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I have not yet finished thinking about what my key take-aways from the Digital Researcher event on Monday, which is why they have not been blogged. Partly this is due to a busy week at work and partly because my energy has been directed into discussing what kind of followup there should be with the participants.

A Ning was mooted as an idea for capturing the inputs and outputs of the event, but this idea was overtaken by one of the events’ tutors who instead established a Friendfeed page. I have made the case for having a website – blog – page – something, somewhere, that pulls all the links and feeds together. It seems I am marking myself out as some kind of librarian luddite unwilling to wade through the Twitter or Friendfeed posts or Google for hashtagged Bit.ly links. Most responses have been along the same lines: join in the conversations and you will find what you want. Really? How does one know what is there if one doen’t know what’s there in the first place and consequently how to search? This, by the way, is a rhetorical question. I ask it on behalf of the people I spoke to on Monday who were confused and finding the concepts presented challenging.

My concept was that Vitae would be sending out some kind of post-event email, which could contain one link to one page: a starting point for the DR10 attendees who may not have wanted to dive right in and tweet stuff. One big barrier is that we have no way of knowing up-front who is behind a Twitter ID. It would have been great had the event provided contact details of any kind – but adding people’s Twitter IDs to the participant list or name badges would have been a helpful thing to do.

I am left wondering what the aims of the DR10 event were, and whether there were any kind of measurables put in place. A target for the number of people engaging with Twitter as a result? A new community of PGRs established that would mentor each other into finding their own discipline-related networks? How is the pilot event being evaluated to establish if it is worth running again?

So far Vitae have not followed up on either of the two interactions I have had with them [the promised network wasn’t established after the part-timer event I went to in May 2009; and I certainly didn’t receive an email telling me when booking for DR10 opened). It may be therefore that my expectation of a co-ordinated follow up is unrealistic.

It’s a couple of days since the event. Real life is starting to encroach again on the participants’ time. Has the momentum been lost?

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I’ve spend the whole day re-running database searches and documenting the results. I’ve now got 51 references from which to draw the initial pool of articles for review. In eight months of searches, both haphazard and more ordered, I’ve found a grand total of two, count them, two – papers that look directly at the content and structure of church websites.

STURGILL, A., 2004. Scope and purposes of church Web sites. Journal of Media and Religion, 3(3), pp. 165-176.

CARR, M., 2004. The use of online information sources as a tool for mission by Parish Churches. Journal of Religious and Theological Information, 6(2), pp. 51-85.

I’ve got 49 others that may well be useful, but this is it in terms of things that are directly related to my topic.

Why’s this a busman’s holiday? Because today is Saturday, and I frequently spend the day at work doing exactly this sort of thing.

It’s interlibrary loan time!

I have spent all day in librarian mode – organising references and tidying up where I have got to so far. This is a little bit like colouring in revision timetables, in that it feels useful but doesn’t really get one on any further. However, as a good librarian I know that the more structure I put around my literature searching at these very early stages, the easier it will be to find and cross reference articles later. Noting why I think something is or isn’t relevant now will no doubt be very useful six or twelve months down the line when whatever reasons I had today have been lost in the mists of time.

I have generated a number of topic areas from the articles I’ve found from my less structured ‘Oh that looks interesting and I wonder if it’s subsequently been cited’ searching over the last couple of days. Well, it is holiday time.

So far, then, the literature I’ve found falls into one or more of the following categories:

  • Traditional authority/ hierarchy and the internet
  • Website usability and evaluation (but not yet found anything that looks at religious websites, it’s all ecommerce)
  • Surveys and predictions (the Future of the Internet, as seen from 1995)
  • Descriptions/ analysis of online religion and virtual communities
  • Cross cultural comparisons
  • Comparative areas – e.g. health websites/ public organisations/ PR
  • Church use of the internet (this is the smallest pool so far and I wish it was the largest!)

Today is the first day that I have set aside for working on the project. It is not going so well so far.

I have struggled to log in to databases via Athens – it took two hours to get a temporary fix. And I feel like I have been going round in circles all day… now it’s nearly 3pm and so far I have managed to arrange a noticeboard.

The things I need to do are:

  • write up notes from the supervision meeting on 14th December
  • write some blurb for my entry on the department’s website
  • find the list of contacts from a meeting with the Church of England
  • contact the librarian at All Nations (who is also a part time research student at Loughborough)
  • generate a list of search terms for interrogating databases
  • make a list of useful journals and their locations, and sign up for RSS feeds to those that use RSS publish their contents

Oh, and start running some meaningful searches.