Sunday, September 20, 2009

Triangulation nonsense

Let me begin by saying that Flick is crazy: who has ever heard of more than one researcher working on a qualitative paper at the same time? The idea is preposterous and I’m sure that brilliant reviewers will not let any of this more-than-one-researcher nonsense get published.
Now that that has been cleared up, I think the article was a nice little exposé of triangulation, what it means and how we should use it. My only question would be: how do we go about writing about triangulation in our research? Do only qualitative journals accept it as valid?
I think Pauwels brings up a very interesting discussion with the “virtual” versus “real” worlds. What he fails to mention is that, in many cases, people tend to like the virtual better because they can be whoever they want to be (due to the lack of face-to-face interaction: “identitiy play” on p.608) and they can completely avoid what he calls “potentially threatening forms of feedback” (p. 605). Baudrillard, for example, spoke of the virtual world as the same as giving each users its own vessel, which he can use to travel wherever he goes without having any physical contact with anything and anyone.
Representativity is another huge issue. The research we read is usually focused on Internet users and, I believe, that helps us forget that there are many non-users out there. Dr. Straubhaar conducted some research on this area last year and, if I remember correctly, 25% of the first-generation immigrants hadn’t even HEARD of the Internet.
The critique that Internet research is “still largely confined to textual data” (p. 607) has a lot to do with what we talked about in the last class: it’s easier. The call that the author makes to bring in more ethnography into Internet research instead of just looking at the pages themselves is brilliant. We are trying to study new phenomena using the same textual analysis that scholars have always used to analyze books. Isn’t the Internet more a way of life, a way of doing things and participating rather than a mass-media device? Shouldn’t we stop thinking about an online world and a real world and start thinking that we live, and do research, in the area where they meet and the “borders” become invisible?
The Belton piece was very interesting (I loved the “proof of the pudding is in the eating” deal on p. 634). Besides the fact that Mel was messed up in the head, the piece made me think that we think way too much about what TV is doing to our kids. That’s not to say that we should stop researching, but after reading the article and going over Cultivation Theory and mean world syndrome in my head I couldn’t help thinking that, if we take away the images (which are VERY powerful), TV is not much worse than “children’s stories” that are full of evil witches, bad wolves, cruel stepsisters, monsters and ghosts.
If the piece proves anything, it’s that children can watch all the TV in the world…but their level of m essed-upness is directly related to their real, everyday life (i.e. family, friends, school, etc.). That’s what the author calls “incorporation of personal experience” (p. 639). If they’re using the images from TV to express their own feelings, does it really matter if the images are bad if everything else they’re surrounded by is good?
I apologize for this question: isn’t quantitative research also guilty of completely ignoring human individuality (p. 641)?

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