In this workshop, Priya Kumar (SOAS London) leads participants through online research methods that help add qualitative ‘thickness’ to Big Data. We will explore the Internet not only as a data-gathering instrument, but also as a primary research field – an evolving cultural product of the digital age.
The workshop will discuss how ethnographic methods and content analysis techniques can be adapted and applied to Internet-based social research. We will consider how ethnographers approach user-generated website content, computer-mediated communication and digital artifacts to understand culture, and will also reflect on the strengths and weaknesses of this field-based research technique.
This is followed by an overview of web-based content analysis, a method that is extremely useful when attempting to examine the way messages, text and symbols link to public opinion, attitudes and worldviews.
Participants will learn how to conduct their own study and we will discuss the challenges of sampling text and coding online content in terms of syntax (word choice) and semantics (themes of text). The final part of the workshop addresses ethical dilemmas that commonly arise in Internet-based research (lurking, human subjects, and deciphering between public/private content).
Participants are required to bring laptops, and to show up on time.
DHAsia gratefully acknowledges support for Prof. Kumar's workshop from the Center for South Asia at Stanford University.