Friday, October 28, 2005

AoIR6: Ethics Panel

This post was originally published on Social Simulation on 28 October 2005

Here're the notes from the Ethics panel, convened by AoIR folks who were on the Ethics working group

Charles Ess
See Peden and Flashinsky (2004) - Ethical research decisions: A content analysis.

Chris Mann (UK) 2003: biog from here

Chris Mann is a Senior Research Associate in the Faculty of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Cambridge, having completed her Ph.D. at Cambridge in 1996. Her pioneering work on methodological and ethical issues in doing Internet-research underpinned her research at the OII. Her book, with Fiona Stewart, Using the Internet in Qualitative Research (London: Sage, 2000) has been adopted for many courses on new research methods


Possible consent options
See Ethics and information technology 7(1) – china, japan and Thailand – forthcoming

Annette N Markham (University of the Virgin Islands)
Methods and ethics

Method is a series of decision points:
Method of constructing the q and laying out general design of the study
Method of accessing the participants (data) and defining field boundaries
Method of collecting info
Method of filtering and organising info
Method of analysing data into general themes
Method of interpreting general themes
Method of representing self, other and the phenomenon in writing

CMC and internet research has exposed a lot of limitations in Internet Research Board process

Mark Johns
Risks to reputation
Sexual orientation, other social stigmas outted on online
Risks to rep of person and PERSONA (and business eventually)
(“tell her you’re a rottwieller!” New Yorker cartoon mark 2)

Economic risks
Job loss because of what people said in a blog/online chat etc

[What do we do with vulnerable populations – doesn’t just mean kids etc – newbies who don’t understand the dimensions of internet and its privacy issues); data retention – eg. Blogs. You’ve deleted but you have info mined that you don’t have any right to – we don’t have the right to retain data; archives]

Invasion and Intrusion risks.
Sometimes ignorance, but sometimes expectations vary widely from what our expectation of it will be. E.g., blog = private diary. Unless invited shouldn’t be looking at it. As researchers, we expect that anything out there is for mining. Nyt wants us to look at it, yet it’s password-protected. Password-protection doesn’t mean it's a closed forum. Expectations need to be taken into consideration.

Jeremy Hunsinger
Maastricht – Public Perception of AoIR Online. Check out this presentation.
Keep all personal information in separate file from content
Be wary of survey monkeys etc 'cause their data encryption/protection isn’t up to the same degree required by IRBs. Instead, create a protocol that stays within the uni firewalls.

A system can learn how you type and write, so therefore it’s pretty easy to find out who you are. Same with photography.

Password protection isn’t good enough.

Don’t copy your data to the hard drive. Work floppy. Take data offline if you don’t need it there.

David BrinTransparent Society (issues of privacy) (but Ess says it’s an Amerocentric conception of privacy)

Lori Kendall (she who wrote Hanging out in the Virtual Pub)
Social Problems (1980) (informed consent in field research. Similar issues to internet research)

AoIR6: Keynote - Sonia Livingstone

This post was originally published on 28 October at Social Simulation

Sonia Livingstone
Children, young people and the internet

Young people as pivot point of change – how is their use responsible for how we use the internet

What’s new in change? Follow old media to new media: moral anxieties follow from old to new. New media supplements rather than displaces; familiar norms reasserted, connect is crucial. – all define the way in which internet is used in everyday life.

There are changes. Practices recombined, reconfigured, re-mediated; social spheres blurred, undermining hierarchies (leisure and education become blurred – at home and at school; gender divides, public-private divides); from one-to-many, mass communication to ubiquitous, interactive network communication.

