Texting my Dream

Please tag this blog post “inquiryprojectproposal”, “textingmydream”, and “dreaming”.

This activity is designed to make your chosen digital topic into a primary text, which is our way  for defining a data set that can be analyzed, studied, and can be translated into a research agenda. (Here is my post for more on primary texts.) It’s a way of finding a specific example of a digital phenomenon, so that you can start talking about it using evidence rather than vague generalities. There’s also the problem, as many of you know, that digital phenomena tend to change over time, often with little warning. My Twitter page, for instance, changes from day to day because it’s a timeline, as does a Facebook or Instagram feed. So it would really be much more useful to talk about a static text rather than one that keeps changing, moving the goalposts.

For example:

  • Let’s say I am interested in the ways the concept space called Pinterest has developed a set of interesting behaviors in its users, merely by the ways they can associate links next to one another (pinning them to a page). I can’t simply talk about Pinterest in its totality, because where does my evidence come from? So one good way of proceeding is to take a screenshot of a web object to save it for always. It would be better to have a specific pinterest scrapbook in mind, and for it to be frozen in tiem rather than too wriggling about slipperily. But on the other hand I shouldn’t just select one at random. It would be better to choose a pinterest board that has something to do with the reason I am interested in pinterest in the first place.
  • I follow a football blog for the University of Michigan (my colleague Dr. Coats’s alma mater ). The users of this blog have, over time, developed a series of tribal inside jokes and shorthands; they all seem to know a lot more than I do about defensive schemes and recruiting criteria. “Mgoblog.com” is a lot more specific than “sports blogs” if what I am interested in is tribal fandom as expressed on the internet. But far better would be for me to choose a blog post that really crystallizes for me those inside jokes and community norms and study that.
  • Suppose I am interested in the ways social media sites collect stats off of users and what they do with those stats. Each of these sites track those stats in related but slightly different ways; here is an example that Dr. Campbell tweeted out Monday 6/16/14 of an app that will gauge your personality traits based on your social media use. The news article is less of interest than the actual app, so the screenshot should be of someone’s results.

So here’s what to do in several paragraphs (at least two):

1.)    Define your primary text at present. If there is a static, stable link, link to it; otherwise take a screenshot and post that along with your description. Say as much as you can, and be as precise as possible, about what this thing is (especially if the particular example stands in for a larger pattern or series of similar things).

2.) Why is the way you’re approaching this text worth pursuit?  What more do we need to know about it the way you’re conceptualizing it, and why?