For a long time now, I have been thinking about the success or failure of this blog. Originally, it intended to be a hub of information regarding my DPhil. Writing about PhD experiences has been done successfully before; it is a way of channelling creatively one’s thinking, it offers a place to discuss ideas, and get feedback (or, constructive criticism). It’s not as messy as a diary – although it has great potentials of being one, especially after supervisory meetings. And anyway, all this stuff could be educational for the next generation of grad students.
It has not been possible to update this blog as often as I would like. The reasons? 1) Life, and 2) Research related issues. I’ll start from the latter as it’s easier to narrow down.
During the course of the last years, I have lost account of how many people I have met online and/or offline. I have talked to more than 200 people about chipmusic. I have attended events, made friends, helped in the chip network. I have practised four languages and learnt how to speak a fifth so that I can better communicate with my informants. I learnt a lot. How could I share all this with a lurking audience? Hence, this blog was deserted.
On the other hand, my private blog, flourished. I am the only one who has access to it, so I don’t have to worry about protecting my informants. Not everything can be classified as harming information, but there are opinions, facts, or gossip that could potentially hurt (some of) my informants. The ripple effect online is massive.
Revealing (informants’) information in the public sphere, especially without their informed consent is entirely unethical. I struggled a lot with research ethics at first, as I was trying to find the right way to proceed according to ethnomusicology/anthropology and internet research. For any researcher out there doing internet related research, make sure you read the “Ethical Decision-Making and Internet Research” (2012) published online by the Association of Internet Researchers.
The second reason that prevented me from publishing any posts, was everyday, personal life. In some respects, I’ve been experiencing heaven and hell the last eight months. I passed my confirmation of status, presented my work at the RMA grad students’ conference, got ill with pneumonia and missed the opportunity to present at the BFE annual conference, I fell down emotionally, got up again, stumbled, went to Sweden for a programme on online ethnography, got turned down numerous times on different occasions, got accepted in a number of situations, my perspective on what matters in life changed. Most importantly, I have been writing my thesis.
The thesis. I’m halfway through it, not in a way that it’s readable though! I have 10 chapters. I have written about half of them… There’s no beginnings nor ends in any chapter yet. And I should be wrapping it up and send a draft to my supervisor, but it’s not ready yet! I feel I have to complete so many things, so I don’t want to send it yet (Martin, I hope you’re not reading this).
This blog however, has been successful in some ways. I used it as a research tool and got in contact with a lot of interesting and important people. I had an online presence for anyone interested in finding out more about who I am and what I do. I learnt how to use the Internet! I learnt how to be selective about what to publish – and ended up publishing nothing, lolz.
The message is in the process of being communicated, or as we’d say in Internetspeak, “buffering…”