Yesterday I had my application to transfer interview. The interview as one would expect was quite tough and a couple of the questions were difficult to answer. The interview started with a review of the parts of my research that worked well but as this was more concerned with critical aspects of the research these were not discussed.
Much was made of a need to be more explicit with my conceptual framework with my regards to my use of motivation within the research. However, the theory and concepts relating to creativity, generations and literacy were judged to be more clearly argued. About half an hour after the interview I was called to be told that the panel had recommended that I transfer to PhD status. This was more of a relief than an celebration.
However I did go out last night. I’d already got tickets to see my favourite band, The Fall, (left) at the indigO2, a few months back. This helped take my mind off the events of the interview, although I have slightly wooly head this morning!
Anyway now I can get back to progressing forward with my research without the worry of having to re-apply in the summer.
Today I handed in my Application to Transfer document two days before the deadline and it’s quite a relief. It’s 132 pages long and well in excess of 32,000 words. I’ve spend large parts of the summer writing and it. The main body of the transfer document is the literature review (about 23,000 words) and the methodology chapter (about 7,000). But, of course, it’s not just about the amount of words – it helps if they are in the right order and make sense!
It’s now a month until the panel interview. I can now get back to finishing the interviews. I met Adrian Arthur from the British Library at the OxIS 2011 Survey launch on Monday and he has been very helpful in giving me links to the over 65 age group. I’ve also started to line up a few more interviews. It’s becoming a bit like spinning plates on top of sticks, as one job is attended to another two or three need attention.
It’s been a long intensive summer of writing, researching and interviewing for my research project. This tended to move forward frustratingly at times in fits and starts but overall has been really quite enjoyable. I’m now at a stage where I need to hand in the work I’ve completed so far for assessment.
This is an internal type of verification and assessment system where the work is read by a few academics at the University before research students are asked to defend their work in front of a panel. This process is put in place to ensure that the work is an original contribution to knowledge and of a PhD standard. If it is deemed to pass this scrutiny then the candidate is allowed to transfer from an MPhil (Master of Philosophy) to a fully fledged PhD student.
The deadline for hand-in is Friday 21st and I want to get everything in a couple of days early. There are a lot of requirements for submission including many associated documents and signatures that accompany the written work. These are then compiled into one final document which needs to be copied and bound five times. The three main writing requirements are a literature review, a methodology chapter and 3,000 word application to transfer report..
I’ve finished the second draft of my 23,000 word literature review in July and have spent August writing the methodology chapter. On Monday I met with my supervisor to go through the methodology chapter and apart from some minor changes no major problems. The application to transfer report is done too. This was a laborious task as I need to recount and explain all of the processes I’d been through to get to this stage and give examples of why my research was original. It wasn’t difficult to do but I slightly frustration as I want to keep moving forward and, as a result of all this written work, I’ve had to delay progressing with the rest of my empirical research. However, I know this is an important and necessary process if I am to move forward.
I had a double meeting today down at the Marylebone campus today. The first was to receive feedback on my literature review with my supervisor and apart form very minor changes everything seems to be in order. As I’m just about to enter my third year I have to hand in the lit. review, a methodology chapter and a progress report in October as part of the ‘application to transfer’ from an MPhil to a PhD. This is standard practice on most UK doctoral programmes. So I’m pleased I don’t have massive re-writes. At the end of November each doctoral student is called before a panel to defend their work so far, a bit like a mini-viva.
The second meeting was about organising the Transforming Audiences 3 Conference hosted by the University of Westminster. It’s a bi-yearly event that flies in keynote speakers from around the world. This year the keynotes are Nancy Baym, author of Personal Connections in the Digital Age; Jean Burgess, co-author of YouTube: Online Video and Participatory Culture; Adriana de Souza e Silva, co-author of Mobile Interfaces in Public Spaces and Net Locality; Patricia G. Lange, co-author of Hanging Out, Messing Around, and Geeking Out and University of Westminster’s very own David Gauntlett, author of Making is Connecting.
There are three doctoral students helping organise the conference, myself included, and we’re also each giving 15 minute presentation on one of the many panel sessions throughout the two days. I’ve also been asked to present at the pre-conference meeting of the COST project, Transforming Audiences, Transforming Societies. COST is an “intergovernmental framework for European Cooperation in Science and Technology”. I’m giving a 25 minute presentation which relates my industry experience to my current research. I’ve, therefore, entitled my presentation: ‘From Punch-cards to Social Media: A Digital Life’ This relates to my 30-year association with digital technology and content creation. Using my personal experiences throughout this period, I’m going to trace the history of computer-generated visual content. This will start with the humble punch-card, which was my introduction to computers in 1981, through the world of broadcasting and use of one of the first computer graphic workstations, the Quantel Paintbox, to the digital tools available today and my research project.
This is the last set of interviews I’m doing before I concentrate solely on the my methodology chapter. There’s one interview from each age group.
The first, an elderly lady who retired a few years ago after spending time in a office job, has developed a passion for digital photography. She takes her camera around London two to three times a week and uploads them to a group on Flickr.
The second interview was of a young man in his mid-twenties who also takes photographs but also has a blog, Boidus, that he co-writes with a friend. He’s soon to be married to a woman who he met and has had correspondence with on the Web over the last year.
