Sunday, September 25, 2011

Emergent Technologies in Social Research

I recently got my hands on The Handbook of Emergent Technologies in Social Research edited by Sharlene Nagy Hesse-Biber in the Sociology Department at Boston College.  Sharlene is also the founder/leader of the qualitative research software Hypertext. 

 It's the volume that announces a new era in qualitative computing, that is, the era (that I referred to in earlier posts) that is post stand-alone qualitative software, or QDAS 2.0...This is jumping outside of that software box and jumping onto the Internet.  This book is also moving beyond the 'isms' of qualitative research and merging qualitative research into the vast continuum of data that is now available and asking questions of how to work large and fine. 

I am going to be reviewing this volume for a journal, and I realized that one way I could layer the review (work up to it so to speak), was to discuss the individual chapters in the blog.  It's also one way to keep myself reading (it's 687 pages with 28 separate articles--that's no small item).  So, that's what I am going to do.

Let me give you a bit of an overview.  Hesse-Biber gives the broadest latitude to defining what emergent technologies are and what they do:  "New technologies can open up new areas of inquiry, provide researchers with the tools to answer new questions, and change the landscape of knowledge building within and across disciplines." 

The book is divided into 4 parts:
1.  Emergent Technologies in a Broad Social Research Context
2.  The Rise of Internet Technologies and Social Research Practice
3.  Emergent Data Collection Methods:  New Forms of Data Production 
4.  Audiovisual, Mobile, and Geospatial Technologies' Impact on the Social Research Process
5.  The Impact of New Technologies for Studying Social Life in Naturalistic Settings

These are excellent categories for consideration.  As I move forward I have a couple of questions that I will be keeping in mind:
1.  What happened to QDAS (Qualitative Data Analysis Software)?  I don't see it in the chapter headings...And I don't raise this as a criticism, but rather as a question--is it all over for QDAS? 
2.  This leads to my next question--there is a lot here about data collection...but what about analysis?  One of the reasons that, I think, QDAS got short shrift in QR circles was that many people were more interested in data collection or data representation than data analysis...and they found the transparency of QDAS unsettling in regard to making public data analysis I am reading to understand this issue also. 

Some of the names in here are familiar to me, but many more are new to me.  I am very interested to meet these researchers who are new to me and find out what they are thinking and working on.

Onward and upward with Emergent technologies. 

The book is published by Oxford University Press.  It's out just this year--2011.  

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