Keyword Round-up: July on Academia.edu

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Another monthly round-up of my Academia.edu analytics, with increased visitors and a new paper release in July.

In July 2013, my Academia.edu profile and work entertained 214 “visits” in the form of page views. New visitors made up 156 of those visits—with seven returning visitors—and visitors came from 43 countries to view those pages.

Keywords by the Numbers
Sixteen keyword searches brought visitors to my Academia.edu pages in July. Twelve searches led to “Heroes & Zeroes” – all through Google searches. The searches from Google India, Google Australia, and Google UK (two) were ranked #1. Two searches led to “Changing the Game” and both were referred through Bing searches. One search led to “Arguably the Greatest” and one search to my profile; my Academia.edu profile ranked 13 in a Google search for my name “meghan ferriter.”

The searches that led visitors to “Changing the Game” concerned questions of race and ethnicity in sport. Six searches concerned the term “celebrity,” while three incorporated “narrative.” The term “athlete” also appeared in six searches.

Five searches were performed from the United States, with 2 searches each from the United Kingdom and Australia; all of these searches were performed using Google. The remaining searches were conducted from Argentina, Canada, Ethiopia, France, India, Philippines, and Romania.

Here are the search terms in full and Google search rank, if applicable, in parentheses:

  • celebrity retirement sport (1)
  • impact of celebrity footballers (1)
  • “e-mail addresses and screen names allow users to” (1)
  • narrative+on+how+he+becomes+an+athlete (1)
  • celebrity athlete career change (1)
  • 10 examples of heroic narrative (2)
  • journal entries, heroes and zeroes (2)
  • why are athletes and celebrities considered heroes (3)
  • cultivation of celebrity athletes (4)
  • “sociology of sport” athlete retirement (8)
  • narrative structure of sports reports (10)
  • retired athletes in public service (10)
  • meghan ferriter (13)
  • can an athlete be a celebrity (no rank)
  • ethnicity by professional sport (Bing)
  • what are the ideological discourses that position race in sport as a significant classification of people? (Bing)

As suggested in this article, there are limits to the truth of the Academia.edu alert e-mail subject line: “Someone searched for you”. In July, the more appropriate phrasing for me might be “someone discovered you,” with the exception of the search on my name.

Why Followers May Not Be As Important on Academia.edu, a.k.a “Feed vs. Followers”
I gained 9 followers in July, which pales by comparison to the volume of page views. At first glance, this would seem like a poor rate of conversion. Yet that interpretation depends on your goals on Academia.edu – in contrast with one’s purpose on other social networking sites. Here’s another way to spin the low(er) follower numbers: the structure of Academia.edu’s platform allows communities of interest to form around subject fields very easily.

This means researchers and users can create personalized feeds based on their researching interests rather than directly following everyone working in those fields. Indeed, in my case, my work spans several fields and only one of my papers may be useful or relevant to certain disciplines. Through this tagging feature of the platform, potential followers are still receiving word of relevant work by particular researchers through the Academia.edu feed – that is, if it that work is tagged with the research interests into which those potential followers have opted. Of course, I still actively follow researchers and welcome others to follow me, but I am more concerned that my research findings are useful!

Papers, Posts, and Page views
Right after the Wimbledon Championship Men’s final won by Andy Murray, I uploaded my chapter about discourses of age in professional sport titled “The Age Complex.”

During the event, I made a post (similar to a status update) referencing my research. The paper is one of my thesis chapters and explores “age” as a social construction in newspaper media representations of professional football and tennis. Mediated sport discourses of international, professional sport offer a landscape constructed by, and consistently reframed by, age-related discourses that intersect with other aspects of identity – ‘race,’ ethnicity, gender, and sexuality – to create and reinforce inequality. For this reason, discourses of sport are excellent sites to examine age-related hierarchies; we can analyze them to better understand the ways in which age is a cultural resource informing broader relationships of power.

