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Reflecting on Academic Book Writing Month December 9, 2011

Posted by Sarah in progress, Public and Private in the Blogosphere.
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Well, I didn’t get even close to hitting my 30,000 word goal for the month of November.

Graph of AcBoWriMo progress 2011

AcBoWriMo Progress, November 2011

On the other hand, I made substantially more progress in terms of pure writing in November than I had in a really long time. For me, the first pass at writing is the hardest. It’s not that I’m a perfectionist, even. It’s just that I have trouble starting.

So far I’m having some pretty good success in keeping up the momentum that I built during November – I’ve been getting a decent amount of work done daily, whether it’s crunching numbers for the chapter that I’m focusing on right now, just spending time reading over my ethnographic data, or actually writing. I’ve got a deadline for a long abstract coming up on Monday (what sort of evil people make there be a research deadline in the middle of December? I could name names, but I won’t. Don’t you know I have a final to write, people‽) that is sharing time with the aforementioned final exam. And then onwards to the full paper to go with that long abstract, due the 6th of January.


no really, still alive November 11, 2011

Posted by Sarah in AoIR, progress.
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I went to IR12 and didn’t present, which was liberating. Had lots of fun, hurt my brain in new and creative ways as always.

I’m really pushing to finish. And I’m doing Ac(ademic) Bo(ok) Wri(ting) Month, which is a spin on NaNoWriMo. It’s good for me because getting started writing is always the hardest thing. I always get frustrated because my first drafts are utter crap (my husband is right at this very minute handing me a pretend phone and saying that the kettle is calling because whenever he laments having to start writing something I tell him to just get the first draft down and fix it in editing…) but once I get the first round of thoughts out I can turn it into things that are actually coherent, not to mention realizing where the holes and things are. The goal I’ve set myself is 30000 words this month, which is four chapters of 7500 words each (I picked 7500 because that’s the word limit on a journal submission that is top priority right now). So far… I’m not doing all that well, actually, because I keep getting distracted by data analysis.

AcBoWriMo Progress 11/11/11But it’s way more words than I’d written in the previous month, so I’ll take what I can get!

Data Coding Stimulus Package March 5, 2009

Posted by Sarah in progress.
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ZERO CODING DEBT!Ahem. See how there’s NO NUMBER next to the folder named “Un-Coded Blog Entries”? That’s right… after MONTHS of being behind on coding these data, I am CAUGHT UP as of this morning.  There were a couple of particularly pesky ones that languished there while I pondered and thought about how to code them.

The next folder down, the “Partially-Coded Blog Entries” are ones that I have coded but I don’t think I’m completely happy with the codes that I’ve chosen.  I’m paying down that debt as well, and trying really hard to pay it down faster than I create it.

The possible demise of Livejournal and what it means to me… January 7, 2009

Posted by Sarah in bloggers&blogging, progress.
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LiveJournal announced yesterday that they have cut a significant proportion (20%) of their US workforce (marketingvox story) and there has been much hand-wringing of the “where do we go from here?” sort amongst my LiveJournal friends.

For my personal blogging… I like LJ for the security features it provides, and some of what I post there probably would just never get written in any “public” forum if I didn’t have those features.  But for my personal blogging, I can live without it.  I can connect with friends on Facebook, I can blog here and at my hobby blog and at my kid’s blog and I can turn what has been my media consumption blog / personal website into the personal blog.  No big deal for me.  (I have archived my five years of LJ postings, though… I would hate to lose all of that.)

The dissertation, on the other hand…  65% of my dissertation participants use LiveJournal.  If LJ stops existing, I will have to figure out what to do.  Either I go with the three months of observational data that I have already (instead of six) or I will follow those folks to any new services they migrate to.  Either way, it will be something to talk to those LJ users about when the time comes for interviews!  Yesterday I was in a total panic about it; today I’m a bit more zen.  I have the data, so all will not be lost even if the service disappears at the end of the week like some of the doom and gloom folks were predicting yesterday.

Just to prove that I really am working on it… October 28, 2008

Posted by Sarah in progress.
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WorkThis is what I’ve been staring at all day. Well, permutations of this spreadsheet, anyway. These are my cleaned & coded data for the question about WHY survey respondents chose to categorize the blogosphere as public, private, both, or neither.  I have it broken out by blogging service as well as numbers for all of the respondents.  In case you’re more visually inclined, 63% of respondents classed it as “both”; 35% classed it as “public”, and 1% each said it was “private” or “neither”.


