Looks + Substance: An Introduction to User Experience (UX)

What makes a great website great? You tell me. This is the core of UX: listening to what the user wants and needs in order to design the best possible product. For my thesis, I’m researching online survey design and the way different design choices (such as putting a logo on your survey) may affect the responses you get. My research topic was inspired by my background in UX and user-centred design, which I learned as part of my masters degree in library and information science. While UX may seem like a very specialised field, its principles and methods can […]

‘You’ve got to share. You’ve got to care’: Emotional and Creative Exchange in the My Little Pony Fandom

  Referring to themselves largely (but not uniformly) as Bronies, members of the Internet-enabled MLP (My Little Pony) fandom span multiple platforms and generate a prolific amount of artwork and an intense sense of community. The most prominent fan fiction website, FiMFiction.net, hosts over a billion words from over thirty thousand authors.[1] Reddit boasts over 50 separate subreddits (forums) dedicated to fostering community and content, from /r/MLPdrawingschool to /r/TheoryOfPony. I’ve spent the last month immersed in ethnographic study of online MLP communities, looking at ways that they share and care for one another. This blog looks briefly at some of […]

Instagram: The Next Big (Academic) Thing?

Social media is one of the most prominent areas of interest in Internet scholarship, particularly the Twitter and Facebook platforms. A quick search in Google Scholar for “Twitter” pulls up over 50,000 results just since 2014. Some have argued that these two platforms are overrepresented in research: Twitter and Facebook aren’t the only popular social media sites out there. What’s next in the field of social media studies? An excellent candidate for study is Instagram: a mobile-oriented, photo/video-sharing social network site which launched in October 2010. As of February 2015, Instagram has over 300 million active users, 70% of which […]

Data, Knowledge, and Knowing Through Data

We live in a world ruled by data in all realms, not just the scientific or mathematical but the political and the personal. This comes with both benefits and costs. The benefits are well known. The unprecedented access to evidence allows for more detailed analysis and more informed research, for instance. The costs, on the other hand, are typically tied to ethical problems raised by data collection regarding invasion of privacy, digital dossiers, and database misuse. The influx of data and our increasing willingness to turn to it, however, generates a more pernicious problem closely associated what makes our surplus […]