What is research in the virtual world?

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Excerpt:
In academia, technology is progressing rapidly and ‘digitizing’ is the new excitement that gives butterflies to the researcher’s belly. Researchers are uploading and digitizing their fieldwork findings and productions, by uploading photos to databases, creating short films, uploading books onto personal websites, or creating websites for visual consultation of their fieldwork—to name a few virtual tools. But the most interesting aspect arising from this technological progression is the way in which the virtual world is becoming a space, more or less a tool for translation. It is crossing disciplinary fields, and as a result, this overlapping is affecting the methods used in research, even the way we think and work in academia. Academia is becoming more interdisciplinary, pushing the boundaries as the exchange of ideas, methods, discourse, resources, and fieldwork approaches is becoming more fluid. As an art historian trained in the humanities, and an anthropologist trained in the social sciences, I am encountering this daily with my own work, with other undergraduate and graduate students, and even professors, librarians, Image consultants, etc.
Thesis:
The perspective of researching the research is different from selecting a subject or topic that appears foreign, waiting for us researchers to uncover and dissect. But with every relationship, both ends need to be heard. In this sense my primary objective is to explore researcher’s tools in the virtual world and whether virtual, specifically digital, methods have the consequence of distance, or encourage intimacy between the researcher and the subject(s), the virtual and physical world, and between disciplinary fields.
Purpose/Objective:
This study will push boundaries between two disciplinary fields: anthropology and art history (social sciences and the humanities) through the research of virtual spaces that act as virtual tools for the research. This will be achieved primarily by creating a database and cataloging digital images. As fields are becoming more cross interdisciplinary, the virtual world is becoming the primary space for channeling that exchange of fieldwork, discourse, methods, resources, and theories.

To read more from this paper, email art historian, Madelyne Oliver, at:
madelyne.oliver@yahoo.com

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  • 1. WHAT IS RESEARCH IN THE VIRTUALWORLD?Madelyne Oliver
  • 2. THE LITERATURE: PREFERENCES TO WEB-BASED TOOLS OR NON-WEB-BASED TOOLS AMONG SCHOLARS IN THE VISUAL ARTS•Catherine Larkin, (2010) “Looking to the Future While Learning fromthe Past: Information Seeking in the Visual Arts” Art Documentation,vol 29, n. 1. Photo courtesy of Catherine Larkin ©2010
  • 3. Photocourtesy ofCatherineLarkin ©2010
  • 4. Photocourtesy ofCatherineLarkin ©2010
  • 5. LITERATURE REVIEW CONTINUED…Jennifer Mayer and Cheryl Goldenstein (2009), “Academic librariesSupporting Visual Culture: A Survey of Image Access and Use,” ArtDocumentation, vol 28, N. 1. Photo courtesy of Catherine Larkin ©2010
  • 6. Photo courtesy ofCatherine Larkin ©2010
  • 7. Photocourtesy ofCatherineLarkin ©2010
  • 8. PREDICTIONS Visual scholars are becoming more adaptive to technologicalresources because web-based tools are used increasingly moreoften than non-web-based tools for seeking information andcollecting research, most especially images.The authority of online resources and web-based tools are stillheavily questioned by scholars and not seen as reliable as print orphysical resources and tools.
  • 9. OBJECTIVEThe purpose of this study is to push the boundaries between twodisciplinary fields: anthropology and art history (Social Sciences and theHumanities) through personal observation and interactions with thevirtual space of the online archive and labeling digital images forsubmission to SAHARA.In essence, I will explore how these web-based tools and online spaceschannel the exchange of methods, resources, and data from bothacademic disciplines and if the increasing interaction with the virtualworld encourages an intimate relationship between the researcher andthe researched subject.
  • 10. TAGGING AND CATEGORIZING…..
  • 11. EXCHANGE OF VISUAL INFORMATION: DIGITAL TOOLS AND METADATA
  • 12. COMMON WEB-BASED IMAGE RESOURCES: ONLINE IMAGE ARCHIVES ARTSTOR AND SAHARA
  • 13. WEB-BASED TOOLS/ONLINE INTERFACES EXPLORED:ZoteroSAHARASociety of Architectural Historians (www.sah.org)ARTstorJSTORJournal of the Society of Architectural Historians Online www.jsah.orgCataloging Cultural Objects (CCOALNA (Association of Librarians of North America)The Dictionary of ArtGrove Art OnlineFull TextAnthropology PlusAnthropology IndexAnthroSourceHumanities and Social Sciences Index RetrosprectiveISI Citation Databases: Social Sciences Citation Index (SSCI) (1900- present) Arts and Humanities Citation Index (AHCI) (1975- present)
  • 14. TESTING SCHOLARS’ ONLINE INFORMATION SEEKING BEHAVORS FOR THE YEAR 2011…How often do you use a computer and online tools for research? Frequency PercentAlways 4 57.1Sometimes 2 28.6None 1 14.3Total 7 100%
  • 15. What web-based tool do you utilize the most for research? Google 3 42.9 Youtube.com 3 42.9 Google Scholar 1 14.3 Total 7 100%How do you search for images?Databases (ARTstor, 5 56%SAHARA, AP images)General search 5 44%engines or imagesearch engines(Google, yahoo, flickr)Library’s 0 0collection/prind indexTotal 9 100%
  • 16. Electronic and digital images facilitate and inspire my work.Strongly Agree 2 29%Agree 5 71%Neutral 0 0%Disagree 0 0%Strongly Disagree 0 0%Total 7 100% If you believe web-based tools serve as authoritative sources, please rate the level of authority accordingly. Excellent 0 0% Good 3 43% Neutral 3 43% Fair 1 14% Poor 0 0% Total 7 100%
  • 17. WHAT DOES THE RESEARCH SAY ABOUT RESEARCH? Such web-based tools for cataloging images and articles facilitated close observations of art historians’ use of the virtual space for personal research and the public exchange of visual data. Anthropological training in participant observation aided the exploration of these web-based tools, revealing an encouraging intimate relationship between the researcher and his or her subject matter. Related literature indicated that academics frequently use web-based tools for information-collecting purposes, in which disciplinary fields overlap.