The addition of “The Age Complex” paper had a significant impact on page views in July.  Here are the breakdowns of what visitors viewed:

Paper

Views

Age Complex 111
Heroes & Zeroes 28
The Stories They Tell 15
Changing the Game (intro thesis chapter) 3
Arguably the Greatest 1

Page

Views

Profile 48
Posts 3
Following 2
CV 1

My M.A. thesis (dissertation) didn’t receive any views this month, while Arguably the Greatest” only garnered one view. This suggests I may need to rethink the research interests with which these pieces are tagged and perhaps create status posts or discussion questions about their content to generate more traffic.

Referrals and Visitors
This month, I found interesting conclusions from the referrals. Continuing the trend from late June, 13 visits were referred by the Academia.edu blog post in which I was featured. Twenty-three visits were referred by Academia.edu – whether from the feed, from documents in various subjects, or from the Smithsonian Institution Archives Department page, with which I am affiliated. Search engines referred 31 visitors – a combination of the above-mentioned searches and other mail and search engines. Two referrals came through Facebook, which was most intriguing! Finally, there was one visit each from my blog and the status post during Murray’s Wimbledon Championships victory. Over 100 visits offered no referral information.

For the most part, these referrals are pushing traffic from within and through the Academia.edu platform. The next challenge will be to move visitors from other places in which I digitally reside, perhaps from LinkedIn, Twitter, or more traffic from this site.

Once again, English-speaking western countries led the way for visitors. Yet the numbers were much different and more widely spread than June. Fewer visits from the United States and Ireland but more from the UK. Countries like Australia, Spain, Germany, Sweden and India moved into the top spots.

The following table presents top countries by views:

United States 45
United Kingdom 40
Australia 18
Spain 12
Argentina 8
Germany 8
Sweden 8
India 7

I’ll wrap up these numbers with a quick consideration of visitor pathing or movement between my pages. Most visitors viewed one page but some viewed two separate pages. Visitors who viewed more than one page were likely to move from a paper to my profile or from my profile to an additional page.

Three visitors landed on “The Stories They Tell” and moved to my profile page. One visitor each moved from my profile to my post, from my profile to my CV, and from my profile to “Changing the Game,” my introductory thesis chapter. Finally, five visitors moved from “The Age Complex” to my profile page; one visitor moved from “The Age Complex” to my profile page and back to “The Age Complex” – twice.

Conclusions
Linking a paper with a trending event via a post certainly drove a great amount of traffic to my paper “The Age Complex.” If opportunity presents itself, or if there are upcoming events relating to your work, consider directing people to your work via the Academia.edu feed by way of status update posts.

Most traffic to my work is internal from the Academia.edu platform, although I did have increased traffic from search engines in July. This finding suggests that there is indeed a community of scholars at work on Academia.edu.

Total visits (in the form of page views) to my work and pages increased from May to July by over 500% – from 40 to 214 visits/views. It remains to be seen whether or not those views are “meaningful” – in the sense of whether or not the research I am sharing is useful for other researchers in my communities of interest on Academia.edu.

In summary: once again, keywords brought people in relation to celebrity, athletes and narrative. An additional paper coordinated with an event drove increases in visitors and doubled the previous month’s visits (June to July). Overall, this data can be useful in timing the release of my work, understanding existing audiences, and identifying which research interests I should better cultivate for increased visitor engagement.

Stay tuned for intriguing changes in August traffic in the next Keyword round up.

Keyword Round-up: June on Academia.edu

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Exploring my June Academia.edu analytics report featuring minimal use of keywords but increased views.

