Data, data, everywhere data!

I’m just posting to say thanks to those readers who participated in the Skryim and Cultural Heritage survey, or otherwise spread the word.

Thanks to you guys and a very jammy retweet from the Rock, Paper Shotgun Twitter account, I got  huge response in a very small amount of time. Over the course of three days, I got 333 responses (wait, I see a pattern!). I was aiming for somewhere between 50-100 responses, so I thought perhaps once I’d tripled my goal I ought to close the survey to answers.

So now I have a HUGE amount of qualitative data, and around a month to complete my dissertation. It all feels extremely daunting, but I quick read through some of the responses, and I am confident that I have lots to work with and once the work is underway, hopefully I’ll steam ahead.

Anyway, a huge thanks once again, and I’ll be back with more musings soon, I’m sure!

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Thesis writing: the most vicious of circles.

I haven’t blogged, or read the blogs of people I follow for so long, so I thought I’d just pootle by and drop a thought or two.

My time recently has been consumed by a big life change including house moving and the reconsideration of my employment prospects, but all of that has had to go on the back-burner now, because it’s time to really start to write my dissertation.

I find myself engaging in this ridiculous and rabid circle of events daily. This is the sort of psychological process that has accompanied almost every essay or piece of written work that I’ve ever composed, but because this is my Master’s thesis and it’s the first time I’ve ever done my own primary research and real life has got massively in my way and waylaid the writing process, it seems amplified tenfold.

So my days currently look something like this:

8am: Wake up feeling refreshed and ready for the day

9am: Around two hours of wonderful, optimistic productivity and a reasonable increase in word count.

11am: DISTRACTION! THE INTERNET! Something shiny! Facebook. TWITTER!

12pm: Guilt guilt guilt.

1pm: Lunch.

1.30pm: I KNOW! I’ll look for jobs so that I don’t end up having all my belongings repossessed when I fail to repay my ridiculous loan after graduation.

3pm: Utter despair and demotivation: there are no exciting jobs and I have no idea what I’m doing with my life.

3.30pm: BUGGER! Dissertation. Why aren’t I writing my dissertation?

4pm: Every word is agony…

5pm: Clearly it is time for dinner and the company of other human beings.

7pm+: Panic writing and low productivity.

At times this vicious circle amuses me and I recognise that this is the sort of battle that any academic engages in when grappling with their research, but at others I think this can’t be right, other people wouldn’t be stupid enough to put themselves through this – I must just not be cut out for this.

So I wonder, does anyone else have a similar vicious circle that they engage in when dealing with their own work? Any tips or advice? Just want to rant about your own writing process? I’m all ears!

Almost 12pm… time for a bit of guiltguiltguilt.

Research is like art.

I’ve decided to create a hashtag for my thesis topic. I already said that I plan on blogging about my research as I go, but I think tweeting it could also be really interesting. I’m really interested in the way that research happens.

Click above to go to the #archgames twitter feed

Click above to go to the #archgames twitter feed

I always thought research was a lot like creating a piece of art. Drawing or painting, for me at least, never quite goes as expected, and I never end up with what I envisaged right at the start. That doesn’t mean I’m never satisfied with the fruits of my labours, but it can sometimes mean that I lose sight of how I managed to get to the point I ended up at.

I have no doubt that being able to look back at my blog and a series of potentially incoherent, panic-stricken tweets will be enlightening. I also hope that anyone wanting to contribute to the debate/research will use the hashtag. If I feel the need to use your comments in my thesis I will, of course, ask your permission before doing so!

Anyway, tomorrow the second week of the ten-week-long summer term starts, and with it comes a thesis writing workshop, and the deadline for a 50 word abstract for the assessed lecture that we are to give on our chosen topics. I’ve always struggled with words counts, for I am the queen of rambling. I can’t help it, I’m just an absolute slave to scholarly jargon and sentences so long they could kill a (wo)man. 50 words is absolutely nothing. It’ll be a good exercise though, I’m sure.

I’ve been thinking some more about my methodology, too, and have come to the conclusion that my best bet is to conduct a sort of digital ethnographic study, focussed on players of one particular game. You guessed it… SKYRIM!* By using different data collection methods (online surveys, interviews, observation and participation on online forums, social media – the possibilities are endless! I love teh interwebz) I think I can get a really good idea of how people interact with the game and with it’s culture. A brief scan of the official Bethesda forum for General Discussion on the 5th Elder Scrolls game informs me that the words ‘archaeology’ and ‘history’ feature somewhat regularly in people’s conversations. Of course there are some other very interesting trends in topic, which I suspect play an important part in the identity creation process.  My whole research premise rides on the idea that the past can be used as an arena for identity creation. 

These are subjects that really excite and interest me, and whilst it might look like they’re very vague, I am sure that archaeology and ideas about the past play an important, albeit subconscious part in most interactions of this sort. I have so many little tangents that I want to go off on in this post already, but it’s almost 1am, and I promised myself this would be a short post and that I’d save the juicy stuff for longer, more involved posts.

As always, thoughts and contributions are welcomed with open arms.

*I think my next post is going to have to be a justification for this particular choice