Photos from the Qualitative Congress, QI2009

I carried my camera with me at all times, though generally forgot to take it out and use it, being so busy liveblogging! Here are the few I did manage to take.

Note to self—take more at my next conference (that begins on Wednesday, as a matter of fact). I only have one more this year, AERC2009, but more about that later.


Revision: Panel Discussion on Carolyn Ellis’s Text

We are crushed into a room much too small for the number of people present (any hear of “fire hazard”?). I wonder if it will be a metaphor for what it to come.

Laurel Richardson is introducing the theme of this most interesting session looking at Carolyn’s newest work, Revision. The panel will read parts of her book and then ask Carolyn questions about it. What an interesting panel discussion concept.

Laurel reads Carolyn’s opening paragraph, and why she decided to begin with this paragraph, which is about a dream sequence. Carolyn intentionally does not say what dreams mean. She often speaks and then asks questions about them. This reminds me of my own work, which cannot happen without semicolons and parentheses. Carolyn says that questions often generate new ones and on and on. I am thinking about how my own autoethnographic voice is developing, and how Carolyn reminded me before this session to email her the link to my blog where I have been liveblogging the conference.

This dream sequence is about autoethnography itself, especially about drawing lines and crossing them, and being aware of whether some people will be concerned with it, or not. How much is the dream and how much do we put there ourselves?

Laurel is reading one last sentence, around the narrative challenge that leads into the other challenges that really lead to the heart of the book (pg. 13). Glad I already bought this book right when it came out. I have not yet read it, as I have been crazed with work and teaching and doctoral studies. I suppose it will be the one that is next on the list to read upon my return, especially after finally meeting Carolyn and now seeing her read in my mind’s eye when I now read her works.

The detail Carolyn chooses to tell or not tell, and how issues of gender affects the tales. This next panelist, Jonathan Wyatt, wants to know more about the writing process. He then did a similar form of writing as Carolyn did. It seems the questions were wound within his own story modeled off Carolyn’s work.

When Carolyn first started writing, she was told to “just write everything” and then delete later. She tries to put herself back in the moment when she writes, and puts it all down. When she writes stories, as opposed to prose which is written and rewritten, it seems it just comes to her and she put it down on the page. With her stories, there is often something that happens that urges the story on. She does not always choose to put much back story into the work, and the question is when does back story come in and when should it be placed away. For the scene with the classroom, she considered the variety and complexity of the realm of positions that exist in a room.

Julie White reads from chapter 11. She reads from Barack Obama who promises to end the war and the culture of fear. I love Barack Obama, but I do not think he has done a lot to end the war and make thee world a safer place. Maybe it is unrealistic on my behalf to expect it to happen so quickly. Oh, Julie is still reading, now about Carolyn’s flying at the time of September 11. This brings me back to 9/11, when I was still teaching and we were on strike when the attacks happened. Julie continues about how the radio news reporters help Carolyn to feel not quite so alone. I am having trouble paying attention. I recall seeing parents covered in dust and debris walk into our school to fetch their children later on the morning of the attack. They walked from the World Trade to us on East 56th Street. They walked since all mass transit in NY was shut down. It stopped for some time, as the powers that be did whatever they had in mind to make them want to stop the entire subway system. Carolyn continues speaking through Julie’s reading, about the taxi driver who raises many of the issues about people who resemble those terrorists who changed so many things now eight years ago. Julie talked about how the media became everybody’s lifeline in Australia, where there were horrible fires that killed hundreds and destroyed thousands.

Carolyn became obsessed with the moment to moment life after the event of 9/11. She ended the book with the quote from Barack Obama, which she felt was the first time there was hope coming after the many difficult years after 9/11. Carolyn had a number of episodes to discuss, as well as addressing the issues where to bring in literature and analysis.

Norman Denzin is speaking now, where he said that this is a very important book in the autoethnographic genre and methodology. He asks how to hold it all together, now after the difficulties since 9/11, and how there is now the Obama hope. Denzin read about Carolyn’s initial shower scene, and he flashed to the Psycho shower scene. He then speaks about a shower scene in Brian De Palma’s Dressed to Kill (not familiar with this movie). I agree with Norm, where he said that he “does not take anything as innocent.” There is not an innocent scene, and there is not anything innocent or unconnected or isolated; whose reading is it?

