Monday, February 24, 2003

Action Research (Signs of brain activity)
Elisabeth Lane Lawley writes of weblogs and sense-making, and my brain labouriously shifts into gear.

My experience with sense-making is from the public relations study which I established back in the last milennium, and which I lead today. Brenda Dervin's sense-making approach has always been an important alternative to other methodologies for audience/receiver studies. I do find, however, that Action Research is a wider and more rewarding methodological choice for web-studies. The development of technologies, software and web-communities which are dependent on the user rather than the designer need to be studied not just through the act of common sense and understanding, but through cooperation with the people who actually use and develop said communities. Action research also has the advantage that it assimilates the changes which the study itself causes in the community. This is a meta-aspect which is particularly important with transient and easily influenced groupings such as you find online. The degree of reflexivity in the research needs to be high.

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