Sampling theory and research methods in the production of celebrity?

October 13, 2010 § Leave a comment

Teaching starts next week for me with three relatively unconnected lectures: the relationship between theory and method in research; sampling design; and the role of the tabloid press in the production of celebrity (all for different courses, you’ll be pleased to know).  One thing I find curious about my new post is that I have not yet got a course of my own, in which I design the whole syllabus and the whole story which I think will be helpful to students.  Instead, I am teaching a smattering of lectures on a range of courses, primarily research methods courses geared to different groups of students on different degree programmes.  This makes for a slightly schizophrenic preparation of lectures.

I am enjoying preparing the "celebrity" lectures since the topic reflects in an interesting way on my primary research interest of the digital economy.  I am still working it out, but the relation has to do with the idea that the core resource of celebrity is not deeds, fame, or esteem (all of which are optional for today’s celebrities, who may have done only small things, or nothing, to earn their status, and may as easily be reviled as celebrated) but presence.  Why should this be a scarce or valuable resource?  That’s the interesting question and paradox of the study, but to me it reflects a sideways light on the sale of traffic somehow.  As I said, I don’t quite know how as yet.  Readers with clever perspectives are invited to join in…

Meanwhile I have a range of publications in preparation: a revised encyclopedia article on Internet ratings systems; a revised Wiki article on search engines; and an update to a paper on search engine production as a cultural practice, to be published in an edited collection  This collection is from the Technocultures Symposium held in Stockholm last year, organised by Södertörn University College and the Nobel Museum.  I’m looking forward to seeing the final papers particularly from William Uricchio, discussing the "algorithmic media" and Peter Jakobsson and Fredrick Stiernstedt who look at data archives as potential sites of capital accumulation.

Nor is this all!  I am also preparing a book proposal based, in part, on my thesis.  I’ve used Evangelia Berdou’s proposal for her new book on Open Source communities as my model.  Dr Berdou is one of the cleverest people I know, so if it’s good enough for her….

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