Wednesday, October 2, 2013

My Research, Your Voice

By Giulia Forsythe
Over the past few days, I've been looking into a number of different research topics, but I want to narrow down my scope and try to begin spiraling in on a single topic or two. The thing, is I want these ideas to matter to someone more than me. The existing academic approach typically focuses on super-specialized topics and presents them in ways that are almost entirely inaccessibly for the vast majority of people. Well, you can maybe see where that might be a problem. People just aren't interested in things that have no relation to them and which are couched in so bizarre or abstract a form as to render them unintelligible. So what's the solution?

In "The Three Phases of Academic Blogging," Gideon Burton suggests that social  media platforms like Twitter and Google+ can be used to 'test out' ideas before investing significant time in researching a topic. Basically, that means that we don't have to wait until publication to see if people will like our ideas or want to hear more. Rather, research becomes a social process that incorporates audience feedback all along the way; people gradually become invested in the topic as the research develops around their interests and feedback, and we have the chance to incorporate differing perspectives as we seek social proof for our ideas.

I've had a chance to apply this principle (sometimes more effectively than others) over the past couple of years, and I've been really surprised with how it's helped me to broaden my perspective and draw upon a more diverse base of sources and ideas. This time around, though, I want your help in choosing a topic. I've narrowed it down to three broad ideas that interest me, but I want to know what interests you the most:
  1. Digital Worlds Unseen - Exploration of the digital universes within video games and supporting platforms: economic systems, government, art, culture, etc.
  2. Digital Identity - Investigation of social media's effect on perceptions of self and community: social platforms, isolationanonymity, expression, etc. 
  3. Real-Life Projections of the Digital World - Exploration of how digital concepts and forms are entering into everyday life: 3D printing, legitimization through Facebook 'official' status, Cosplay, LARPing, etc.
So, what are your thoughts? Which of these do you like? Do you have other ideas that might tie into any of these?