Blog Review: Summer Social Webshop (Part Two) - Q&A with Tamara Peyton, Owen Livermore and Jennifer Kayahara
Posted by GRAND NCE, September 20, 2011

Six GRAND doctoral students representing universities across the country were selected to attend the Summer Social Webshop, a 4-day interdisciplinary workshop hosted by the University of Maryland, College Park.  Webshop participants had the opportunity to engage with leaders from a wide range of disciplines, exploring a variety of topics including Internet and Society, Social Media, Collective Action, and Policy, privacy, identity. Factor in a hurricane and the largest East Coast earthquake in more than 60 years, and you have an extraordinary event! 

Part Two:

Tamara Peyton, York University 
Owen Livermore , University of Western Ontario
Jennifer Kayahara, University of Toronto

 Describe one highlight of your experience at the Summer Social Webshop.

Tamara One of the more illuminating experiences at the workshop was the overview of social network analysis and data visualization. I haven't done formal SNA yet, so this overview was extremely valuable to me.  

Owen The highlight of the 2011 Webshop for me would have to be the moment I realized that visualizing complex sets of relationships in a data set using NodeXL was actually very much within my ability. 

Jennifer There were two main highlights of Webshop for me. The first was Jen Golbeck’s talk on her analysis of politics and Twitter, which included some interesting discussion of creative methods and data mining, as well as some preliminary analysis of the last federal election in Canada, which was a bit exciting because it’s something I’ve rarely seen.

The second highlight was the second night of student discussion, when I had the opportunity to speak to a small group of graduate students who share my interest in digital inequality. We had a great exchange of ideas and resources during that talk, and arranged to set up a Mendeley group for future sharing of material.


Q … And one challenge.

Tamara I found the focus on US politics, grants and governance challenging, as the system in the US is so very different from Canada. At times, much of the information seemed less relevant to my work as a result. 

Owen I think in future iterations of the Webshop, more opportunities for students to get together in small groups to work around a certain theme (such as methodological issues) would be very productive, and a great way for attendees to become acquainted with each other's research. 

Jennifer I don’t know if I’d call any aspect of Webshop challenging, exactly. It was certainly intense in the time required and the quantity of material we received, and of course, different sections were of greater and lesser interest given the focus of my research, but those are both inevitable and expected parts of such workshops.

The Webshop was an intense, interesting, and unique experience that provided us with exposure to fantastic speakers, smart students, and a lot of excitement over social media.

-Jennifer Kayahara, Webshop participant 

Q How will this experience improve your research?

Tamara It has shown me how I can leverage the power of social network analysis to better understand the motivations behind gamer behaviour.  

Owen I was very pleased to connect with such a diverse and knowledgeable group of social media researchers, while at the same time discovering new avenues and research methods for my own research plans.

Jennifer The biggest benefit of Webshop for me was the opportunity to connect with other researchers in my field and to hear about their work. Research is very independent, and it’s exciting and invigorating to have the chance to share ideas and work with other people in the same field.

Would you like to give kudos to a presenter or fellow researcher?

Tamara I really enjoyed Noshir Contractor's approach to creating and nurturing an online community, but my favourite presentation took place on the first day with Eszter Hargittai. Her approach to methodological rigour in mixed-methods cross-discipline research was fascinating, useful and a strong call to action that I intend to answer in my future work. 

Owen  I really enjoyed Noshir Contractor's talk regarding large social networks and the multi-theoretical multilevel model he proposes to help understand large scale social interaction online.

Jennifer As noted above, I found Jen Golbeck’s work very helpful. The presentation by Ed Chi of Google also provided some interesting insights into the inner workings of Google.

Among fellow attendees, Katy Pierce and Jen Schradie were both interesting and fantastically helpful in in the digital inequality discussion.

How about that earthquake?!

Tamara No kidding! I had gone to lunch with a fellow participant and we were heading back into the building from the enormous parking lot when it hit. The rows of parked cars started to shimmy, then shake as the ground heaved. It looked like an enormous wave or a kind of dance. Very surreal!

Owen Although the earthquake momentarily disrupted the proceedings, it actually served as a great example of social media usage, and became a focal point for the Webshop participants.

Jennifer The earthquake was an interesting experience! It was over too fast to be frightening, so I really would classify it as interesting. And, of course, very unexpected.

Summer Social Webshop (Part One): Zack Hayat, University of Toronto; Mo Guang Ying , University of Toronto; Alex Garnett, University of British Columbia 

Return to Summer Social Webshop 2011