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Happy New Year and happy birthday to My PhD Blog December 31, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Blog, PhD.

Today it’s been three years since I started ‘My PhD Blog’ and wrote my very first post. Wow, time indeed does fly when you’re a PhD student.

Given that the blog is now three years old, I should have handed in my dissertation by now – actually, my PhD scholarship officially expires today(!). Luckily, my university has been kind enough to grant me with a couple more months to finish it. My New Year’s resolution for 2010 is therefore to spend as much time in my office as possible and be able to hand in the dissertation sometime around March. If that happens it looks like there is a position as an assistant professor waiting for me – and with that a lot of teaching, which I look forward to. I also look forward to having the time to blog in grater detail about my research findings.

Happy New Year to all readers and commentators of this blog. I wish you all the best in 2010!


New paper out: Social Network Sites and Digital Youth Culture December 11, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Papers, PhD Data, Social network sites, Youth Culture.

I have a new paper out in the latest volume of the journal MedieKultur. The paper is called ‘Social network sites and digital youth culture: When young people practice friendships online (‘Sociale netværkssider og digital ungdomskultur: Når unge praktiserer venskab på nettet’). I regret to say that the paper is in Danish, which will probably discourage some of you from reading it. I can, however, provide you with an English abstract:

During the past few years, hundreds of thousands of Danes have created personal profiles on websites such as Arto, Facebook and MySpace. With the emergence and popularisation of these sites, we have witnessed a new media concept: social network(ing) sites. As is often the case with new media, teenagers have been the first to take social network sites to heart. In this paper I discuss the concept of online social networking and describe how social network sites are used as part of everyday teenage life to maintain social relations. I do this, firstly, by presenting a number of concepts that I consider to be important in relation to young people’s use of social network sites. Secondly, I highlight some results from my own research on 12-18-year-old children and adolescents’ use of various social network sites, including Arto.com, which has been Danish teenagers’ preferred venue on the Internet for a relatively long time. Using empirical examples, I analyse and discuss how social network sites are an integral part of the young users’ friendships and social lives. The article is based on four years of ethnographic studies.

The paper does not really contain any of my newest PhD results (since I wrote it a year ago), but I am using the paper in my dissertation as part of my chapter 3, where I define and frame my research topic.

You can download the paper in a pdf-version here. Also, check out other interesting papers from the volume.

PhD metaphors November 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Dissertation, PhD, Procrastination.

I have three months left before I have to turn in my PhD, which of course means that all I am doing at the moment is writing and working on my dissertation. Being in this state of mind has made me think about all the different metaphors one could use to describe what this last phase of the PhD process is like.

I think for me – at least at the moment – writing a PhD thesis is like completing a jigsaw puzzle. Sometimes you have only four pieces and other times 4000 pieces to fit together.

Another, and not necessarily optimistic, metaphor could be viewing the process as a train ride. Normally it goes fast, sometimes there are delays – and you just hope it doesn’t crash!

What is the PhD process like for you? Can you come up with other eloquent metaphors?

Slides from public talks October 29, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Facebook, Science communication, Social network sites, Talks, Youth Culture.

Yesterday I gave four public talks in Aalborg under the headline “Facebook and the digital youth culture” (all talks in Danish, though). During the day I talked at three different high schools and the last talk was in the evening at Studenterhuset. Since many of the attendants asked for my slides I will provide them here:

They will probably only make sense to the people who attended the talks, since the integrated links with examples, definitions, pictures etc. don’t work in slideshare. Also, I have cut out some of the pictures out of ethical considerations. BUT I have provided a list of reference to both my own and other researchers’ publications, where those interested can read more.

Dating site integrated into social network site September 2, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Arto, Dating, Social network sites.

As regular followers of this blog will know, my main ‘field site’ has for many years been the Danish social network site Arto.com. For a long time Arto was the most popular SNS in Denmark with a huge group of core users between the age of 12 and 17. Now, the site is threatened by the major popularity of Facebook and according to a recent report from ‘Digital view’ Arto has shrunk to a third of its size during the past year – with an increase in especially 15-19 year old users.