In June, I was a busy bee preparing for the Expeditions & Explorers Edit-a-thon and concurrent launch of the Transcription Center. Admittedly, late July and early August have been wild with work! The last two months have featured research and consulting heavily, as well as an unanticipated two week sabbatical-cum-nannying “project.” Alors, back to the task of unpacking analytics…

KEYWORDS

First, focusing on simply the keywords that were used to locate my papers and profile: there were 8 keyword searches recorded and all used Google search (one Google.co.uk search). They came from 6 different countries. The searches led my “audience” to the following: four searches directed to “Heroes & Zeroes“, two to “The Stories They Tell“, and two to my profile. Keywords and their rank in the Google search, if applicable, are below:

  • descriptive text about athletes (8)
  • heroes and zeroes: extending celebrity (1)
  • (The Stories They Tell URL)
  • (The Stories They Tell URL)
  • http://www.jerryricefootball.com/index.cfm/pk/content/pid/400047
  • meghan ferriter (8)
  • meghan ferriter soccer
  • sport narritive storylines (4)

Matching the trend from May, two searches related to text and narrative though one focused on celebrity and the other for athletes. Two searches used the full URL for the paper on academia.edu, while one used the first words of the article to search. Two searches included my full name. Intriguingly, with one middle of the month exception, the keyword searches were performed in the first and last week of the month.

Although I uploaded my MA Thesis “The Sharper Image” – regarding the interplay of constructions of Irish Nationalist Identity in British political cartoons and Irish Nationalist writings prior to the establishment of the Free State – neither this paper nor “Arguably the Greatest” received any hits from keyword search.

VIEWS

June did turn over interesting results in views despite low keyword searches – with credit to my inclusion of more papers and being featured on the Academia.edu blog.

The paper additions included my introductory chapter of my dissertation/thesis (US/UK, depending on where you dwell & study), as well as my M.A. thesis/dissertation (again the international contextualization applies). Each of these pieces are presented in their final draft form – and each has massive utility for publication and further research, so dusting them off for Academia.edu’s digital display case was a welcome move and started gears turning.

In direct correlation to the feature on the Academia.edu blog, my profile views leapt to 74, with 11 views of my CV page. My papers “The Stories They Tell” and “Heroes & Zeroes” received the greatest number of views with a significant drop in views between the two; the former at 58 views and latter at 14 views. The three other papers accounted for 15 views in total.

Paper

Views

The Stories They Tell 58
Heroes & Zeroes 14
Arguably the Greatest 8
Changing the Game (thesis chapter) 4
The Sharper Image (full M.A.) 3

Page

Views

Profile 74
CV 11
Posts 2
Question 1

VISITORS

I was also intrigued by the locations of visitors, with the US, Ireland, and the UK leading visits. Most of these visitors viewed one page, though a handful from Ireland and the US visited multiple pages. Three visitors viewed 4 or 5 pages on their visit.

Countries

Views

United States 73
Ireland 46
United Kingdom 13
Singapore 11
Canada 9
Bulgaria 7

In May, I had 40 unique visitors. In June, 110 unique visitors spent time on my pages. Of those numbers, the Academia.edu blog feature sent 37 visitors to my profile; 14 visitors navigated through their academia.edu feed. Finally, 35 visitors navigated from my profile to my papers.

CHALLENGES

There were limited conversions of follows from views, even with the Academia.edu blog feature. Approximately 10 followers were added in the month of June and it is unclear whether that resulted from my legwork or “clickwork” in following other researchers.

Furthermore, there are two gaps in understanding user behavior based on the analytics we are provided as a part of the service:

  1. the download conversion rate (i.e. actual download numbers for papers)
  2. time on page (i.e. how long a visitor stays on the page, ideally reading)

Drilldown capabilities and the paths which users follow through your pages are also not provided but can be guesstimated by piecing together details by visitor ID.

SUMMARY

In summary, keywords brought people in relation to celebrity, athletes and narrative, while a profile piece attracted visitor numbers that doubled the previous month’s visits. I had increases in views on my profile and especially “The Stories They Tell” and “Heroes & Zeroes,” which discuss – you guessed it! – celebrities, athletes, and narrative. Overall, this information may be useful in understanding an appropriate existing audience for my research.

Stay tuned for elaboration on the adventurous terms used to find my work in the forthcoming July Keyword round up.

 

DANG: It’s on in Chicago

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Last week, I received confirmation that the Digital Anthropology group – DANG – panel was accepted for the American Anthropological Association 2013 Conference. As a reminder, I’ll be discussing the necessity of conflict in refining the values and goals of a fandom online. My paper (presentation) is titled “It boils down to respect”: Defining the values of a fandom through conflict online.

