Monday, 17 February 2014

Collecting stories, moving along

Keurkoon Phoomwittaya is a student in the Social Media MA at the University of Westminster.

They travelled with me to many places in my hometown in Thailand and flew across the sky to England. I take them on every journey that I go.

Since I was young, I used to write stories about travelling experiences in my secret notebook. I kept it in my backpack. Now I have a smart phone as another object which I use for capturing moments and telling my stories via social media platforms.

Turkle says that "We think with the objects we love; we love the objects we think with" (2007:5). The things that we take around us provoke emotions toward moments that we relate to.

Not only do we use mobile phones to share life moments online, we also observe stories that our friends tell. We often imagine along with their stories, but we do not sense exactly the same as how they feel.

Indeed, we know best our own embodied experience of being in a place, and why we choose to tell about it. The important reminder then is to see values attached in stories that people share about the space they are in (Farman, 2012). This is what I would like to bring into focus as I think of my research approach.

I am currently working on a postgraduate dissertation entitled “Girlguiding’s Use of Twitter in Storytelling”. My interest is on how people reflect on their experiences by sharing their stories via Twitter. Interestingly, Twitter’s hashtag search helps me as a researcher to find out what people say about events they are involved in. 

What draws my attention are hashtags which create a collaboration of common values that people in social groups reflect through stories, even though they are in different locations. 

As a Girlguiding volunteer, I would like to investigate how using hashtags to tell stories via twitter represents the organization’s values of giving girls and young women a space where they have fun and can be themselves. 

A search for #girlguides on twitter enables me to collect data of the values projected by messages and attached pictures. The expressions seen are of girls and young women having fun at concerts and campsites in different countries. Textual analysis will be a major approach as I will see the bigger image of how hashtags create a collective feminist identity among Girlguides participants. 

Qualitative interviews will be a minor method to let the participants reflect on how they use Twitter as a platform for sharing Girlguiding stories. 

I think meaningful research projects are reflected by being part of social groups. When I went to a Girlguides’ campsite in London for the first time, I was impressed by its green and comforting environment. However, what interests me more is the stories. 

Similarly, while people give meaning to communities they live in as part of their histories, mobile media lets us explore and tell our own experiences from every corner in which we belong.
  • Farman, J. 2012. Mobile Interface Theory: Embodied Space and Locative Media. United Kingdom: Routledge.
  • Turkle, S. 2007. Evocative Objects. United States: Massachusetts Institute of Technology.


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