My nineteenth interview was down in south-west London with a 50 year old self confessed “stay-at-home-dad”. He makes lots of music and field recordings on his computer and shared them with friends and online communities using Soundcloud as a platform of choice (play one of his recordings below). This was a extremely interesting interview as, although he was very familiar with and experienced at creating digital content, he was also highly contemptuous of it too seeking to create analogue versions of online platforms.
I’ve finished re-writing and updating my literature review which is now around 20,000 words. It covers a wide range of subjects including digital content creation and user-generated content, new technology and user agency, generations and technology, virtual/online communities, computer-mediated identity and digital literacy.
Just as I was finishing I found this slide show which gives some data from December 2010 concerned with the widespread use of content on the web (although I’ve not included any of this data in my lit. review). It’s orientated towards marketing, as much of social media is nowadays, but gives some useful quantitative research findings.
There’s also a web page called ‘State of the Internet Now’ which shows data from social network sites.
It’s the week before Christmas and there’s been heavy snow fall in the later part of this week. As a result travel has been disrupted around the UK including the London area. However, I’ve still managed two trips to the Royal Festival Hall both of which are for completely different reasons.
Firstly I’m meeting David Gauntlett and a crowd from UoW to discuss the forthcoming Transforming Audiences Conference 3 in early September 2011. I’m part of the organising team along with a number of other PhD students. The main discussion at this initial stage was about wording of the conference literature and website plus the confirmation the keynote speakers. There was a loud orchestra playing Christmas carols in the background which added a bit of festive spirit. The RFH is a great place to be at this time of year.
My second outing to the Royal Festival Hall happened last night when I went to see Ray Davies and the Crouch End Festival Chorus. Again this was a very festive affair. Ray Davies is a national treasure.
I’m please there’s now a couple of weeks during the winter break where I can concentrate on updating my literature review now without interruption.
Monday saw Charles Brown deliver a well researched and constructed lecture titled Platforms, Convergence & Transmedia Content on the Network Society and the media module. It outlined the current issues concerning media industries, the constantly changing technological landscape along with the desire for large media companies to acquire content.
Friday I gave my symposium presentation at UoW Marylebone campus. This was the second symposium I’d presented therefore I wanted to show that I’d progressed considerably since last March. I’d spent quite while developing my 15 minute talk over the last week. However on arriving in the room was told that all the presentations would have to cut to 10 minutes. This severely diminished the flow, message and understanding of my proposal and although I managed to skip parts without to much confusion it was far from ideal. The full presentation is viewable below.
The feedback was pretty good but I was not happy at having to lose a third content. That’s life, I suppose and I’ll need to get used to this happening.
Mustn’t forget to mention that I had my regular fix of The Fall, my favourite band, at the Electric Ballroom in Camden on Tuesday. What a wonderful and frightening racket!
It’s been a long, varied and hard working Summer. I spent the first couple of months writing my literature review. That was a long and slow process which involved lots of reading and, or course, writing. As a result it developed in fits and starts. Some days I’d get lots written and others virtually nothing. I also had to finish a chapter of a book I was writing for my previous University on Social Media. I’d asked a friend and colleague to help with the case study as he had written the module we’d both worked on and had lots of student data to add. This took quite a bit of time of leasing with him and the editor.
The Summer School in Slovenia, as documented in this diary, was very useful although it meant I lost just over three weeks on the literature review due needing a mental an physical break afterwards. But overall it was definitely worth the trip. It now leaves me a little short of having the lit review finished by the end of September.
This week I’ve being trying to get back in the swing of things again. I have now registered for year two and on Monday met with a Fellow PhD student to compare notes at the British Library. She was concerned about the amount of the theoretical knowledge needed for her research work. But that’s what it’s all about.
I met both my supervisors independently of one another on Tuesday and Wednesday to discuss their thoughts about my literature review which I had sent them a month previously. The response was fairly positive although one thought that I was spending too much time trying to address the big questions of my research and not getting into specific subjects relating to my research questions.
I’m going to be taking seminars every Monday for the module Network society and the Media this semester and had an initial meeting about it yesterday. I’m really looking forward to it as it’s a really good chance to engage with students about their media use as well as listen to some in-depth lectures.
I’m all packed a ready to for my trip to Slovenia on the European Media and Communication Doctoral Summer School at the University of Ljubljana (left) in Slovenia tomorrow.
It’s a twelve day event organised by the European Communication Research and Education Association (ECREA) which hosts these events every year. It’s open to doctoral students from universities around Europe.
I’ve had to prepare a 3,000 word proposal and 10 minute presentation of my PhD which I will have to defend in front of lecturers and students next week. The two weeks are jam packed full of workshops and lectures so I’m sure my brain will hurt by the end of it. There is one other student from Westminster going and a couple of lecturers.
This begins the second part of my summer learning schedule. Most of the last few weeks have been taken up with writing my literature review and collaborating on a book chapter about social media for a proposed book on digital media practice. I handed them both in a couple of weeks ago and am now awaiting feedback. I took a trip to the Big Chill festival last weekend as a natural break and to signify to myself the end of one stage and the beginning of another.
Hopefully I’ll get time to update this diary with the events of the forthcoming days.