Introduction to My Brain
I am currently finishing up the fall semester of my 2nd year at the iSchool at SU. For the first time in the year and a half that I have been here, I finally feel a sense of real comfort in what I am doing here. After struggling with it for months, I am sensing the beginnings of coherence in between my thoughts, my interests, and what is feasible for possible dissertation subjects.
In brief, I have always been fascinated with how we live our lives online and why. What motivates people to join a virtual community? How to we present ourselves online? How do we communicate in these forums, and are they fundamentally different from "real life", or face-to-face settings? What meaning to people derrive from their relationships online? While perhaps these are questions with manageable scopes on the surface, the more I dug into these questions, the more questions that arose. More situational contexts emerged to indicate that they were not narrow enough. And, essentially, these questions, while united under an umbrella, it is an overly wide and flimsy umbrella.
A much tighter focus is where I need to be as an independent scholar, and where I believe the path is becoming less obscured. I began considering my questions from an individual level, and the need to understand behavior as behavior is essentially the programming that makes the larger system of society function. Yet, the programming can really only be done at this individual level. My previous questions, while benign-sounding enough, really envelopped many different behaviors, making them somewhat problematic from the perspective of a PhD student who needs to focus down and define a "thing" that can be studied, and done so through scientifically-sound research.
The bahvior I am finding most interesting right now is Representation of Self. This is a subject that has previously received attention in the field of Infomation Science, but largely through the lens of identity. I see self-representation as a distinct element of identity, a specific behavior. This is something I am going to be thinking through, struggling with, and defining as I continually redefine it. While I have been actively doing this for about a month, I will likely be writing about this is more detail in future posts. Here, today, I am simply feeling this as the appropriate outlet for expressing joy at the process of narrowing down. Rather than do it out of pure necessity, I am glad to be able to do so out of true interest!