Yesterday, the Internet Research 9.0 conference got going at IT University in Copenhagen with a set of workshops. I participated as a
mentat mentor, and I’m not sure how much the doctoral students got out of it, but I learned a great deal. It’s an interesting way of meeting academically, since we tend to deliver “finished product” at conferences, rather than ideas and works in progress–even in sessions labeled explicitly as meant for work in progress.
This morning I presented in the first slot on the first day of the program. Being the first presentation of the day is never a good thing–folks aren’t there and when they are they are not awake–but better the first day than the last! I’ve already posted my own presentation, as well as the beginning of a series describing how I did the research. The presentation went, OK, I guess, but there were not many questions–in fact, I was worried that there would be none–so either the presentation sucked a bit, or they were just stunned by it. I fear, through my read of the audience that it fell a bit flat.
The advantage to going first is now it is done, and it leaves me to be able to be an observer to a greater degree and enjoy others’ presentation. The first of the remaining papers in my session, by Marianne van den Boomen, talks about communities and networks as metaphors for online discussion. Her argument is that such metaphors (and particularly the community metaphor) has a long history, and one that brings with it notions that are not at all reflective of the divided attention on the web. (As an aside, she mentioned a book I want to look up for possible use in my undergrad class: Networking with Bodies and Machines). This was a very nice overview of the problem of metaphors, and given some of my interest in metaphorical thinking and the internet, it was great to see it well handled. I recommended yesterday that students should avoid the entire concept of community, since it was so tied up in such debates. Nonetheless, as a thinking tool, the “network” and the “community” is an interesting approach.
Andrew Cox presented a paper on the nature of Flickr groups: how do people use this. Previous work shows little use of groups, little group loyalty, and little cross-posting of photos. This was largely an exploratory paper, establishing some metrics, and being able to provide a classification of group types, and the various participation in the groups. It’s a useful collection, but isn’t entirely clear what it shows, or how it generalizes beyond Flickr. I may have missed this, however.
Andra Siibak presented an analysis of self-presentation on rate.ee a site used by Estonian youth for social networking and dating. She analyzed the photos on the site, as well as surveying users. She showed an interesting break between what people say are important and how they depict themselves in their images.