[Air-L] PhD Seminar

Dixi Louise Strand dixi at ruc.dk
Thu Jun 25 00:03:01 PDT 2009

Analytical strategies and methodologies for the study of virtual worlds

Ph.d. seminar, September 28th 12:00 - October 1st 13:00 2009, Roskilde  
University, Denmark

Aim: To explore different methodological approaches in relation to the  
particularities of virtual worlds

Invited professors and staff:

Associate Professor TL Taylor, Center for Computer Games Research, IT  
University of Copenhagen

Professor Thomas Köhler, University Innsbruck School of Management

Academic Associate Greg Wadley, Department of Information Systems, The  
University of Melbourne

Associate Professor Maja Horst, Department of Management, Politics and  
Philosophy, Copenhagen Business School

Associate Professor Louise Phillips, Department of Communication,  
Business and Information Technologies, Roskilde University

Post. Doc. CarrieLynn Reinhard, Department of Communication, Business  
and Information Technologies, Roskilde University

Professor Sisse Siggaard Jensen, Department of Communication, Business  
and Information Technologies, Roskilde University

Assertions about the significance of virtual worlds for innovation,  
business, and society circulate in media and public debate. Virtual  
worlds such as Second Life, EverQuest, Eve and World of Warcraft are  
inhabited by millions of people around the world. They are complex and  
involve intricate systems and several classes and characters that can  
be upgraded, transformed and multiplied. In a world such as Second  
Life, the virtual world resident’s co-design of the world is pivotal.  
Proficiency in scripting and graphic design facilitates the creation  
of self-produced objects, and systems exist for trading objects and  
virtual property in the virtual world currencies. ‘Virtual’ forms of  
communication, organisation, management, knowledge sharing and market  
dynamics have emerged along with these worlds. Likewise, a new field  
of academic inquiry is developing.

Online ethnography, netography, and virtual ethnography were terms  
coined to designate the use of ethnographic methods and approaches to  
the study of computer-mediated practices. How can these methods be  
applied effectively to produce good analyses of virtual worlds? In  
what ways do ethnography of virtual interaction and communication  
extend and transform traditional approaches to field study,  
participant observation, interviewing, or discourse analysis? What are  
the specific methodological challenges when studying practices in  
which user-based design, transformation and co-creation are pivotal?  
What role might the notions of ‘laboratory’ and ‘experiments’ play,  
offline or online? This Ph.D. seminar brings together a number of  
contributors to illuminate such questions.

T.L. Taylor (IT University of Copenhagen) specialises in researching  
the culture of online communities, e.g. massively multiplayer online  
games like EverQuest and World of Warcraft, as well as non-game  
virtual worlds. Her most recent work is on the professional computer  
gaming scene (such as the World Cyber Games) and the culture of high- 
end competitive play. Her analytical strategy combines ethnography,  
actor-network theory and a variety of qualitative methods. Thomas  
Köhler (University Innsbruck School of Management) has explored the  
opportunities virtual worlds offer for real-world innovation and how  
virtual worlds can be employed systematically for innovation  
management. His research draws upon ethnography, sociology, and in  
particular, grounded theory. Greg Wadley (University of Melbourne)  
conducts research on communication and collaboration in virtual  
worlds. His research applies ethnography, “quasi-experiments” as well  
as laboratory studies.

Furthermore, Maja Horst (Copenhagen Business School) and Sisse  
Siggaard Jensen, Louise Phillips, and CarrieLynn Reinhard (Roskilde  
University) will provide examples of their research in/on virtual  
worlds applying laboratory experiments, participant observation, video  
analysis, discourse analysis, dialogic communication theory, actor- 
network theory and Dervin’s sense-making methodology.

The course thus explores a broad range of different methodological and  
analytical approaches to virtual worlds. The course is organized as a  
workshop where afternoon group sessions are dedicated to in depth  
discussions of the Ph.D. students’ projects in smaller groups and  
hands-on exercises with the techniques presented. Participants are  
required to submit a 5-page paper discussing their own project’s  
methodology and particular challenges. These papers will form the  
point of departure for presentations and discussions in the group  

Venue: The course will take place at Roskilde University, Denmark (25  
min. by train from Copenhagen). Lodging will be provided at Danhostel  
Roskilde Vandrehjem.

Costs: Ph.d. students who are enrolled in the National Doctoral School  
in Media, Communication and Journalism (FMKJ) will have their expenses  
reimbursed by the School. For other participating ph.d. students, the  
course fee, including lodging and food, is estimated at DKK 1500, in  
addition to which expenses for travel and transportation must be taken  
into account. The course is limited to 20 Ph.D. students.


Important dates:

-       Deadline for registration August 24th – including submission  
of 1-page paper outline

-       Notification of acceptance September 2nd

-       Deadline for 5-page paper contributions September 24th

Contact for registration and paper submission: Dixi Louise Strand -  
dixi at ruc.dk

Dixi Louise Strand, ph.d., project manager
Roskilde University
Department for Communication, Business, and Informations Technologies
P.O. Box 260, DK-4000 Roskilde
dixi at ruc.dk + 45 4674 3813


More information about the Air-L mailing list