Monday, February 10, 2003


This is Day 3 without smoking and the only way I can keep myself from lighting up has been to do research 18 hours a day (and I still dream about smoking). It's sick. My beloved acupuncturist has inserted two needles in my left ear that I push really hard whenever I get a cigarette craving. As far as I can tell, the effort it takes - and the pain it causes - to push the needle distracts me long enough to remember that I want to quit. Anyway, it makes me think of what a hedonist I am. I have no small vices or fetishes - they're all pretty hardcore.

Since deciding that my thesis could be best presented as a living, interactive (digital) space - the following problems have emerged:

1. What is a thesis/dissertation? (materiality of paper, durability of thought, relationship between writer and reader, constructing professional discourse, voice and authority, ethnography and reflexivity, idealising the agora, reciprocity)

2. What constitutes a PhD dissertation at my university? Departmental guidelines for a concentration in social and virtual spaces: doctoral thesis "offers an original contribution and argumentation" (like that helps clarify things.)

2. What are the advantages and limitations of printed paper theses? What is lost and gained in the construction of digital theses? What type of digital thesis best suits my project requirements?

3. How can we evaluate digital dissertations? What are the criteria for success in the social sciences? In my concentration in social and cultural theory? How does this relate to the interpretive validity of my argument? How is my argument embodied and materialised? If my dissertation is a live website, how can it best be "captured" for evaluation and archiving? What are the ontological and epistemological implications for "freezing" it in time?

4. What are the ethical considerations for this type of social research and presentation? (Research must be approved by University Ethics Committee according to Tri-Council Policy Statement)

UPDATE: blog posts and comments public/email communication private?
Ethical Issues of Online Communication Research
Ethics of Internet Research: Contesting the Human Subjects Research Model
Ethical decision-making and Internet research: Recommendations from the AoIR Ethics Working Committee (pdf).

Man, trying to do things differently always requires *more work*.


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