My First Post

Hi everyone!

I thought I should begin my post by re-introducing myself.  I am currently a second year master's student in cultural anthropology.  I am interested in contemporary American culture, specifically the representation of female sexuality in pop-culture and media and how that then relates to the political.  What first influenced me to pursue this topic was a film preview from MissRepresentation.  I chose to look at this phenomenon by researching Lady Gaga who has been very vocal about political and social issues and a huge presence in contemporary media and pop-culture.

With the ultimate goal of writing up an online protocol/resource for NVivo for social science researchers in the DSSC, I have been using this text analysis program to analyze all the articles on Lady Gaga printed by major world publications.  Thus far I have already ran into plenty of issues! The first of which was I was using LexisNexis Academic as my source for these articles.  In order to be able to compare the articles in NVivo I had to download each individually.  The first day went well, I managed to pull in 1/3 of the 989 articles; I thought I'd be finished by the end of the week.  I was wrong! The next time I ran the exact same search, with the exact same sorting option (newest-oldest) I could not find where I had left off because a majority of the articles had re-organized themselves, and since I did not want to be wasting time accidentally downloading duplicates, I had to work out another way.  Ashley and I decided that we should sort the results "oldest to newest" in the hopes that they wouldn't jump around so much and also to print off a pdf version of the results so I could check off each article as I downloaded it.  This slowed down the process especially when I had to check off what articles I already had since they were all over the place, but eventually it worked out.  Although I still found that even the articles moved around, they weren't jumping entire pages which made it easier.  There was also the additional problem that 5 of the articles on the printed list had disappeared from LexisNexis and others had been added (I have 1,092 articles not 989).  So the bottom line is this was time consuming and I am unsure what sort of algorithm LexisNexis uses.

The next part of this project has been pulling all these articles into NVivo.  There was a small issue here, with something like 87 articles becoming corrupted (luckily they still open in word, so I will be re-saving them and hopefully fixing this issue so that they can be brought into NVivo too).  After meeting with Bob Scott, we decided the next best move I could make would be to code/tag the date and source of each article so that I could trace trends over time and through publication.  I am currently half-way through that task!  Although much of this work has been tedious, it has not dampened my excitement in the least. I am thoroughly excited about the possibilities that NVivo and text analysis has opened up for this project!

Lastly, I was recently recommended a video from a TED conference, The Birth of a Word because of my interests in the social and interactions with the media.  I also find it fascinating because I babysit the same little girl 15-20hrs a week, and I now wonder how my interactions with her change how/what/where she has learned.  I think this video analysis is a great example of how technology can unearth patterns that can aid social researchers!

Happy Thanksgiving all!

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