Considering the technicalities of technology

Hine’s (2009) article for this week particularly resonates with me, as my research topic (particularly for our research proposal assignment) concerns the relationship between specific library users and the technology used to access digital image repositories. Hine’s discussion has opened my eyes to a critical aspect of technology that I have yet to contemplate in my preparatory background research, indicating that technology inherently multi-faceted and therefore its ‘identity’ or purpose cannot be assumed in advance of conducting ethnographic research.

Evidently technology has many uses, but Hine (2009) refers more specifically to the need to carefully consider the inherent biases that lie in a researcher’s assumptions toward technology. In my research thus far, I have expelled much effort on ensuring that my methods are refined so as to produce the most reliable data possible. While I’ve analyzed and re-analyzed my research methods in an attempt to account for any biases in my approach, I feel as though I’ve yet to truly consider the contextual aspects of studying user interaction with technology. Mentioned specifically by Hohl (2009), “while we might adhere to some form of grounded approach to build theory out of qualitative data, our prior commitments help shape what we will count as being data in the first place” (p. 6). This has caused me in some ways to doubt my research design – but on the other hand it has reaffirmed my understanding of the importance of carefully describing all facets of one’s research so that complexities or areas of contention (concerning technology, for example) are explicitly addressed and not overlooked.

- Amy

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