My Thesis Savior: Social Media
I posted my photos of the same art featured in my on-site research on Facebook, adding to what Palfrey and Gasser (2003) identified as the “3 billion photographs” uploaded to Facebook within just the first 4 years of launching (p. 43). By opening discussion on-line, I allowed my research to enter the realm in which I had an “unprecedented” ability to connect with the users who “have a degree of control over their cultural environment,” an important element in my research restricted by on-site low temperatures (ibid, 6). To prevent too much control over the environment, in addition to having my own Facebook friends contribute to the discussion, a friend opened the dialogue to her friends, thereby further expanding the scope of my research.
Palfrey and Gasser noted security is difficult to maintain in the digital world. In an effort to protect my participants’ identities, I hid both my research Consent Form and Facebook photo album from public view, keeping the album with participants’ comments open only to my research participants, thereby allowing them to respond to one another’s discussion, replicating the informal conversations that arose in on-site locations where I had conducted my other locational, real space interviews. I included images from the same sites in which I had conducted my on-site research. My virtual, on-line space replicated the real on-site democratic educational space I encountered in Chicago: my participants ranged in age from 19 to 81, cutting across all socioeconomic and a number cultural spheres, reflected in part in the fictional names included in my transcriptions.
In my initial contact with my on-line participants, I suggested they approach art in the same way my on-site participants did: from an artistically formal consideration keeping in mind locational perspective rather than utilizing outside sources to research images (I included photos not just of sculpture but of setting as well). I reminded my participants that since data would be used in an academic rather than casual setting, if they did at any point reference other material, they needed to cite their sources.
 In my initial contact, I asked friends to “like” my status if they wanted to participate. I then “tagged” them in a private note containing the Consent Form and Thesis Proposal. I “tagged” them in the album, reminding them if they commented or “liked” any of the photos, they agreed to the terms of my research. I reminded them that they could at any point withdrawal from the research and provided a link to my SAIC portfolio containing my Thesis, Consent Form, Interview Transcripts and Thesis Proposal https://saic.digication.com/roberta_jean_molyneux_davis/Master_s_Thesis/published.