This research used a Child-centred approach, rather than tech- or adult-centred (opposed to those priorities)

What’s happening to childhood?
Societal changes: youth is an extended period. Dependence for longer than before. Becoming consumers younger, sexually aware and interested ever younger. From Victorian (hierarchical) family to democratic family (changes in interpersonal roles). Hierarchies of authority are being re-thought. Childhood lived out of doors to a childhood lived indoors because outdoors is “unsafe”. (mobile phone techs are helping to re-think that)

Media-rich home; individualised (everyone in his or her own space rather than a communal space). The media is a place for agency and experimentation. This fits with contemplations of youth culture – hierarchical, democratic, created opportunity

The child: singular, universal; developing, becoming; vulnerable, innocent; passive, acted upon; needs segregation, protection

Media and internet studies looks at the sociological elements of “childhood”: diverse, context-dependent; a person in his/her own right; needs inclusion, recognition (a space developed with him or her in mind); skilled, sophisticated; active, agent.

The child is the centre – in what ways are children actors? They create, subvert, explore, network.

UK Children Go Online Project
9-19 yo, 1500, plus parallel survey of their parents

¾ use internet at home, 92% at school, 98% have accessed
8% access internet via games console

are they pioneers? 90% use the Internet for schoolwork – 21% (of kids age 12+) plagiarise

1/3 have set up own website (1/3 of them have never put it online; for a school project 45%, 1/3 doing creative things); of those 2/3 who haven’t, ½ don’t know how to

civic interests: when get to such a site, “just check it out” – no interaction. Don’t discuss with friends (56%). Why don’t visit? 80% not interested.

Taking the first steps towards creativity and engagement, but not pursuing.

In last week, 39% visited 1-4 websites: google, football, music group, fave tv show. Perhaps there is creativity (e.g., wiccan), but mostly branded.

Who makes more rich/complex use of internet? Older teens, boys, those with better quality of access, greater online skills/self-efficacy – skills and interest breeds skills and interest, but the evidence suggests that there’s not a lot of interaction

Dialogue box = “adult voice” that says what can and can’t do (for adults too!)

Kids are more expert, children report being able to do more than their parents. Can find information, but fewer than half set up IM, 12% can download music, just over a third can set up email

Knowing how to look for information but understanding or engaging with it isn’t a simple element.
Takes a while for kids to be critical about content. Go and Google – not being taught critical literacy. (e.g., racist Martin L King website - at top of google for a while – not aware that the content is racist)

New child-centred model? Child at centre, but arrows point inward from parent, state, school and commerce.

For young people, government is deaf. Real contrast between producer’s perceptions and intentions and participant’s. From delivering information (rather than “participation”, which in these spaces and political contexts is “for adults”) how to participate (e.g., school council rates above websites) and difficulty to elicit who the author of the site is.

Top ten sites: music, tv, football. These sites are designed to be a walled garden. Whole design is to keep you there. Branding more important than content. Disconnect between questions kids have in their heads and the design of information-seeking and concept of info web. (e..g, what’s friendlier than a Russian hamster? In ask jeeves, gets search offers for tourist information on Russia)

Significant anxiety about kids’ use of internet, which limits their critical exploration of the space
Parents checking email would be like going through drawers in room and checking pockets when they came home from school. Parental monitoring interpreted as spying.

Opportunities and risks online go hand in hand

More traditional use of internet (curriculum-based) than early hopes as a space for learning new literacies.
Erratic, disillusioning and disengaging way security features are experienced by kids (bbc banned but child prostitution article not)
D. Buckingham = curricularisation of leisure time

even with second child-centred model, the original model works, from subversion (privacy), exploration, networking (peer to peer, chat), creativity.

What kind of knowledge does it require to get actively involved with the systemic institutions?

AoIR6: Dynamics of Chat Spaces

This post was otiginally published on Social Simulation on 28 Octber 2005

The Dynamics of a Web Chat community (Janet Armentor-Cota); Lafayette College, Syracuse University

Community, communication, identity. How people use multi-media chat forums (webchat) – use of various media to overcome barriers associated with distance

Architecture of webchat
Chat – cmc, real-time, multi-participant, short message length, constant
Webchat – multi-media, incorporates typed messages, voice, emotional cues and video streams

RQs: exploratory, how do process and structures of multi-media technologies organise the webchat room space of [US] northeast romance chatrooms and ongoing interactions among participants? What kinds of interactions occur, how do they use the space?

