The ‘Aha!’ Moment

15 Apr

Last night I finally had my ‘Aha!’ moment. After struggling (or rather ‘avoiding’) to find a research topic for my project, I finally did it. Or at least I have a direction anyway. I was finally reading back through some of the online discussion posts, and had posted how I’m semi-freaking out that I haven’t nailed down a topic, when I noticed a new section regarding our research project abstracts. DUE EOD THIS FRIDAY! Yesterday was Tuesday, today is Wednesday. Little did I know, I’m supposed to be able to describe my final project that I will spend the next year of my life more or less married to, in 150-200 words by FRIDAY. Did I mention at this point I didn’t have a topic? I don’t think they would consider the words ‘social media’, ‘facebook’, ‘community’ written over and over again as an acceptable submission.

HOWEVER!

Luckily, I had enough sense to sign up for a group presentation on Social Network Analysis (which at how we are all socially connected) a few months ago when the topics were released. Kinna thought it would be a natural fit, you know given my interests/professional and all. One of the group members had so thoughtfully done little preliminary research on good ol’ Wikipedia and sent around the link to description of the Social Network Analysis research method. I had skimmed through it a few weeks ago (D’oh, note to self: Read things more carefully) but this time I was prepping for group conference call, so I look at it more closely. J-J-Jackpot! I may have actually jumped up from the couch – yes, sometimes use the lappy on the comfy couch – and cursed and swore every word my mother might still gladly attempt to put soap it my mouth for. But surely she’d forgive me this time – it was meant to be jubilant!

And right there in that description was another concept I’d said right from the very beginning that I wanted to explore – Diffusions of Innovations. The idea that innovations follow a specific pattern (the S curve) and once they reach a certain point the ‘innovation’ explodes and is suddenly ‘mainstream’ so to speak. Ya there’s a lot more to it, but that’s the gist.

Sooooo the next step is figuring out how to apply the theory and research method to some specific and tangible. And also manageable. My initial thought was examining how the Toronto Twitter Community came into being from a Diffusion standpoint, and examining it with Social Network Analysis. Does that make any sense to anyone? It might be a bit too broad to handle as well. So definitely open to any suggested variations 🙂

Oh ya, that jubilant cursing was my ‘Aha!’ moment – in case you missed it.

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3 Responses to “The ‘Aha!’ Moment”

  1. Jen C April 15, 2010 at 1:11 am #

    Wow… great topic!

    While you have a great start, I think that your topic is still too broad. What you want to do (and I truly do not mean this to sound bossy… really!) is to pick one theory as the lens for your project and pick one aspect of your topic to examine through that lens.

    So, some examples could be: (note: I haven’t flushed these out into full topics or anything)
    – Diffusion of innovation theory to examine how Toronto politicians have embraced twitter
    – Social Network Analysis to look at who the hubs are in the Toronto PR twitter community

    Honestly, you want to pick a narrow topic with a specific research question (and sub-questions, if applicable) to answer. It’s much easier to come up with a broad topic than to narrow it down into something manageable, trust me. 🙂

    Good luck!

    • kerribirtch April 15, 2010 at 1:59 am #

      Thanks Jen!

      Really helpful feedback. It gets a bit confusing between the theories vs. concepts vs. research methods vs. research design etc. Sometimes I’m not sure which is which and how to approach it all. I see what you mean though – maybe I’m trying to bit off more than I can chew here. Glad to hear about it from someone who’s gone through it. As you can probably tell, I’m also starting to make more of an effort to track my thoughts through the process (and get back to blogging in general) so hopefully it helps.

      Thanks again – we still need to plan for that coffee soon!

      • Jen C April 15, 2010 at 12:49 pm #

        This will become clearer after a few EXT 501 lectures, but essentially, you want to answer where, what, when, why, and how with your project topic.

        The why is your research topic (ie: why is ___ work studying?).
        The what is your general topic.
        The when and where are the population you are studying.
        The how is your research method.

        Generally, you only want to pick one research method (this is not a hard and fast rule though) to use – this could be interviews, document analysis, surveys, etc. For your topic, a two method approach could be good, like “document” analysis of tweets and interviews with selected tweeters.

        Good luck – I know it’s tough, but you’re off to a great start.

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