Perhaps this is the reason why Arto has made a lot of changes lately and now seems to be targeting a much more broad (and international) audience.  One of the most recent initiatives is a dating section, where users can show an immediate interest in each other by clicking through a list of profile pictures (based on their own criteria) and state whether they are “Interested” or “Not interested”. The system works like a matchmaking feature; if two users have both shown an interest in each other there is a match:

I am interested in whether this will change the social networking part of the site. Anyway, I find it interesting that my profile (which I keep for research related reasons) was automatically integrated into the dating section. This means that other users, who have set their search criteria with my age and gender, will be able to show a romantic interest in me, even though I am not interested in dating… So far, it doesn’t seem that users can edit their settings to prevent this.

I am wondering if we will see more dating sites and social network sites merging in the years to come? I know that Danish MySpace users can use their user name to sign into Match.com, but in general, are people interested in having their SNS profile merge with their dating profile?

Danish youngsters teach The Minister for Education about internet and ICT in school September 1, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Internet, Internet Safety, School, Youngsters.
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The Danish Media Council for Children and Young People has set up a youth panel called “Medierødderne” consisting of a group of children and young people between the age of 10 and 15. During the summer they have been working on compiling a list of ideas and guidelines for better ICT and internet usage in school. In June they presented their ideas for the Danish Minister of Education.

I have picked out a couple of their recommendations (translated from Danish):

1. Let students teach each other about the internet, and have children share their good and bad experiences with each other, their parents and teachers.

2. All teachers must attend a course in internet and computer skills, and they should include the internet in their teaching more often.

5. If a school creates filters on their computers, the students should be informed why.

9. Schools should set up a rule that prevents teachers from ‘friending’ students on Facebook – and vice versa.

See the complete list of recommendations here.

The panel is one out of many European youth panels within the Insafe network.

New citation manager August 31, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Dissertation, Research.
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When I first started writing my PhD dissertation I used Endnote to manage citations and references. Half way through the period I switched to RefWorks, which I liked because of the possibility to store all of my references online. Then a few weeks ago some colleagues of mine pointed me towards Zotero,  which is now my favourite tool for creating in-text-citations. Zotero is actually an open source Firefox extension so I have all my research sources stored in the web browser itself. The Word plug-in is really easy to use and I haven’t encountered any problems importing all my references.

Learn more about Zotero here.

Btw, if you wonder what I am up to at the moment and why I am an awfully unstable blogger, I can tell you that all I am doing is writing my dissertation. It is going okay and I enjoy having the time to be absorbed into the project.

My PhD Blog featured in woman’s magazine July 15, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Blogging, Media coverage.

More than 1.5 year ago I gave an interview to a Danish woman’s magazine called Femina about keeping a research blog. Last week the interview was finally published as part of a special theme on blogging. It’s a really small piece (and the article was even shortened in the end), but it can be read from the journalist’s own website here (in Danish – page 6).

I think keeping a research blog is an interesting methodological approach. In my dissertation I have written a small section about research blogging and how it affects my research and empirical data. When I have more time I will  write a post about that. I the meantime, I can recommend this paper  from 2002 by Jill Walker and Torill Mortensen: “Blogging thoughts: personal publication as an online research tool“.

Twittering from Social Media PhD Course June 24, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, PhD, Twitter.

I’m attending a PhD course on “Social Media: Analysing Identity, Sociality and Creativity in Online Networked Environments“. Some of us are twittering using the hashtag #PhDsmc. Feel free to follow 🙂

Nancy Baym at Aalborg University June 17, 2009

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Aalborg University, Academic, Lectures.
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Next week Nancy Baym, University of Kansas, will be visiting Aalborg University to give a summer lecture on ”Qualitative Internet Research: New Media and Methodology”. Nancy is coming to Denmark in connection with the PhD course on Social Media I have been involved in planning, and luckily she agreed to come by Aalborg first to talk about her research and how she deals with methodological issues in social media studies.

The abstract of Nancy’s talk is:

Nancy Baym will be discussing the methodological issues she’s encountered in her recent qualitative and quantitative research online. Her research on friendship in the music-based social networking site, Last.fm, for example, combines quantitative and qualitative survey questions and raised several challenges in recruiting appropriate participants as well as integrating the two kinds of responses. Her work on independent Scandinavian music and its online fans involved multiple forms of online interviewing including email, chat and skype (audio and video), and she will discuss the variation in interviews that resulted.

The guest lecture takes place Monday 22nd at 10. Read more about it here and feel free to attend or pass on the invitation.

After the lecture Nancy will join the local researchers for a lunch seminar and an informal discussion on “The new shape of online communities“.