Wednesday, April 18, 2007
I don’t often get to do this, so I want to brag on three of my graduate students who successfully defended wonderful new media theses this week:
Andrew Ledbetter defended his Ph.D. thesis in which he developed a scale to assess people’s attitudes toward using the internet as an interpersonal medium and compared the roles of face-to-face and online communication in relational (friendship) maintenance. A lot of complicated findings, but one important takeaway is that the internet is clearly not a substitute for face-to-face communication, and its use in relational maintenance did not damage (or help) relational strength (at least not with U.S. college students). Andrew is joining the faculty at Ohio University next fall, lucky them.
Kiley Larson defended her M.A. thesis. She interviewed rural Kansas in order to better understand how they understand and talk about the internet, particularly in terms of its social utility. Again, many interesting findings. Perhaps the most striking is that the women are the ones who know how to use it and to whom the men all defer when they need something from the internet. Also interesting was their strong stigmatization of the internet as an appropriate means of conducting local communication or seeking new relationships — this is a theme we see in lots of populations, but she’s got a compelling argument that it may be enhanced in the rural context.
Sun Kyong (Sunny) Lee defended her M.A. thesis which compared American and Korean college students’ mobile phone usage pattens and their motivations for using them. She found many similarities in use and motivations, some differences in usage that could be explained by looking at the contexts of these students’ lives (live on campus or at home?) or the payment plans available to them . But she also found some different motivational structures, which suggest that there are cultural influences or, perhaps, that the Koreans are in a more advanced stage of technological adaption than the Americans.
Anyhow, all three students were so great to work with, I learned so much from them, and all three theses are fascinating and well done. Plus Andrew and Kiley got honors! So it’s been a great week for Advisor Nancy.