Carolyn, when she heard Norm speak about the shower scene, she in turn went to the showers in the Holocaust. Interesting how these themes turn to one another, and move one another forward. How images and shared culture leads one to move meaning along. What about those who may not have the shared memories, or have the same memories but from an alternate perspective? Isn’t that what most of our sessions here at the Congress all about.

Laurel is reading again, though I did not hear the context as I was musing in my own experiences. I wonder if there is ever any way to encounter context than through musing on my own context?

Laurel mentions the richness of the book in that the readers / panelists read the text in so many different ways. Carolyn’s goal is for us to go out and have conversations about this book and about our experiences, in addition to encouraging people to go and write.

Carolyn tells that she has a lot of strategies to not have to face death, at least for some time. She laughs, she thinks positively, and in general enjoys life. Good suggestions here.


Critical Investigations around Prop 8 at QI2009

I have not seen much work in the Qualitative Congress around issues that address topics of GLBT issues.

With such an interesting topic (about which I seem to know rather little), it at first seems unfortunate that the first presenter is reading his paper. It seems like it may make a useful discussion instead of a paper read at us, but given how this topic does rivet interest and passion, perhaps it may turn into a qualitative bitch session where research goes out the window if there were not a formal presentation. Interesting thing  to consider while listening to the paper itself, especially with the very specific legal issues that are being mentioned. Interesting how there is some work that the presenter is using around the way things are defined, and how these are legalistic issues. Really interesting researched essay, with research meaning finding legal sources, but I am not clear where the research is from this perspective of social research. I kept looking for method, data, etc. Perhaps this is more of an autoethnographic piece? I think I may need to read it . . .

Another person is speaking now, and he mentioned he searched through the literature (LA Times newspaper) and did an analysis for dominant themes. This person mentioned that the term “sexual preference” was not used, with the term sexual orientation used instead (seeming to remove the concept of preference and choice). Another theme is that this is the will of the majority (those who passed the initial law), and then there was another theme of prominent persons and organizations that do or do not support this proposition. What came across, is that the newspaper did not seem to be anti-gay, but rather, as the presenter stated, “gay people being gay together.” Clever.

The third presentation had an initial statement about how his work has since developed, and the paper coming out of the conference will be further developed. Interesting reflection about how the ‘”change” promised by President Obama means only change for some, given that Proposition 8 passed in California at the same time. He then read from an essay by Keith Oberman. He did a nice job merging the essay in with his own interpretation, and as a read piece it was quite engaging. In some ways, this is like a model for how to read a paper that is well-written, and would probably contain the clear quotation marks which would demonstrate where one work begins and the other comments upon it. Nice wrap up by asking how a Congress, such as QI2009 which so promotes social justice, invites us to take our experiences and then move forward back into the world to  do something.

The next speaker is addressing some interesting work from a colonial / post-colonial perspective. She sais she was going to have a discussion about all this, but there has not been much discussion yet. Her perspective about the differences between various divisions of the world from various postcolonial perspectives. Really interesting ideas, but I am struggling to follow the emphasis of her work. Perhaps it is because I saw a little spider that was crawling across the floor and was distracted trying to not kill it by just making normal movements.

There is finally an autoethnographic performance read by a colleague of a person who was not able to attend the conference and present it herself. Quite a good dramatic reading this person is doing. Very engaging presentation. I wonder if this is how autoethnographic work can be performed?

Now time for discussion and questions. Interesting elaboration on the postcolonial presentation, especially how these issues that are raised in that way do not often come into these issues. Issues such as those who are involved in key movements and struggles about nation building (cf. Hegel). Postcolonialism has a distinction with various states and how states are in fact always changing and developing. Interesting discussion about allies and what that may or may not mean.

I like how the moderator, Keith Berry, continually brought the discussion back to research, such as ethnography and such. Quite a good job with this.


Humanistic Issues Regarding Qualitative Data Analysis Software (QDAS)

This session is about people who are aware of software and software issues to provide insight into using these applications.

Kristi Jackson, the first speaker, is speaking about Transparency:

  • QDAS
  • Qualitative Standards Advocates
  • Philosophy of the Mind
  • Objectivity
  • Constructionism
  • Representation
  • Feminism
  • Qualitative Standards Critics

She is basing this on the Lave and Wenger CoP framework. This work came out of her reading of Denzin’s critique of transparency as a form of control. Not familiar with this, have to look it up as control issues are insidious with hegemonic issues. She also refers to Richard (2005, p. 191). These conversations have come up around issues around coding—is the process for how the codes and analysis done transparent and how it should or should not be done / studied. Transparency is often associated with linking theory to research and making it available for investigation. AERA has a report, “Standards for Reporting on Empirical Social Science Research,” which has  caused quite a stir. Transparency with philosophy of mind seems to posit objectivity. Berger and Luckmann (1966) with constructionism. She does not think that the CoP of qualitative folks have done a sufficient work around the issue in and around transparency.

