Saturday, June 23, 2012

why (I'm still) blogging a phd

It puts me into a conversation- with myself and with others.
In many ways its similar to why write but there are some differences also.
I might have journalled: pen to paper... but i choose this medium because of its capacity for more:
1. My blog has the capacity to link- temporally and spatially. Hyperlinking past with present, spanning distance whether local or global, but it also a space where difference and similarity can be accessed at the touch of a button. Its a space for weaving; for networking in a Latourian sense.
2. My blog connects me with people i might never get to converse with otherwise. >I live in New Zealand, travel to conferences is extremely expensive. Blogging democratizes voice somewhat: When i respond to an article and the author of said article comes on my blog to further the conversation i am engaged with a community of thinkers otherwise denied me (see for example For all the reasons espoused by Pat Thomson expands on in her blog of why phd students should be funded to attend conferences
, sometimes blogging is as close as i can get.
Blogging expands my literacy: A digital literacy in the sense that Lankshear and Knowbel describe in that my engagement mediated here privileges participation over publishing. And a space for relationship- having a place from which to be, to stand and to speak as it were: these are my connections/ this is me. Blogging provides me with Turangawaewae (a NZ Maori word that allows me to claim lineage, and voice, and a right to be heard. My identity is formed here.
3. My blog is a space for thoughtfulness, a playful space where the thoughts of a moment are being spun in the writing. Its the antecedent step to my more academic publishing self.
4. My blog is also a space where my emotional life as an academic can also be held. I have engaged in this space with not only my intellect but with my soul and have found support for vulnerability and compassion and affirmation to be extended. (for example This is about a deliberate endeavour to see and to add to a space for meeting the very human needs of connecting, of love and belonging as well as actualizing
5. Being beyond a textual form it's a space for creative engagement prompting the juxtapositioning of words and text; a space for allegory.
6. And because my phd is about change and the performances associated with emergent technologies, blogging provides an insider experience.

In more concrete and practical applications:
7. Blogging has enabled my co-presenting in an international forum (see for example V
8. It provides me links to otherwise unknown of resources because people here in a blogging world share; its what they do. Expertise and knowledge get held in the connections. A radical shift in how learning might be contained not so much individually but distributed.
9. I believe it was a significant factor in my last promotion- providing novel evidence of impact factor and of scholarship activities. To be cited, i need to be situated and sighted, and being cited is a power base in academia.

An addition:
It was also a space for finding my own voice.
In followinn in my child's footsteps i treated it as a fanfiction/fanfact space. Here i wrote as if writing a further chapter for Sherry Turkle's book Evocative objects; Things we think with.

Lankshear, C., & Knobel, M. (2007). Researching new literacies: Web 2.0 practices and insider perspectives. E-Learning and Digital Media, 4(3), 224-240. Retrieved from doi:10.2304/elea.2007.4.3.224
Latour, B. (2011). Networks, societies, spheres: Reflections of an actor-network theorist. International Journal of Communication, 5, 796-810.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Embodied knowledge; or how I took a taste of ANT and then it swallowed me

This is a story reminiscent of Roald Dahl's James and the Giant which a small boy, a peach and insects are transformed in a world of wonder; one in which new reals get made.

Early on in my PhD I had thought the making of 'new knowledge' might involve the putting together of "this with that" as a form of academic alchemy, but then discovered this into that would not go.
The learning of irreconcilable differences involved trialling various theories on change with ANT. My supervisor was amazingly tolerant as i learned that such combinations led to irreconcilable differences between theories that clashed. I am grateful i was able to learn this and not told to simply not go there.
I attempted a reading of Diffusion of innovation with E M Rogers but the lineal assumptions didn't sit right. Nor did Schon, Lewin, Schein and this became a literature review.
I also tried some methodological assistance with phenomenology via Max Van Mannen but the essentialism was incompatible. I had some prior experience with critical social theory via Habermas, but the metanarrative and thinking i would know better than participants clashed with ANT. As did grounded theory...
I tasted ANT (actor-network theory) as a curiosity to be entertained...and then it swallowed me whole 8-)

This theory is not about perspectives. Were I to sit and view from any of the participants in my study what was going on, the experience is lived differently. I can only tell my own story of my engagements with those involved. Partial in every meaning of the word.
Donna Haraway describes the situated knowledge in terms of being inside the belly of the monster.
This is a radical point of difference to those that would attempt analysis via contextualism, such as Schatzki might, for to accept ANT is to accept that there is is no distance. I am consumed.