Theoretical paradigms
Postmoderninity (Best and Kellner (1991, 1997, 2001)): not either/or; in between modern and post-modern
Network society (Manuel Castells 2000)
Cultural studies (Fornas, 2002; Sterne, 1999)
Network technologies and virtual reality (post mod theorists – Baudrillard, Plant, Stone)

Past research on Virtual Community and space: Fernback (1999)
Ridens and Geden (2004) – where people with shared interests and goals, meet and discuss shared interests and form a geographical bond
Gotved (2002) – space
Interface space: visibility of communications and interactions, the shared space; social space (constituted through the interactions of the community); metaphorical space (sum of perceived spatiality, all imaginations of the geography)

Virtual, postmodern ethnography (lurker)
DA (multi-disciplinary approach – multiple interpretations based on multi-strands of DA)
Naturalistic observation of a public space
Documented interactions with field notes for ½ years, logged text and audio

how people are using space – to create community
A place for excitement – a place for FUN (use internet for fun)
Voice chat
The regulars
Group movement in chat networks (regulars move through space together)
A space between: participants' everyday use of technology (blurring boundaries of on and off) is a blancing act – personal dynamics in a public space

Gatekeeping of Information: A New Approach, Karine Barzilai-Nahon (Information School, University of Washington)
RQ: Information control – who’s controlling what and how being done?
Gatekeeping in journalism (e.g., editor, what we get in news) (see journo lit)

“gatekeepoing is dead” Steve Yelvington

What is gatekeeping? Kurt Lewin (1947), David Manning White (1950), Donohue, Tichenor and Olien, 1972
Information control – including all forms of information control that may arise in decisions about message encoding, such as selection, shaping, display, timing, withholding or repetition of entire messaging – funnelling

Technological gatekeeping mechanisms:
channelling mechanism (search engines, directories and categories, hyperlinks); censorship mechanism (filtering, blocking, zoning, deletion of content); internationalisation mechanism (localisation, translation); security mechanism (authentication controls, integrity controls, access controls); cost-effective mechanism (cost of joining, cost of usage, cost of exit) – loads more (See the presentation)

authority dimension: gov’t level, industry regulator level, internal authority level)

Rheingold (2000)

RQ: Did it occur? Why does a gatekeeping occur? (Gatekeeping is operationalised as deletion of messages)
Objective – to develop explanatory models

Gained access to the logs of all seven major ISPs in Israel for 3 years – god access. Gatekeepers and regulator interviews, 80 diff variables. 1million messages

Mark Smith at Microsoft research (gatekeeping)

Sovereignty inside borders of virtual communities: there is a delicate tension between the 4 layers of gate keepers: regulators (keep order), service providers (raise profile of platform), managers (regulate who gets in for quality of community – quality vs. popularity), users
tensions exist particularly between enablers and managers

the community core (user seniority and hierarchy – serve as gatekeepers, overlapping loyalties): not necessarily top-down, but could be bottom up. A good core can see manager as irrelevant, all can move to different space, mutiny; senior figures guide and teach/dictate norms. Code, guidance, real regulations are the emergent social norms (e.g., flaming by new or unknown member/intruder, a senior figure (regular) comes in and diffuses the situation, or leads the situation)
overlapping loyalties – the more things you’re involved with, the more likely you’re going to be deleted (cross-posting and spam)

anonymity: in eg. Political discussions (where nicks are rarely changed because of rep), many of the “guests” are existing members of the community who may, for example, enter to try out a differing viewpoint than traditionally present in the community.

behaviour is similar or same across communities, so managers accumulate info about actor through rumour and other communication. Managers talk to one another and then act accordingly – relationship management/deletion etc.

Nissenbaum – methods of researching internet (recent)

Is this gatekeeping or information control?

Other coverage of these presentations are here