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!


John Norris said...

If it is any consolation, the research you are doing may be very important to the understanding of support groups in virtual worlds.

As far as I know, there has not been lot of the indepth look that it seems that you are doing in this area.

From my own bit of research, I have found healthcare support groups cropping up in many virtual worlds. This may be a very good use of such places, and it may be the kind of research that you are doing will help make the case.

Thank you for your efforts, and I look forward to reading your paper :-)

EP said...

I'm really interested in hearing your results, whenever you get more data from Second Life. The research that you're doing sounds absolutely fascinating!

Keep up the hard work. Your efforts WILL be rewarded!

John Norris said...

Thx...your's too!

I'm hoping to have a paper published in the Journal of Virtual Worlds Research in Aug. Some preliminary info is on my website (

There's so much happening in this area it is hard to keep up.