It is time to revive this blog. Yes, I realize my last post, dated more than 15 months ago, stated that I was going to blog more. However, I am now entering the third year of my PhD program, which means a few things: (1) my class-load has significantly decreased, and (2) I have a *lot* of writing in my future. As I prepared to return to Michigan for the new semester, I made a list of things I wanted to do when I got back to Lansing to help me be as productive as possible, and one thing that certainly helped me to be thinking creatively and critically while writing my master’s thesis was this blog. Keeping a blog related to my research interests helps me stay abreast of current issues in my field and to go beyond just a basic intake of information to considering how a specific piece of information fits into the bigger picture.
Because of this, I have made it a personal goal to blog as least twice each week during the next academic year on topics related to my area of specialization. And what, you ask, is my specialization? I study how online communication technologies impact relationships between individuals and groups, and how these technologies enhance, supplement, or detract from offline relationships. A lot of my research looks at the role of online social networking–and specifically the role of Facebook–in relational maintenance (see my CV for specific pieces I’ve written). However, my interests expand far beyond social network sites to online games, instant messaging, video chat, email, etc. If it involves computer-mediated communication, I’m probably interested in it.
This upcoming semester, I’ll be working on a number of projects that relate to these interests, and I’ll blog about my progress on them as I go along. And, on a positive note, I recently had three papers accepted to HICSS 2011 (Hawaii International Conference on System Sciences), which means a trip to Hawaii this January (woot!). The papers cover a wide range of topics: social network games, the relationship between bonding social capital outcomes and Facebook use, and the relationship between the avatar creation process and expectation of future interaction. Once those manuscripts are finalized, I will post .pdfs to my CV.