Women Videobloggers and YouTube: Participatory Informal Digital Learning and Open-Access Web-Based Research
This research project engages female videobloggers (vloggers) to develop three aspects of internet studies presently unexplored in existing literature.
(1) Unique web-based methodology: First, we are developing an innovative and experimental web-based methodology: rather than conducting the traditional â€œconfidentialâ€ interviews, we interview female videobloggers within the very medium they themselves have chosen for public, creative, and political expression: YouTube. We will develop interview questions in a You Tube video post (filmed and posted by Kelly Ladd, under the supervision of the Dr. Megan Boler) and the female videobloggers will respond through their own YouTube channels and videopost responses. Thus the research conversation will be (a) immediately transparent and open to the public; (b) â€œanswersâ€ will remain under the participantsâ€™ â€œownership,â€ thereby creating a new model of open access and transparency of research process too often hidden by traditional ethics protocols. Participants will control their own confidentiality concerns by filming their own responses and choosing how and what they wish to publish on YouTube.
(2) New research directions regarding womenâ€™s online practices. Through an online survey of 300 women vloggers and through our in-depth interviews, we aim to explore vloggersâ€™ insights regarding
â€¢ diverse expressions of gendered identities,
â€¢ online audiences and cross-gender dialogue and response,
â€¢ our Open Access Research Design using their platform of choice, YouTube
â€¢ womenâ€™s under-representation within web-based communities
(3) Making Research Public through Digital Media: Our final aim through our â€œYouTube Research Channelâ€ is to enable and invite public comments and response. Though this open and transparent process we aim to engage scholars, students, and wider publics in research that is usually â€œblack boxedâ€ and not made public until years after the research has been conducted. Our project will demonstrate how innovative social tools such as YouTube can be effectively used for social science and humanities research to engage subjects as collaborative peer experts. Our innovative approach to posting interviews through online YouTube videos and having participants respond via videoposts, in turn commented on by the public, allows for a truly open access, collaborative, and public research process.