What is the impact of social media? Do military blogs shape how we view our military and current conflicts we are engaged in? Does it affect the way we communicate? How about the way we write?
I haven’t the faintest idea. But I know someone who is trying to find out. Patrick contacted me recently with some questions about military blogging and my thoughts on my writing. He also contacted about 70 other military bloggers and has only received about 10 replies. This weak response was unsatisfactory to America’s 1stSgt so I asked Patrick to put something together I could use to post today.
From what I can tell Patrick is researching something no one has seriously looked into before. I’ll let him explain:
My name is Patrick Thomas, and I am a doctoral student in the Department of English at Kent State University. Currently, I’m conducting research for my dissertation on the role of blogs as alternative sources of information about the War on Terror, and more specifically, the writing that soldiers do through blogs-the ways in which soldiers use blogs, their motivations for writing on blogs, and how blogs have changed the nature and function of military communications.
I believe this study is important for two reasons. First, the popularity of social media (like blogs or social networking sites) has allowed for new kinds of writing to emerge at such a rapid rate that many people are still trying to figure out how this writing affects people’s day-to-day lives-at work, at home, in communities, in schools, in corporate culture, etc. Why are blogs important? What motivates people to write them? Second, the sheer number and volume of military blogs suggests to me that the writing that soldiers do through blogs is an important thing for researchers to study. To date, there is no empirical research that examines military blogs or the functions of this kind of writing in the day-to-day lives and work of soldiers. To this end, I aim to use data from this study of milbloggers to argue that the kinds of writing soldiers do on blogs is important for other academic researchers to know about.
As part of my dissertation research, I am conducting email interviews of military bloggers about their blogging practices-how and why they blog, and their perceptions of their blogs’ readership. Therefore, I am searching for soldiers who are currently deployed and who operate and regularly maintain their own blogs to participate in an email interview within the next few weeks. Participating in this research requires soldiers to write responses to a questionnaire consisting of 19 open-ended questions about their blogging practices and to allow me access to their blog so that I can read their previously published posts. Of course, confidentiality will be maintained to the limits of the law, and all identifying or biographical information about soldiers will be kept confidential through the use of pseudonyms.
While I cannot compensate soldiers for their participation in this study, I can assure anyone interested in participating in this study that the information soldiers provide will contribute greatly to researchers’ growing understanding about how and why soldiers write and the implications of social media on communication practices in the military.
Should anyone be willing to participate or would like to know more about this study, please contact me via email at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone at (330)672-1760. If possible, I would like to complete these interviews by Monday, February 22, 2010.
A special thank you to 1st Sgt. for his help in spreading the word about this project to fellow soldier bloggers. I cannot complete this project without the generosity of bloggers like you.
Doctoral Candidate & Teaching Fellow
Department of English
Kent State University, Kent, OH
I’ve had friends contact the university and his work is a legitimate study authorized by the University and its Institutional Review Board.
What is tightening my jaws somewhat is the lack of a response from a group of people who claim to be misrepresented by the media at large. Here is someone asking us to talk about what we do and we as a group we have ignored him. If you have received his e-mail and not responded then I declare you weak-sauce.
If you are a military blogger and have not received Patrick’s questionnaire I suggest contacting him if you are interested in participating. I turned mine in over the weekend.