Traversing urban social spaces : how online research helps unveil offline practice
Carroll, Julie-Anne, Foth, Marcus, & Adkins, Barbara A. (2010) Traversing urban social spaces : how online research helps unveil offline practice. In Hunsinger, Jeremy, Allen, Matthew, & Klastrup, Lisbeth (Eds.) International Handbook of Internet Research. Springer, Dortrecht, The Netherlands, pp. 147-158.
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This chapter presents a discussion of methodological considerations in urban informatics research. As an exemplar, we examine a health communication research blog set up to produce insights into the choices made by residents of a master-planned development affecting their health and well-being. It served both as a repository for collection and a tool for the strategic selection and analysis of internet research data. We reflect on the nature of the online data contributed by an urban demographic about their physical activity practices within this particular neighbourhood. The blog provided a forum for detailed responses which allowed participants to reflect on their answers over a period of time, and write with the privacy and protection effects provided by the anonymity of contributions, coupled with the advantage of being able to view the contributions made by other residents. Opinions, stories, and discussions were instigated by questions and photographs posted on the blog about residents’ levels of engagement with the neighbourhood for staying active and healthy. Residents reported on the social and physical aspects of the new urban environment that either encouraged or inhibited them from leading active and healthy lifestyles. In this context the blog provided insights into the role of both the planning rhetoric associated with a new urban village and the meanings attached to the lifeworld of the residents in their health practices. A total of 214 contributions to the blog were made by the residents, with the analysis and findings highlighting implications for urban design and health promotion research and practice.
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