‘Fill my little world right up’[1]

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I’ve spoken to quite a few people who have extolled the virtues of ‘Pinterest’ as a way to pool visual ideas and inspiration for crafts and making projects. This platform appeals to me for a couple of reasons; firstly because of its visual appeal and secondly because of the way in which it enables you to create an instant visual map of other sources, particularly where you might have seen something on a web site or other platform somewhere, which you are mentally storing for a future project. Pinterest enables you to assemble all of these on virtual pinboard so that you can create your own inspiration board.

In terms of my research, Pinterest is also appealing to me because I am interested in using visual methods in qualitative social research, and I’m also interested in the socio-cultural foundations of craft and creative practice, which ostensibly means that I’m looking at how individuals thought processes and craft practices are influences and informed by a broader cultural ‘force-field’ of practices and ideas.

I think the difficulty in getting started though is in having too much or too little to put on your Pinterest, and settling on the right amount of sites to make it interesting without being overwhelming.

You can start, for example, by browsing ‘DIY and craft’ and you are faced with a myriad of different options and it’s difficult to know where to start.  And it forces you to make decisions and choices about what you really do or don’t want to look at.

You can also create multiple boards for different topic areas, so you can create a board for crafts or for other areas that interest you such as film, music and books or food and drink – whatever takes your fancy.  It’s almost like a lifestyle organisation platform which could be almost as much about cataloguing and archiving all of these different sources as a means to express your own individuality.  I think it would even be possible to create a Pinterest board for a research project, particularly if you are using multiple internet sources as part of the material for your analysis.

Pinterest allows you to create a ‘visual identity’ which might only reflect a part of who you are or what you do.  So in the brief description (where you’re only afforded 200 characters to describe yourself, so for example I’ve not been able to make any reference to my day job despite the fact that it’s the thing that takes up most of my time.  Yet Pinterest allows you to do create this world – almost like a shop-front for your life and how you would like to project yourself.

As a starting point, I’ve delved into my Facebook ‘likes’ and have pinned these to various boards which I’ve just created as a foundation which I can come back to and develop later. The end result for me is a pleasing mix of exciting and stimulating visual imagery which are also comforting in terms of their familiarity.  It’s a little world that I’m quite happy to lose myself in from time to time.


[1] The Feeling – from Twelve Stops and Home, Island Records, 2006 

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‘Hooking up’

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Life as a researcher, particularly as a part-time PhD student, can be a very lonely one.  Even if you’re with people every day, it’s unlikely that you’ll be able to talk to them at length about the intricacies of your research without their eyes glazing over.

 

Conferences provide the ideal opportunity to chew the fat with those who are equally as nerdy, erm, I mean passionate about similar subjects.

 

So networking tools really provide the opportunity to connect with like-minded people across the world, in a way which has not been accessible to earlier ‘generations’ of early career researchers. Admittedly they’re not without their disadvantages; both twitter and Facebook are excellent distraction and procrastination tools. But I guess if used productively they can also help you to raise your own profile whilst seeing who else is out there to talk to about your research.

 

As I’ve suggested before, different platforms for networking may lead to very different adventures and modes of interaction. I’ve settled into a pattern now of using Twitter as my platform of choice for (mostly) research-related stuff, but I’m still learning.  So far I’ve found it really helpful for asking research related questions and sharing experiences (for example, about the process and experience of gaining ethical approval for my research project). #phdchat is a really useful hashtag for reaching fellow phd-ers and a useful support network too.

 

Undoubtedly, twitter has lots of potential and I wonder whether I will be able to take advantage of what it has to offer in the months/years to come I’m currently using the guidance from the Digital Tools for Research programme at Warwick University, and a useful short guide prepared by the LSE Public Policy Group ‘Using Twitter in university research, teaching and impact activities’[1] which is really more of a beginners’ guide.

 

‘Lanyrd’ is another social networking platform, which is designed to bring together ‘virtual’ and ‘face-to-face’ forms of networking. As I understand it it’s a way of registering your attendance at particular conferences (mainly academic I think, but not exclusively).  I’m a lanyrd novice, and I’d be interested to hear of others’ experiences. I’ve managed to get as far as signing up for this service via twitter although the link with twitter seems to be a bit temperamental. Lanyrd and twitter seems to reinforce each other, so the more followers (or followees) you have on twitter who share similar interests, the more you’re likely to have relevant events ‘pop-up’ when you go into lanyrd.

 

I think this is another platform which I’ll get to know over time.  It will be interesting to see whether it becomes more popular for academic or non-academic events (from my perspective it would certainly be useful for any type of gathering, be it academic, policy or practitioner).

 

For now though, it’s back to the solitary world of research….