Let the surveys begin!

Finally, finally FINALLY, I’m starting to send out my “Blogs as Writerly Spaces” survey. I feel like I’m literally about a year behind on this project for reasons that are both bad (my own laziness, my lack of focus, distractions that are too easily found, etc.) and good or at least inevitable (unexpected and expected school things, other scholarly side projects, “real life,” etc.). The process of writing the survey took longer than I thought it should have, getting it approved through the Human Subject Review process (what everyone else calls IRB) took a while, I decided to wait for a while longer to get some funding from EMU to pay for this survey, and then, just as I was getting ready to send this out, someone in my department decided to stir up the politics I vaguely elude to in my last post, and that of course sucked up far too much time.

But finally, I’ve started surveying folks and the results are trickling back in.

I don’t want to say anything too specific about this right now because it’s way early and I expect to be collecting a lot more data over the next year or so. My methodology is to invite bloggers via email to participate, and I’m trying to invite as many different kinds of bloggers as I can (I’m trying to minimize the number of academic bloggers I survey since I don’t want this project to be a long and hard stare in the mirror). I started by visiting some friends’ blogs and a few other blogs I read on a fairly regular basis, and then visiting their links and then their links and so forth. I will probably try to contact bloggers listed in things like technorati (hey, why not try to survey popular blogs?), and I might have to try some other tactics (including this entry– see below) to recruit some participants. I don’t know if this surveying process is truly random or scientific per se, but short of the kind of resources and expertise of groups/organizations like Nielsen and the Pew Research Center (and people question those studies all the time, of course), I think this is about as close as I’m going to get. So call it pseudo-random.

Like I said, I’ve only been doing this for a couple days, but two things I’ll mention that I’ve noticed so far: first, I am inevitably and unintentionally screening participants based on valid email addresses available via their blogs (or their profiles on various blogging services). I suppose I could invite people to participate in my survey by posting a comment on their blog, and I have been surprised by is the number of blogs/bloggers that do not provide any contact information. So I hadn’t thought about this.

Second, and I had thought about this when I started this project, I think am going to have a really REALLY difficult time getting ex-bloggers (e.g., people who used to keep a blog and then abandoned it for some reason) to participate in this project. I’ve been trying to invite these folks when I come across their dead blogs, but they often lack contact information and the ones I have tried emailing bounced back to me. So this part could be tricky.

By the way, if anyone reading this wants to participate in my survey, shoot me an email at stevendkrause at gmail dot com with your blog address (and your email address, obviously), and I’ll send you the survey link. I’m especially interested in hearing from you if you are an “ex-blogger” who wrote not exclusively all about academic stuff. And hey, I’d even be willing to include a few academic blogs in all this….

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