Archive for the ‘Second Life interviews’ Category

I’m in the final stretch of data gathering, hoping to squeeze in a couple more interviews this weekend and perhaps one more observation.  This next Monday, April 7th is the day I’m cutting myself off. It’s time to stop the madness!! I’ve come to a conclusion that it’s not the amount of data that’s the most important…it’s the quality of the analysis.

The corpus of data assembled thus far is truly astounding. It’s so multi-faceted, with chat transcript or voice transcription, snapshots, video captures plus audio field notes indicating the on-screen action. There are so many factors to consider in even a short SL interaction.

As my analysis has progressed from inductive generation of categories through open coding, I’ve now moved on to coding only defined instances of information seeking behavior. This, in essence, is my unit of analysis. Observations include many, and the ‘critical incidence’ interview structure that has evolved yields at least one (usually more) stories of information seeking experiences.

I look forward to officially wrapping up my data gathering this weekend and moving on for the final stretch of analysis.


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I’ve developed two slightly different analysis forms from what I’d first posted to this blog. They’re spreadsheets to help with the process of recording data from my SL interviews & observations, and then to analyze that data.

One <very obvious!> issue I’d neglected when putting together my analysis form is that a Word document doesn’t offer what I needed to analyze reams of resulting coding. As the content of my analysis forms had been working just fine, I simply converted them into spreadsheets. I’d post my new analysis templates here, but alas, WordPress is not fond of the .xls format.

Simplicity works….just in spreadsheet format this time.

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Interview Analysis Tool

I’ve developed a simple form to help me analyze my in-world interviews. After using it for faux-analysis of my pilot interview, it’s working pretty well. What I still need to work out, however, is what kind of coding I’ll be using — time to return to the research methods texts.

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After refining my questions, my interview protocol is now as follows:

Pre-interview issues:

Let’s use IM to chat for privacy.

“Have you read the information provided to you in the Informed Consent notecard?”

“Do you voluntarily agree to participate in this interview?”

“Are there any questions I can answer for you before we begin?”

Interview questions:

1) Tell me about why you use Second Life

2) Try to remember the last time that you wanted to know about something and you used SL to pursue the issue. This can be big or small, important or trivial. Tell me about what you needed & what you did about it.

  • What prompted you to be looking for this information in the first place?
  • How did you try to get at the information you needed?
  • What was the result?
  • What would you say was most important in this process of trying to find what you needed, using SL?

3) What SL tools, resources or information would you recommend to a friend?

  • How did you find these tools/resources/information?

4) What things have been barriers to your getting the information, help or resources you need in SL?

5) How would you say trying to find information in SL compares to RL?

Closing questions:

“I would like to ask you about some RL information. How do you feel about that? Again, everything you share with me is kept totally confidential, and you can choose not to answer if you don’t want to without explaining anything to me.”

6) Demographic information

  • Country you live in
  • Age
  • Ethnicity or Race
  • Gender
  • Profession
  • Educational background
  • First language

7) Quick questions:

  • When did you first start using SL?
  • How often & for how long do you use SL?
  • Have you ever used a library in SL? Why?
  • Do you use libraries in RL?

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As I’ve mentioned, verbal field notes have made my research process simpler, both in interviewing and observing. A protocol involving verbal field notes is not without its challenges, as this pilot stage of my project has taught me. What have I learned so far?

  • Transcribe immediately. After every observation/interview, I budget the appropriate amount of time for transcription of verbal field notes. Waiting until later loses some of the ‘freshness’ of the experience.
  • Say time stamps every 2-5 minutes. Repeating the time stamps found in the chat transcript makes it a heck of a lot easier when transcribing. This avoids having to fish through the transcript to find the part that the audio field notes are referring to. 

    Pause audio recording. During chat sessions, there are routinely ‘silent’ periods where the other person is typing and I have nothing to comment on (this is especially true during interviews). Pausing creates a much more efficient audio transcript for transcription.

  • Remember to talk. As obvious as it may seem, this has been my main problem. The pilot observations/interviews I’ve conducted have helped get me into the ‘practice’ of keeping up a somewhat constant verbal accounting of what is happening. At first, ‘talking’ seemed to pull me away from the immersive experience of feeling totally ‘in-world’ within SL. With practice, however, I’m able to verbally record my thoughts while still remaining present in my in-world experience.
  • Include both action & reflection notes. It’s easiest to just describe the action. But an ethnographic approach calls for fieldnotes of both activity and the researcher’s reflective process and thoughts. Visualizing a table split between “Activity” and “Reflection” helped so much that I created one. While I don’t use it for recording, I do place it next to the computer as a reminder — this seems to work well for me.
  • Have a pen at the ready. Even though I’ve set up my data collection tools (saved chat transcripts, video capture & verbal field notes) to be all-digital-all-the-time, I’ve also found that I want to jot things down. When this first happened, it was during a critical moment when I did not want to leave the computer, but I had no pen/paper available.

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Audacity logo 


Audacity is my new favorite tool as a researcher. Thanks to another great suggestion by Jim Oliver, MLIS IT guru at St. Kate’s, I’m recording my fieldnotes verbally. I met with Jim last week over some technical frustrations around trying to make screen capture work with my SL sessions. We talked about a crazy plan I’d come up with involving dueling lap tops: 1 running only SL with my avatar Testy Outlander for ease of navigation AND #2 running SL with another avatar just for screen-capture recording purposes. Additionally, I somehow thought I’d be able to take field notes (pen & paper, no computer).  When it was all said and done, I would have needed something like 14 hands to actually make this plan workable.

Jim casually asked, why not take your field notes by voice? Bingo! Brilliant, simple, and a possibility I’d totally overlooked. The best part is that Audacity can run at the same time as SL with no disruption to SL performance that I’ve been able to detect — at least not on the faster, sleeker work lap top I’m now using for my SL sessions. (It’s just a Dell D600, not that sleek at all….but worlds better than my much older, much slower personal lap top).

So, I’m now using just one lap top, running Audacity in the background constantly as I do interviews or observations, and using Jing for occasional screen capture (read all about how I’m using Jing in my previous blog post).

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This is how the Informed Consent Notecard displays. I give it to any avatar participating in an interview with me in Second Life. I also ask for confirmation that they have read it and agree to it at the start of the interview (in lieu of what would normally be a signature on an Informed Consent form in real life research).

Informed Consent Notecard

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