Silvana di Gregorio is presenting again, this time about E-Projects. I had the opportunity to speak with her after the last presentation, and I really like the work she is doing with software and Web 2.0 and qualitative research. E-projects are easily portable and consolidated in one place. Respect for persons, beneficence, justice all come from the Belmont Report, which then is an issue around how e-issues. For example, informed consent should tell people that those data will be electronically stored. In the US, there is a move to destroy data when its use is complete, and in the UK there is an emphasis to keep the data. Informed consent seems to be a large issue, especially for all of the issues. She mentioned the EU Safe Harbor Scheme, which is something to address issues of data portability is working on data between the US and the EU—I think I need to look more into this, as I will need to look into these issues more. What a rich area of investigation.

i only draw with software The third speaker is Cesar A. Cisneros-Puebla, and challenges from the periphery with QDAS and issues. He showed a great cartoon from the New Yorker. He is showing interesting how qualitative software is seen in different ways around the world, such as FQS: Forum Qualitative Social Research in Germany (which I now review for!). I really like his global approach.

While Cesar is speaking, I decided I want to get the image he used (just got it) and add some links. In this way, liveblogging is getting increasingly difficult since there is so much to look for.

Two of the other presenters did not attend, and this is allowing, for the first time in this very busy conference, for us to ask questions and have a discussion around this area.

There was a question about how the qualitative data analysis software is based around an English-based way of processing information (such as try to highlight an action or what is being looked for). This led into a discussion around standards with readability and how it works when being translated into other languages and how the images and even thinking about culture is significant. Reminds me of my work with health literacy.


Qualitative Data Analysis Software (QDAS) & Web 2.0

This is an 8:00 am session, and is somewhat light with people right now. The title in this presentation is very long, and is about using QDAS with some of the more boundary-pushing qualitative research strategies. This sounds exactly like the sort of presentation I need, as I want to explore which of the software options out there that I want to explore this summer.

I have struggled how to do this with some of the areas of qualitative research I am interested in pursuing. The speaker is speaking about how she was struggling with the experience of the qualitative research class and the art she was doing.

Judith Ann Davidson at U Mass – Lowell is doing a fascinating reflection of where she belongs with the different worlds growing up, especially around issues of gender and cultural norms and expectations. She used collage and poetry as a way of expressing her qualitative findings. She likens this to the multiple forms of visualization that is available in these tools. She suggests using QDAS with performance ethnography, arts-based research, and autoethnography. She then passed around her visual journal project with painting, poetry, and collage.

Kerry Frances Donohoe is now speaking about portraiture and QDAS. She discovered Sarah Lawrence Lightfoot (sound interesting, will have  to look her up). She used document analysis, observation, visual data, and semi-structured interviews. She used NVivo as an organizational tool to combine the data. She showed a wonderful image she created for her dissertation using the NVivo Modeler to visually represent her work. NVivo helped with this process to organize what was difficult to traditionally show.

Now Silvana di Gregorio is now speaking about Digital life histories: Digital analysis. She started by speaking how she studied e-research and learning forms that she started to learn more about the great amount of sharing of personal story online (blogging, Web 2.0, etc.)—all without the help of academia! “Lay” life history, such as personal videos, uploading pictures, scrapbooks, and the like—there is a voyeuristic edge in reading the lives of others and wanting to keep parts of our own private. She then spoke about Justin Hall, who began personal blogging in 1994 and then blogged for 11 years. He created a YouTube video during his breakdown. He started to blog to socialize, but then lost all his friends because he revealed too much and ended up being alone. He stopped blogging and then started to gain friends again. Interesting story; have never heard of it before. Will have to look it up. She then spoke about vlogs, and how people often started speaking about how-to things and then this is about their own lives, such as 10-minute life history (such as Dave of Davesfarm in London, Ontario). Flickr and YouTube are both very similar in how their sites are organized. Tagging and folksonomies are enabling community. She even spoke  about Google Labs, which is experimenting to searching for the spoken word within videos. Finally, the Semantic Web (Web 3.0) is mentioned, but unfortunately at this point she is racing since she is running out of time.