My abstract begins: “Increasingly, social media allows users to connect their online behaviors to physical practices in pursuit of collective goals. In these digital public spaces, communities of practice are able to bypass geographic and temporal boundaries. For U.S. Women National soccer team (USWNT) fans, Tumblr offers a digital realm in which multimodal communication unfolds – and quite often, conflict arises. Through online ethnography and discourse analysis, this study examines conflict as essential to refining USWNT fandom values; however, conflict also jeopardizes the participatory practices that define the fandom.”

The presentation is limited in time (15 min!!), which means a very focused and limited scope of discussion. I anticipate presenting a version of the discussion I have already prepared – focusing on the specific ways in which the fandom policies the “USWNT” tag and reinforces attribution or “sources.” These activities are borne out through messaging, anonymous posts, and text posts in the tag. These are really significant moments of productive conflict and help articulate group-defined “appropriate” behavior. Yet these conflicts also threaten archiving and sharing habits; spoiler alert: some fans refuse to continue to share, while others stop using tags which are used to refresh fan knowledge. Therefore, a delicate balance of conflict must be maintained, as too much discord threatens to dry one data stream through which fandom knowledge is developed.

I’ll share more of my preparations closer to November. Get in touch if you are heading to Chicago for AAA 2013, too –

Windy City, here we come!

Doing it well: Communication and Discourse work in the fandom

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In this post, I summarize specific actions and communication in a fandom in a social networking space, focusing on how discourse work can be seen in their daily activities. This post shifts focus from my recent posts relating to my work in cultural heritage in digital spaces to draw out parts of my ongoing research in the US Women’s soccer team (USWNT) Tumblr fandom.

As alluded to on my landing page, I have been conducting an ethnographic, or netnographic (Kozinets, 2009), study within the social networking and microblogging site Tumblr for the last two years. I perceive Tumblr to be a unique digital space that allows individuals to “opt in” to a community of practice – one that integrates discourses of women’s sport and soccer, media, competition and nationalism, notions of gender and sexuality, and narratives of the USWNT in daily discussions.

When individuals in the USWNT fandom share, consume, and create content, they encourage a shared group affiliation (as “fans”). Their communication occurs in a flexible, asynchronous social realm. Through choices in language, timing, media, and “tone” these fans establish a series of temporary discursive spaces to explore, express, and discuss their feelings.

Communication within the wider USWNT “fandom” project

  • actively teaches new users,
  • rewards insider knowledges,
  • allows for dissension and discussion, and
  • offers opportunities for inclusion of fans, who might otherwise be isolated from fan activity

Tumblr’s structure also facilitates distinct techniques of self-expression and specific language selections shared through tags, asynchronous communication, “reblogging,” and “asks.” Fandom activity includes discourse work and content creation.

On Tumblr, USWNT fans do the following*:

  • make text post updates from official US Soccer sources
  • post original text posts stating feelings or opinions on the team’s performance
  • post original text posts stating feelings or opinions about other people/fans in the fandom
  • make and answer anonymous questions using the “Ask” feature on Tumblr
  • share social media content from players – typically tweets and Instagram pictures
  • share images from USWNT training sessions and games
  • share images from NWSL training sessions and games
  • create GIFs of moments from games
  • create GIFs of informal moments from US Soccer official sources (regenerating and reworking discourse)
  • create specialized graphical representations with images
  • request and provide links – livestreams, presentations, videos
  • request GIFs, videos, and other information from other users
  • tag posts – categorizing and allowing content to be searched
  • police use of the tags – specifically the tag “USWNT” – by messaging and posting “rules” of tagging
  • ask for input and opinions on apparel, ticket purchases, game etiquette and moe
  • discuss the fandom and their feelings of inclusion and participation in that community

As a part of this study, it has become clear that not only is the USWNT fandom shaped by a number of resources and communication practices – and there are also differences in fandom activities at different times. For example, in February, I compared the variations in language choices some fans make during a game – or when they are “livetumbling” – and in their daily circulation of posts and reblogs.

