I’ve been studying my friend Matt’s use of domestic television in an attempt to determine which elements of his TV consumption have diverged and entered new media. That is to say if his television use included news, music, serial media and communal entertainment and it now includes only communal entertainment, we can say that those missing elements – news, music, serial media – have been swallowed up by some other platform. It takes less effort to consume those media with some other media platform than it does with his TV. There are at least two ways in which effort is lowered: The first is access to a broader range of media, the second is the disassociation of schedule from media consumption. We don’t have to tailor our lives to the broadcast schedule – no more staying up and trying to time the record function to the gap in sound and vision between the ad break and the program, we can just watch it on the internet. Of course these factors are contingent on oneanother – Because this media content has become disassociated from a particular time it’s more accessible, and because it’s been made accessible in the way it has we can access it when we want.
I had him keep a diary of his viewing, filled in at the end of each day for a week. The diary itself was a series of forms kept on Google Drive, each day’s form sent to him each morning via Facebook. Geography rendered a physical diary impractical since we don’t live near each other any more, and the constraints of technology – access to a computer – meant it was impossible to keep an ‘in-the-moment’ record (Lindlof & Taylor 2002) of his viewing. Yesterday I conducted a semi-structured interview with him via facebook, following up on the collated results of his diary.
An important part of qualitative research is determining which of your results are relevant to the problem at hand. I asked my friend if he and his girlfriend ever cooked anything they saw on Jamie’s 30 Minute Meals in an attempt to determine whether his viewing of that show was more a matter of bonding and relaxation than it was education and engagement with the material. While his answer revealed that they did cook some stuff from the show, and that he owned the cookbook, and that it was a matter of education as well as bonding, none of this information has really told us anything about media convergence. So I should present only one aspect of my findings (Liamputong 2009: 181) in the report: How have his viewing habits changed, and how does that point towards a process of media convergence?
More broadly, performing qualitative research means approaching the subject of media convergence in an organic way. Jessica down there had it right when she described it as “emergent and holistic” – we tailor our questions to the subject as new information arises, we take all information into account and try to construct a picture of what’s going on.