There was another presentation which I just did not get. I think I may be on overload.

Great question time now, where there was a question about coding images and how reflective memoing works with it, and then link them to the questions. One of the people discussed the powerful memoing tools in NVivo. One person said that the memoing tools are even more powerful to use than the coding tools. Tools such as NVivo are very complicated to learn to use. There are some web tools that are being created and used. There was even a nice discussion about the shelf-life of some of these practices. They then recommended using DiRT (Digital Research Tools) dirt and delicious.

In summary, this is like coding in a new way, and reaching out to the tag rather than staying within a cocoon. Really interesting work moving into the future.


Narrative Inquiry and Education

Narrative Interviewing and Narrative Writing. Issues around meaning making, words, and identity development. Transformative narratives cf. Grant, 2007. Nice sharing of autobiographical drawings to show parts of one’s life as  a story in pictures while learning English, develops though the stories of childhood and learning. There was a storyline of hope that emerges and then later gets more developed, and alternative storylines that then develop, such as around caring for family. There are two cases that are being discussed.

There is now discussion about transformative learning that happens within the creation of multiple stories and the construction of meaning in the process. Movements from verbal to drawings, from secrets to mutual valuing, and then going to the one view to multiple views.

There was a change that happened with the second case person, once the writing and narrative took the form of story, as opposed to school topic. She constructed herself through her writing and self-storytelling.

I want to learn more about this narrative identity construction.

This student developed a new learner identity through this narrative writing, with the multiple viewings that this research included.

The second presentation was about discourse analysis, as per Gee 2005, 1999, 1990. Discourse is about using language and representing  through writing. All of us are involved in multiple discourses, the question about how to identify those that influence us to decide, distinguish, and develop. We seem to have an internally dominant discourse (IDD). The IDD shifts in life and experiences (in this case, from test-oriented to self-oriented and from focus on form to focus on meaning.

Implications for this research in and around writing. If writing is defined by the internally-dominated discourse, then how change and develop them. Negative and oppressive IDD’s need to shift, so as educators, how do we shift these?

Creative representational practices, and the process of being and becoming a practitioner and educator and researcher and a scholar—part of the second presenter. Creative and representation within social work, especially when evidence-based practice pushes things to the edge. I wish this presenter would look at us when she is speaking to us as audience.

She is speaking about the use of self. She interviewed and conducted focus groups on how we teach practitioners to conduct reflective practice and the use of self in one’s own development. How do we as educators impress and show the use of self as an important component of understanding and knowing.

Her looking down while she speaks and very rapid speech and awkward stance and choppy motions; I am very distracted. I feel so spoken at. I know that many people  read their papers at academic conferences, but here it seems like a power issue; ironic, as this presenter is a PhD in social work.

It is interesting that she is using poetry she wrote to give examples of what she is trying to illustrate. The poems are getting smaller and smaller on the overhead. This last one she shows, though out of time, is so small that we (or at least I) cannot see it. Wonder what it means? Hope it is clearer to her students at least.

Two of the presenters did not show up, so there is now more time for question.


New Directions in Autoethnography & My Presentation on Autoethnographic Liveblogging

This was my own research session, along with 5 other papers that were presented during the early morning of the first full-day of the QI2009 conference.

My paper was entitled Liveblogging as Autoethnography: Exploring Blogging for Meaning Making, Power, and Positionality:

Using constructivist and critical theorist lenses, this paper will be an autoethnographic exploration of the experience of liveblogging (the practice of blogging and posting the results in real-time). The author has engaged in liveblogging several academic and practitioner conferences, and will explore what liveblogging is and how it is an opportunity for an attendee to publicly and collaboratively engage in meaning-making by sharing in the presentation itself using just-in-time reflective practice. It will be argued that liveblogging conferences promotes democratic knowledge exchanges and expanded possibilities for research.

The other presentations were rather varied, with wonderful issues that were raised about digital storytelling, troubleshooting lying about getting a PhD and getting fired, and even inanimate autoethnographic experiences.

I got some really good ideas, especially about exploring ethical issues with liveblogging autoethnography, expressing the experiences more as stories, and including more theoretical issues in my work in reall time.

I  want to revise my paper and look to publish it, as there is little work out there right now.