OWS essay online!

Howdy groupies!

Guess what I just found!?!? Apparently the OWS essay just went online. See http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/14742837.2012.708858. This considerable revision should provide some of us with a fantastic opportunity to reverse engineer the editors’ suggestions. Clearly, the authors have enhanced the essay in countless ways. In revising the title, for instance, they’ve both rewritten the subtitle in the active voice and made its argument more straightforward. Facebook didn’t help spread OWS, rather “Cute Old Men” and “Malcom X” did so, through Facebook. In the original, the “and” was vague.

And then, of course, we see some restructuring to create continuity. Instead of a “Summary” we have an “Abstract”; but the Abstract departs from convention, in that it asks questions rather than states research findings. By listing a series of questions in the Abstract, our authors have sidestepped the need to revise as completely as one might expect the opening few paragraphs. Instead of a “Conclusion,” we have a “Discussion” section. In the Discussion, our authors once again move from quantitative documentation to the act of sensemaking. Whereas the very word Conclusion seems to denote the end of the OWS movement, Discussion suggests continued sympathy for OWS ideals.

One omission disappoints me, though. But possibly the omission is due to issues of copyright. You’d think that, given the new title and visual focus, the article would include a copy of the Old Man photo. If images evoked such powerful emotions as to draw in OWS helpers, why not reproduce a few to drive home the point?


(not cited for obvious reasons)

4 thoughts on “OWS essay online!

    • Hello Katherine,
      Your question brings up a good point in conducting research in digital environments. We at U of T take for granted the fabulous resources provided for us through our institution’s many subscriptions. Where students once gained access to e-resources through library websites, now digital content is either allowed or rejected through IP ranges. Thus, you may enter into OED.com without disturbance through any U of T computer. Yet it’s very complicated to gain access to any e-resources by way of your home PC. To use U of T’s e-resources off-site you must set up a proxy and enter your UTOR id and password.

  1. So I managed to get ahold of this article once and for all by saving it as a pdf at the iSchool and emailing it to myself! I wrote my critique on this piece, so I was really keen to see how the authors edited it. I think they’ve done a really good job of keeping focus! One of the major problems that I had with the article before was their lack of focused research questions. It seems they’ve rectified that.

    They’ve even fixed some very small things I wondered about in my critique, such as citing online activities’ great influence over many social movements. They’ve contextualized their study well in this section, and I think it was a good call for them to omit their attempt at comparing OWS to the Tea Party.

    In remembering the excellent talk we had about ethics with the direction of Dean Sharpe, I am unsure of how I feel about their methodology from an ethical standpoint. While I think they did improve it, I’m wondering if they have crossed boundaries by using “Facebook’s developer application programming interface (API) to download all posts and comments on the page between the day the page was created and 17 October 2011.” (p.370) I know that many things posted on Facebook are basically public information, but I’m wondering if academia and studies such as these should have different standards? After all, I don’t know if the people who made these Facebook posts on OWS pages consented to the researchers analyzing and gathering their posting habits and names. I guess one could make the argument that posting this info online in a public OWS Facebook page is by default giving consent for it to be used, but I’m still sketical and unsure of how I feel about it.

    One other thing that I had recommended in my critique was that the authors attempt to show a correlation between Facebook activity and participation in actual, physical OWS events by giving questionnaires to people at the events and trying to determine if Facebook OWS activity was a motivating factor in their decision to go out and support OWS physically. Sadly they did not do this, but I think that because they have reoriented their paper and rephrased their research questions, it’s not as necessary now to their point.

    I did however like that their methodology was more substantial, as I had wondered how they gathered statements from OWS Facebook pages. I was curious if they used clusters of statements, as per Knight, 2002, p.101. I was pleased to see that their methodology was a little more explained in this version. Overall, it was really interesting to see the updated paper after having seen a less polished version of it for the critique!

    Hope everyone is having a pleasant enough end of semester! And thanks again Josh, for finding the article!

    Katherine Laite

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