyse. The final product will take the form of a strategy for how TFF should think around the building of The ProPeace Platform (that is, it will be a recipe around how one can create an online culture of propeace and collaboration and initiate people to participate in this creation). I will update my blog (more frequently) with more refelctions around my analysis and the future work.
Friday, December 3, 2010
I went to a seminar on thursday at my departement (Departement for Cultural Sciences) at Lund University. The guestlecturer was Professor Fritz Betz, a sociologist from University of Applied Sciences in Burgenland. He spoke about concepts such as eCollaboration, Enterprise 2.0 and social media and the focus evolved around the internal use of these concepts which was illustrated by examples from his previous projects in 4 different companies.
According to Betz there seems to exist a kind of technological determinism among companies, which means that they want to implement eCollaboration tools and features from the social web eg. blogs, Wikis, forums and so on in order to achieve innovation, sociality and mobilisation. How this should be done, except from buying and installing eCollaboration tools, is often vauge and blurry among descionmakers within companies. The mere existence of social media is believed to create collaboration. According to Betz, this was only true to some extent within the companies where he had performed his research. Employees didn´t use the tools in the same way that they used social media privately. Often the communication was limitied to e-mail system or external forums (such as wikis).
Monday, November 29, 2010
- www.mypitch.com (crowdsourcing)
- relevant, they relate to your research focus and questions
- active, thay have recent and regular communications
- interactive, they have a flow of comunications between participants
- substanstial, they have a critical mass of communications and an energetic feel
- hetereogeneous, they have a number of different participants
- data-rich, offering more detailed or descriptively rich data
Wednesday, October 27, 2010
Tuesday, October 26, 2010
Monday, October 25, 2010
This is my time plan for the project: ”Peace in Web 2.0”, which may be changed or updated in the future (in that case I will notify you). If there are any questions or if you have any feedback, don´t hesitate to e-mail me on firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment directly in this blog!
Pre-phase (June – September):
1st meeting with TFF
Specialization courses (15 hp) in Informatics at Umeå University ("Öppenhet på internet" and "Web 2.0: Begrepp, teknik och Innovation")
2nd meeting with TFF
Meeting with the TFF board
3rd meeting with TFF
Phase 1: Fieldwork preparation (18th -27th October)
- Start recruiting informants: When one or more webpages/portals have been selected, the recruiting process should be initiated as soon as possible.
Deliver revised Project Plan, time budget and status-report on 22th October
Phase 2: Fieldwork (28th October-12th November)
- Commence the netnography: This part includes the entree and participant observation in various social media, a number of qualitative interviews (preferably at least 5) online and in real life (irl) and, depending on time - an internet survey about usage and experiences of a social media platform.
- (Absence, 1st November) Lecturing in Örnsköldsvik for Youth Against Racism
- Continue the recruiting process
- Going trough written sources
- (Absence, 11-12th November) Participation at "Innovation In Mind 2010", http://www.innovationinmind.se/
Phase 3: Processing data (15-19 November)
- Selection of literature and sources: Which articles, webpages, books etc. should be included in the final presentation?
- (Absence 16th November) Participation at ”Jag bor i Malmö”-(A youth conference)
- Transcribing interviews
- Compiling surveys
Phase 4: Analysis ( 22 November – 8 December)
- Analyzing processed data
- Idea generating process
- Deliver status-report on 26th of November
Phase 5: Production and Visual Presentation (9-17 December)
- Producing action-plan (with suggestions) and a Visual presentation for the future ProPeace Platform
Final presentation: 17th December
- Follow-up meeting with TFF in January