Something I've been thinking about recently is how technology can be used more frequently and appropriately in social research methods. Reading this article by National Centre For Research Methods drew my attention to an avenue which I hadn't thought about quite so explicitly - the combination between the traditional diary method and its relationship with current technology usage.
Individuals, and in particular young people, share frequently on their social media platforms as part of their daily life. NCRM's short article reflects on what potential this holds as a form of data creation for researchers. Rather than presenting this as a new method altogether, the authors highlight the similarities between social media practices and diary methods of social research. Many of us frequently share detailed updates about our personal lives; stories; anecdotes; and photos - either on our public social media profiles, or through private messages with friends and loved ones. Obviously much of that is private and curious social researchers should not necessarily be infiltrating these spaces. Though in the right circumstances and using an appropriate platform, tapping into existing social routines and technological habits could represent a current missed opportunity.
There are no doubt challenges to this, such as with accessibility and appropriateness. However, I think that offering a separate space to do this in a guided way could be an effective alternative to traditional diary methods of a pen and paper. As the article states, 'diary methods are uniquely placed for ‘capturing life as it is lived''. Bringing this method into the spaces where people are already capturing and recording their daily lives, seems to present some exciting opportunities for researchers.
As more ideas like these are explored, I personally am intrigued to see what the future holds for the canon of social research methods as they join the technological world.
The advent of social media and the associated rise of diaristic (chronological, sequential) media practices, coupled with the boom in mobile technologies and associated affordances for individuals recording their experiences through texts, photos, video, audio and movement have put diary methods at a digital frontier of qualitative research: the imbrication of digital culture in everyday life.