Conducting online interviews: How-to guide

Posted: December 11th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: articles & books, theory | Comments Off on Conducting online interviews: How-to guide

It goes without saying that technology-mediated communication is becoming increasingly common as both a locus and a tool for ethnographic research.  I find it exciting to observe how writers have responded by producing innovative teaching and learning materials for conducting online research. One recent addition is Online Interviews In Real Time, (2010) by Janet Salmons.  What I like about this book is that it provides a very thorough guide for thinking through the process of planning, executing, and reflecting on various types of online interviews — synchronous, asynchronous, with and without camera, one-to-one and one-to-many, interviews using Skype or Skype-like platforms, interviews in immersive environments, etc.

There are a couple of areas in which I’d like to add to the conversation.  First, how do we researchers go about preparing (or not preparing) our interviewees for meeting us on the platforms we choose for online interviews?  Second, how can we — and how should we — engage more deliberately in the process of choosing platforms for our online contact with research participants?  Any platform that we choose (whether as a subject of our studies or a means of studying our subject) will have communication affordances and constraints encoded into it.  How can we better reflect on these before, during, and after our research?

What guides do you turn to in thinking through your online research methods?

Free materials on Social Computing

Posted: December 9th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: articles & books, theory | Comments Off on Free materials on Social Computing

As I have blogged about before, I am very interested in theories of social technology as well as research on the ways in which technology and communication are mutually constitutive.  How are technologies strategically designed to shape communication?  How can such designs be improved?  How can developers take social interactions into account as they plan, develop, and execute designs for technological interfaces?  If you’re interested in these questions, and you’d like to explore their answers from a developer’s/technologist’s viewpoint, then you’ll want to take a look at these free materials on social computing developed by Tom Erickson of IBM Research Labs. These materials are part of the growing collection being developed by, a venture driven by scholars and thinkers who seem wholly dedicated to sharing information and supporting conversations.