164 paper

Thoughts on blogging as an ethnographic tool

Mary-Helen Ward
Faculty of Education and Social Work
University of Sydney

The personal development that takes place within the institutional framework of the PhD has in the last decade attracted the attention of researchers and bureaucrats in Australia. The institutional framework that supports the degree, the experiences of individual students at set points in their process, the experiences of supervisors and the development of pedagogies of research have all been subject to investigation. However, the development of web logging software (blogging) has now made it possible to undertake a longitudinal study of a group of candidates. My project aims to create a community of PhD candidates who are prepared to both maintain weblogs (blogs) themselves and to read and comment on the blogs maintained by the other members of the group. Through these blogs I hope to ‘open a window’ onto an experience that has been characterised as mysterious and even inherently distressing. Issues have been raised concerning both studies and education conducted in online mediums: whether the internet is a culture or a cultural artefact, how it is understood and viewed by its users, and whether the degree of performativity inherent in self-presentation on the internet might be fatal to authenticity. These discussions are pivotal to the development of my PhD.

Keywords: online ethnography, doctoral process, blogs as research tools, research pedagogy