This week we took a break from readings and reviewed each others initial research topic proposals. I believe that the idea is for these research proposals to feed into the work we do in next semester’s seminar, which ultimately leads up to our integration paper that culminates our class work, and then feeds into our dissertation. It’s not really appropriate for me to share my classmates ideas here, but I will say that I was really struck by how varied and interesting they were: methods for studying citizen science, values in design, trauma in information systems. Our discussion was useful because it revealed the degree to which I actually missed the intent behind the proposals. I also got some useful feedback about mine, which mostly brought home that I have yet to express an actual research project!

I do know that I’m interested in studying web archives. I’ve initially been focused on appraisal: how we decide what goes into Web archives, and how computers can assist in those decisions, specifically social media streams. But there is such a strong Human Computer Interaction lab at UMD that it feels like it would be a wasted opportunity not to tap into this more in the design of these web archive systems. Similarly the strengths of the Ethics and Design Lab seem like another important area to draw on. I think I’ve been focused on the digital curation because of my background, but the design of these archival systems, so that they support the varied values of curation is important to me, and is something that I would like to build into my research.

For example I want my research to support a particular set of data curation values: open access, knowledge sharing, diversity, community development and transparency ; rather than law enforcement, surveillance, and militarization. So much of information technology is dual use, and I am interested in ways of influencing use over time–so called opinionated software. I guess this is what motivated Richard Stallman’s work on the [GNU General Public License] which has had such a profound effect on the software development community. The [Creative Commons] licenses and movement that folks like Aaron Swartz and Lawrence Lessig worked on, also comes to mind. These individuals had very clearly articulated lineage of values, and I feel like it’s useful to tap into this as part of my research work, rather than letting it be completely technical and agnostic about use.