In reblogging posts, users are clearly making decisions about which components of public meaning and insider knowledge they would like to perpetuate. When a user likes or reblogs a post about Alex Morgan but ignores another post about Amy Rodriguez, they are marking out the space and value of pieces of knowledge for the fandom.

What the USWNT fandom actually discusses and creates are representations of the USWNT, players, other fans, opponents, and other popular culture narratives. As with making knowledge, representations are devised through making choices, where fans work with discourse and other cultural materials from which interpretations may be made. Mediated sport discourse, as well as USWNT fandom Tumblr disourses, provide accounts; neither reality nor clean interpretation of events. Rather, as with discourses of mediated sport, Tumblr discourses present a version of events that speaks to broader social relationships and understandings of sexuality, national identities, gender, and imply relationships of power.

Watch this space for further discussion of the implications of these strategic communication choices in the USWNT fandom.

*This is an on-going and developing list, and certainly not exhaustive at this point!

Free Thinking: Models of Knowledge Construction

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Just a few quick notes — “free thinking” in the spirit of #showyourwork — and on the subject of the production and construction of knowledge*.

This spring/summer I’ve observed at least three separate types of digital spheres in which engagement and information exchange occur: Tumblr fandom, Wikipedia, and transcription models. I have approached these as “project-oriented” spaces because participants

  • are operating independently but with the belief that others can see and share their work/product/material,
  • have opportunities to see the work of others and integrate, respond to, or reject that work
  • can use the technology to assert information as knowledge, evidence, or fact
  • can communicate with [someone else] working on the project, though maybe not always directly with each other.

These spaces have also been home to certain kinds of collaborative or project-oriented communication. In other words, in these spaces people have shared information with or without conditions, been working together to achieve a goal, and/or have worked together to create an agreed-upon outcome (consensus). Finally, these are realms of knowledge production and/or construction.

Construction Work - Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture, JP
Construction Work – Kawasaki-shi, Kanagawa Prefecture, JP

In the past, I have referred to webs of knowledge and cultural webs in my writing – and often what I am discussing is how individuals come together to share information or existing “knowledge” about subjects. Yet, in these spaces, we can also see nuances of producing or constructing knowledge – two different models of knowledge at play in these spaces.

I have distinguished between these models as “authorized” versus “authenticated” knowledge. I’ve gotten feedback that these definitions sound IT or technologically centered. I briefly considered “control” versus “consensus” but that appears to me too critical of the former – and actually so does “authorized.” Therefore, I am resting my thoughts currently on the following pair:

“Offered” versus “Authored” knowledge

These models of knowledge are distinguished and related to spaces of participatory practices in a few ways.

First, “offered” knowledge is the suggested or preferred way of viewing the body of information – you could perhaps label it official, or curated, or dominant discourse. “Authored” knowledge is a version of information developed through a collaborative and information-sharing process. One way to think of this kind of knowledge is as augmenting or contextualizing “offered” knowledge.

Secondly, In participatory processes, “offered” knowledge can be combined with other knowledge repositories to create “authored” knowledge. “Authored” knowledge, therefore, references and/or builds upon existing “offered” knowledge. As a participant contributes to “authored” knowledge, he or she may reference the discrepancies between these two knowledge bases. He or she might also gain acceptance or earn status in the group by understanding and correctly using (and perpetuating) authored knowledge.

I will jump off here and continue to flesh out the relationship between “offered” and “authored” knowledge – and how it is implicated in sustaining or remaking relationships of power. If you’ve come across these models in other spaces, please share your observations in the comments. I’m curious to learn more about digital places that highlight models of knowledge and where “offered” knowledge is sustained or remade through participatory “authoring.”

*knowledge: “a (1) : the fact or condition of knowing something with familiarity gained through experience or association (2) : acquaintance with or understanding of a science, art, or technique” – merriam-webster.com, http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/knowledge

Image via Flickr Commons – gullevek and Construction Work (2006)