Sunday, February 23, 2014

Fund My Research into the Importance of Research Funding

The one big thing I've managed to do for reading week is *almost* finish my lesson plans for the term (leaving room for in-class development, of course). One of the topics we're going to be going over is internet governance, and one of the sites our text suggests looking at is that for the Berkman Center for Internet Law and Society. The site does a weekly compilation of posts, and a highlight this week was a released study on a team creating digital media analysis tools to examine how media and public responded after the Trayvon Martin shooting. And I realize in retrospect that this is more detail than you really need to get to that final point.

Anyway, most of the results for the report are what you'd expect: the big news stations still act as gatekeepers of information, but have ceded more control over to online means, especially for pushing interest in specific directions. The online folk are mostly reacting to the news, but there are some attempts to generate sources themselves, especially of the sort that can be found online, such as Martin's social media presence. The part that caught my eye was the final conclusion: "Finally, this study demonstrates the complexity of contemporary media ecosystems and the need for tools, techniques, and data sources that allow us to empirically study the spread of ideas between media, examining influences of participatory media on professional media and vice versa."
First, it's great that this study exists. It's an enormous amount of work, and the fact that it's publicly available demonstrates a model for academic accountability and demonstration of value that I think is worth imitating in any and all academic forms. But c'mon--the final result of the study using complex data analysis tools is that we need complex data analysis tools? Funny how research never winds up proving that research wasn't needed.

Later Days.

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