Post by David Cranswick
Well, the I-Cureus program is winding down, and now that the semester has wrapped up I have found a bit of time for some contemplation. Eight weeks ago if you had asked me about online hate, social media, or social network analysis, I probably would have shrugged my shoulders and cheerily suggested that you ask someone else, because I didn’t have a clue. Eight weeks later, via a sometimes bumpy and turbulent path, I have somehow managed to acquire a rough understanding of the basic concepts. My desktop is now cluttered with a variety of data mining and graphing software, I have logged enough hours on Flickr that I tripped my internet download limit for this month, and if certain individuals knew how long I spent going through their Twitter feeds, they would be very, very afraid. Of course I have not even scratched the surface yet, but I feel that instead of a vast unknown, I face a slightly mushy yet definable group of concepts. Which I think was the whole point of the program. While hopefully my research will contribute in some small way to the overall Hate 2.0 project, learning how to approach a totally foreign problem was an invaluable project in and of its self. Learning how to sift through the enormous quantities of literature and pull out the meaningful information, followed by learning to use the social network analysis software and theory, and then actually applying it all required an…expansion of my typical research skills. It involved moving beyond the library and textbooks, utilizing the considerable human resources available to me, tracking down academic work and projects which have been published in a very non-traditional (at least for history) medium. Then when you toss in the process of being responsible to a supervisor with deadlines and project goals, as well as being part of, and therefore bound by, a larger project, well let’s just say an undergraduate research paper doesn’t seem so bad any more. I am indebted to Professor Evans for guiding me through this project and Professor Shawn Graham for putting a friendly face on otherwise terrifying technology, as well as the rest of the Hate 2.0 team and the History Department here at Carleton.