What do I do when I do Twitter – Summary

“Approaching a dead end” by will_cyclist https://flickr.com/photos/willj/14477194158 is licensed under CC BY-NC

If you’re going to undertake a research study, you have to become adept at recognising when you’ve gone down a dead-end. You then need to be prepared to retrace your steps and consider alternative pathways. This happens in your thinking, your writing and sometimes even your speaking. On this occasion, it was after completing a map/chart which supposedly summarised the discussion in the previous post. I needed a single-page summary for my supervisors; they’re not in a position to read through my 2000+ word rambles. In any case, I suspect I can’t afford to spare (waste?) 2000 words of my thesis for what ought to be a much more brief section.Read More »

What do I do when I do Twitter #2

“steps” by mr. rollers https://flickr.com/photos/mr-rollers/8258681682 is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND

In following up my previous post, I now need to outline what the actual steps are which constitute my ethnographic approach on Twitter. My supervisor suggested I might produce it in the form of a summary which another researcher could use to conduct a similar study, however, I feel the need to set things out long-form in the first instance.Read More »

What do I do when I do Twitter? #1

“still asking questions” flickr photo by stewit https://flickr.com/photos/98277793@N00/100512763 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Another outcome from the last supervisory meeting was that it would be useful for me to produce a summary of what I actually do when I’m on Twitter – how does my activity generate data? In a conventional ethnographic approach, one would be attempting to answer the broad question “What’s going on here?”, doubtless supplemented by who, how, where, when and why. If the setting is the digital realm, those questions could be the same, but what one would attend to might be rather different.Read More »

Learning … loosely?

“Sealion” flickr photo by wwarby https://flickr.com/photos/wwarby/16211398843 shared under a Creative Commons (BY) license

I was catching up with episode three of Loose Learners whilst out running yesterday. Mariana and John were discussing the (mis?)use of social media for sharing, or what for some might be more accurately termed bragging, selling or self-promoting. It was suggested that people come to Twitter with different models of how they intend to use it. Some see it as a purely broadcasting medium, others amplify the content of others, whilst many see it as a place to interact. Perhaps it’s not quite so clear cut and many participants do some of each at different times? I tend to see the ‘fine line’ between bragging and sharing that Mariana and John were suggesting, as an awful lot wider … and fuzzier!. That fuzziness arises as a combination of the ‘intent’ of the user that Mariana described, and the expectations of the recipient. A particular user might have a specific purpose in mind when tweeting something out, but whether that’s perceived as sharing, bragging or self-promotion will also depend on the internal compass within the recipient and what they find acceptable.Read More »


“Summit of Hardknott Pass” by IaninSheffield https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/9361797530 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

In the briefing notes I wrote, it should have just been one more supervisory meeting. I intended to cover the recent activity in which I’d been involved and that which was forthcoming, followed by a progress report on my data collection. There were a couple of things which had arisen that I was keen to talk through and seek advice. However, things took a different turn when a thought occurred and I asked what would the implications be if I wanted to submit in time to attend the November 2018 graduation ceremony. Given my October 2016 start, a three year programme would take me to September 2018 finish; rather tight for a November ceremony. So our discussion then shifted to considering the implications, first of which was the timeline in order to fulfill that.Read More »

Crisis? What crisis?

“Ethnographic travels” by IaninSheffield https://flickr.com/photos/ianinsheffield/34518811716 is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

As I prepare for my supervisory meeting this week, I’m reminded of the previous meeting when I offered  this rendering (It’s a much smaller version of the full one and I’m far from happy with the way it displays what I want, but … well, compromise!). It’s an attempt to show some of the activity I’ve been engaged in as a participant observer, but also a little more than that. It serves several functions, providing:

  • a visual record of what came to my attention and whether I chose to interact;
  • direct hyperlinks back to the tweets, sites, posts or comments i.e. the original data which attracted my gaze;
  • a precis of the information/data behind that data point;
  • my observational comments – why it attracted my attention, what I thought and what I did; and
  • a kickstart of the process of analysis.

This sits alongside a slightly more conventional set of field notes, although much more brief than the notes which might usually accompany field work. I didn’t see them as needing to capture all the rich detail of the people in view – what they were doing and trying to achieve, what and how they communicated and so on. My notes certainly bear little resemblance to those of traditional ethnography, but then this isn’t a traditional ethnography.Read More »

Ethnomethodology – everyday and commonsense talk? Really?

“How to exit an elevator” flickr photo by ekurvine https://flickr.com/photos/ekurvine/5054438471 shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

Another of the areas that I was advised to take a look at during my last doctoral supervision meeting was that of ethnomethodology. I guess that was on the basis of how I was describing my unfolding approach. I have to confess that, other than being aware of the term, I knew little else about ethnomethodology, so here’s a brief summary of what I’ve found.Read More »


By Mysid (Own work. Self -made in Blender & Inkscape.) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0) or GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
As I was writing the preceding post in which I introduced chronotopes and the notion of timespace, as a former physics teacher, I couldn’t help but reflect on Bakhtin’s inspiration, Einstein’s spacetime. I suspect that after poaching the idea of time and space being interwoven and co-constitutive, Bakhtin took the physics no further. I wondered therefore whether there might be other aspects of the physics concept that might be usefully ported across to the sociolinguistic.Read More »

Chronotope … sadly, not a Dr Who villain

Every tweet has a timestamp embedded within it. Posts on blogs are (usually) arranged chronologically. One quick click on any Wikipedia page provides access to the history of edits leading to the current version. Time seems to have a much greater significance on the Web than it does in print media. Sure, books and magazines have a publishing date, but that tends to be at the top level; a cut off time when the article went to print, rather than the time(s) when the text was authored. I knew that at some stage I would need to apply myself to the temporality of learning online and through Twitter, and when I came across the idea of the chronotope, it seemed like the right … time?Read More »

Another bit of paper?

I’ve had this certificate for a couple of weeks now, but have been rather reticent about writing a post. None of the previous postgraduate qualifications I’ve gained (a PostGraduate Certificate in Education and two Masters degrees) was ‘graded.’ But this one was. Merit. More than a Pass, but not a Distinction. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about sharing that in public. If there had been no gradations, I know I wouldn’t have felt like this, nor indeed if I’d got a distinction. So there’s clearly something in the grading system that bothers me … and in me not achieving the top grade.Read More »