My first 8:00 am session at today's International Congress on Qualitative Inquiry was a new show...so I slipped in late to a very good session on Internet Research. (#1004)
Lois Scheidt, whom I have encountered at several previous ICQI meetings, was in the midst of her presentation, talking about the issues related to informed consent with teens in online worlds. She is working in public sites, and must obtain consent from the online participants. This is a situation where parental consent has to be waived. She commented that "IRB thinking" should be part of our total research design, we should always be looking forward and working through the issues of human subjects.
The next presentation were from two researchers at Bowling Green University. Radhika Gajjala led the research that was "Intergenerational/Interactive Exploration of Performance of Gendered "Indianness" in Online Social Networks. She talked about the way that up until now most Facebook research has had a Western slant--US/UK/affluent/educated. The research she presnted today is part of a larger project on "Performing India in Online Spaces."
She discussed the issues of studying transnational, women's issues, people who are living privately in public spaces. She discussed the places that presented opportunities for study: online games; sports; Bollywood.
She presented a joint presentation that moved back and forth between the ways an older person enters the online world...and the ways a younger person does.
The follow up conversation dealt with issues of ethics...I missed the first presentation that I believe had to do with a study of sexually oriented websites and online discussions.
I think one of the most interesting questions for me was "What happens when online and offline are not discrete categories? How do we need to acknowledge that there are some people who are not online at all...and they may not all be the poor?
I learned about the "Association of Internet Researchers". I think I may need to do some more investigation of this group.