Don’t you feel smarter knowing that?

Coding Data September 19, 2008

Posted by Sarah in progress.
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I am slowly slogging through the coding of my survey data.  It is TEDIOUS in the extreme (though… let me plug the Coding Analysis Toolkit from QDAP, which is a lovely web-based tool for coding data) but it is still a very time-consuming process (at best, 4 hours to code about 900 items).

One of the hardest things for me has been coming up with good codes.  I mean, I know what I WANTED to get at with each question, but translating that into a reasonable set of codes (even allowing myself to choose multiple codes per unit) was sometimes an interesting process.

The question that has presented the greatest challenge has actually been the one in which I asked WHY people had categorized the blogosphere as a whole as public/private/both/neither.  I THOUGHT I knew what I wanted to get out of that question and sat down and developed a set of 10 codes based on a combination of my conception of the question and a relatively shallow perusal of the respondent’s answers.  When I started actually coding the data, though, I found myself shaking my head because the codes simply weren’t working… they weren’t lining up with what the respondents had said, and they certainly weren’t lining up with what I thought I wanted to get out of the question.

So I stopped, and I backed up.  I sat here in my office with my eyes closed and really asked myself what I wanted to get out of that question.  And I realized that I was trying to get at a LOT of things.  Within that question, I’m really asking about broader issues of public and private (is the blogosphere by definition public?  how does searchability play into that?  etc.), about blogging practices (do bloggers use friends-lock or other technological means of controlling access, do they deliberately avoid certain topics, do they obfuscate their offline identity?), and about the goals of blogging (to communicate with others, to convey information, to gain an audience).

So, wow.  That’s a lot of stuff from what I initially thought was a really simple question.  Now, though, I think I have a better set of codes, ones that are much more in line both with what the respondents said and with what I want from those responses.

I think the biggest thing I’ve learned from the data analysis process so far is just that.  Be willing to back up and start over if something isn’t making sense.  (Funny that I say the same thing to people who are impressed by my skills as a seamstress – “you just have to be willing to rip it out and start over if it isn’t working right.”  Why hadn’t I thought to apply that advice to my dissertation?)

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Academically Star-Struck December 7, 2007

Posted by Sarah in personal.
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A while back I contacted one of the major theorists upon whose work I’m basing my dissertation to request the text of a keynote speech he had given.  He wrote back quite quickly and promised the book chapter that the speech was based on (still in manuscript form) soon.  We bounced e-mails back and forth a bit and I hadn’t thought much about it in probably a month.  Got another e-mail from him yesterday saying he didn’t want to keep me waiting and included not only the text of the chapter we had discussed previously but also drafts of numerous other things he’s working on, and welcomes my comments, corrections, and suggestions on them all.

WELCOMES MY SUGGESTIONS!  As if!  (OK, probably he’s just being polite – but he certainly didn’t have to do a core dump of work-in-progress on me!)  Though, as Trine points out, perhaps I’ll know I’m ready to submit when I am finding holes in his work.

Bumping up my numbers… November 2, 2007

Posted by Sarah in Public and Private in the Blogosphere.
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My survey has been in the field for several months now (four and a bit, to be precise).  At the moment, I’m sitting at a very lopsided response rate in terms of the blogging service that my respondents are using – we’re talking 75% LiveJournal users, 7% Blogger/Blogspot users, 5% WordPress users, 3.2% “other” users (which includes a lot of people who use multiple services, and many of them reference LJ in their comments), and 2ish% Xanga, WordPress.com, MovableType/Typepad, and MySpace users.

So… if you have suggestions for how to bump up participation from other services, I’d love to hear them; I am not above spamming all sorts of places to get more responses.  And if you’re a blogger using another service, I’d love to hear from you!

For those who are curious about more numbers, 1460 people have begun the survey and 808 have completed it (and my committee was concerned about me having a big enough n!) for a 55.3% response rate so far.  I need to figure out what exactly SurveyMonkey considers “completed”, though, because on the order of 890 people have answered the closing questions on the last page of the survey.  (In any case, I feel save in saying that 800 < n > 900.)