Yesterday was a long but productive day. I initially undertook a search around social networking and social software, which includes email, instant messenger services, blogs and wiki's, group discussion systems and group diaries such as live journal. This search lead me to a number of interesting debates around the fear of technology and the internet that existed in the early 1990's to the current situation where as society becomes more technical the internet becomes more social ( The Work Foundation 2003) I decided to post a question on three internet discussion groups/forums. I used the following:
QUALRS-L an electronic discussion group for those interested in using qualitative research for studying humans.
BIOGRAPHIC-NARRATIVE-BNIM - an electronic discussion group for those with an interest in the above method
PerformSocSci newsgroup - a group interested in the performative social science element to research.
Subscribing to these groups and posting so basic information about my research truly demonstrated what the World Wide 'Web' means. A number of emails came through with links to other web based discussion groups including some specifically aimed at learning disability nursing.
Two people offered their thesis as a reference and were able to send these as email attachments. Several people pointed me in the direction of further reading around social software.
Using these networks to access a range of people I would have otherwise missed has made me reflect upon my sample and I feel confident now that these networks will be a viable and ethical approach.
People using networking sites are identifying themselves as learning disability nurses (either past or present) and often through their membership of the networks are demonstrating their wish to remain connected to others and to being 'internet savvy'.
As many proponents of narrative methods suggest the particpants need to be able to articluate their 'story', to share their experiences and to reflect upon this. My reading so far and my experience of networking leads me to feel that those who engage in social networks are often already doing all of the above.