Sunday, May 31, 2009

And So It Goes...

I am currently well into my summer research and it is proving to be much more work than I had initially imagined. As many know, I am looking at why people use Second Life as a means of social support, so I am sitting in on support group meetings in Second Life. While by nature SL is hyper anonymous, getting accepted by a group has proven to be difficult in some respects. For example, before I started actually doing my research on a regular basis, I had sat in on some AA meetings. I asked the group leaders if it was okay for me to be there (which they said yes) and then asked the group. During this particular meeting I had one individual who IM'd me very upset that I was there. In another group I asked to be able to sit in and there was another individual who was uncomfortable with me there as well. I have sucessfully sat in on several groups recently and I may have found the formula to being accepted by the group...but only time will tell on that!

This doesn't mean that I haven't been able to get interviews however, I'm at around 15 people in, which is actually behind where I think really should be. Unfortunately the best time to get people is immediately after a group meeting and there are only so many meetings a week. So, I'm going to be content getting maybe 2 people a meeting. That seems to be a controllable number in terms of managing IM's and should keep me somewhat close to the final number of interviews I need (about 60-80). Of the people I have asked to interview, only one has declined saying they were busy. In fact most people seem to be very willing to answer my questions and tell me about their experiences.

Not only is the interviewing (and sitting in on groups which typically go for about an hour) time consuming, but there is also reading and writing to be done as well. While I had an idea that the project would take lots of time and energy, I didn't think it was going to take THIS much time and energy. My work schedule has changed and the number of hours I'm putting in at the day job has increased significantly (one day last week I left my house before 6am and didn't get back until after 7), and while that isn't a forever change, it is definitely making the whole research thing seem to go a little more slowly. While I know I will be able to get the project done by the end of the summer, the pressure lies in that I have two professors counting on me to write a decent paper that will be accepted to the Eastern Communication Association Conference as well as be published.

That is where the stress lies! How does one work a full time plus job, spend 12 hours a week driving, spend another 8 hours or so simply sitting in on support groups and then another who knows how many hours writing...And expect to have a decent result? And how do you explain to others the amount of stress that you are under without sounding whiny? I'm really the only person I know of in my boat!

Sunday, May 17, 2009


A long and busy semester has ended and my nights and weekends that were once filled with Health Communication and The Future of News will now be dominated by research in Second Life.

Initially my project on Second Life and social support groups was just going to be a literature review for my Health Communication Class. It evolved from there into a thesis topic and an independent summer research project.

Over the summer I will be working with my adviser to collect all of my data (by sitting in on support groups in Second Life and doing 1x1 interviews people who go to support groups in SL) and then writing the paper with the hopes of getting it into the Eastern Communication Association this fall and ultimately into a journal.

The big news, while at ECA my adviser spoke with another professor about work she had previously published and told her that we were using it in our research. They discussed the research I was going to be doing this summer and she was interested in it and ultimately wants to work on the project with us. It is very exciting for me!! We had a conference call a couple of weeks ago that went very well and I think that she will be able to bring more of the social support side of things into the equation that my adviser and I don't as much about.

Overall, VERY exciting!!