The embodiment of knowledge is also addresssed by Anne-marie Mol in the deceptively simply titled article: I eat an apple.

Haraway, D. (1992). The promises of monsters. A regenerated politics for inapprpriate/d others. In L. Grossberg, G. Nelson, & P. Treichler (Eds.), Cultural Studies (pp. 295-337). New York, NY: Routledge.

Mol, A. (2008). I eat an apple. On theorizing subjectivities. Subjectivity, 22, 28-37. Retrieved from

Schatzki, T. R. (2002). The site of the social: A philosophical account of the constitution of social life and change. University Park, PA: Pennsylvania State University Press.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

The difference between quantitative and qualitative research

Forever there seems to be a debate about the two and I am gob smacked by having a discussion with a positivist who seemed to think there is but one scientific method. So here's a provocation on how different the realities might be.

Here's one consideration of global warming demonstrated through the use of people's lived experiences as data as well as a visual ethnographic provocation to thoughtfulness.

It's an idiosyncratic representation.

In contrast here's how it is represented by the more positivist quantitative researchers:
This article points to the multiple research centres and claims "all" show that the Global surface temperature increased by 0.74 ± 0.18 °C (1.33 ± 0.32 °F) during the 100 years ending in 2005. Most conspicuously, according to the latest IPCC report the global surface temperature will likely to rise a further 1.1 to 6.4 °C (2.0 to 11.5 °F) during the twenty-first century.

Whose data is then backed up by multiple references to all the scientists of numerous countries, where repeated data provides validation. See

This cheeky little posting is not to be taken too seriously.
Global warming might be.

How data is presented is very much a function of the ontological politics at play with beliefs held that extend as fas as whether the use of 'I' and open acknowledgement of a situated researcher  has a place in formal writing. Please, I would like to put an end to the positivist belief of claiming objectivity. The question studies and the method of study are saturated with bias.

There are differences in the approaches that allow for the answering of different questions.

Qualitative research deals fundamentally in qualities: in experiences. This type of research is interested in how things are experienced. A core consideration is that the researcher experiences are also involved in what was studied; the how of this through to what is written, how it is written,  and what is and isn't written or disseminated. The experience of qualitative research is imbued with epistemologies of how knowledge is made and what counts as knowledge. Every person's experience is as valid as anothers, this severely restrains any claims for generalisations. Reflexivity is expected.

Quantitive research deals fundamentally in quantities; in number crunching, in statistics, and  addressing big data that allows for a probability (p value) index to support claims made.
 Through random sampling and attending to sample size a probability index generates a measure to assess the  level of confidence one might have in the findings of the research and in whether it might then have findings generalised to elsewhere.
A small p-value (typically ≤ 0.05) indicates strong evidence against the null hypothesis, so you reject the null hypothesis.
A large p-value (> 0.05) indicates weak evidence against the null hypothesis, so you fail to reject the null hypothesis.
A core consideration is that this method presents data as objective. There is an assumption of the data as separate to the researcher and so is written of with the absence of 'I' statements.

Obviously the two with their different epistemologies are difficult to reconcile. None the less, many people do with a "mixed-methods" approach. The clashing of philosophical underpinnings being subsumed with the value supposed from answering a question or issue from both the small scale of local experience as well as from the larger picture.

This link takes you to a slideshare where I have considered an area of interest (adverse events in the health sector) and considered how it might be studied in regard to these research methods. The slideshare was developed for a class I was teaching in called Methods of Research enquiry for undergraduate students from a variety of disciplines in a Health Faculty. The students needed to undertake a project as a group where they investigate a topic, consider the gaps in the literature and propose 2 research development plans, one qualitative, one quantitative.