This first part of the semester for BCM241 we have been looking at ethnographic research and now it’s time to create our own ethnographic research through observing a part of the media space in which we live.
The media space I wish to explore is the culture of online dog media communities. I personally follow and engage with several online dog centred communities. I’m curious as to the effect, role, makeup and formula that these often community-based pages have. From personal experience, the pages contain humour, stories of encouragement, a mourning of a lost best friend (dog of course), popular ‘dog stars’ of the community, memes and uplifting content shared and engaged with by individuals around the world.
I plan to perform a document analysis (see Bowen’s 2009 document analysis guide) of four online Facebook dog communities. By applying a content analysis of a semi-randomised sample of 50 posts (including comments), looking at one post per five posts, from each page to discover the themes, interactions, features, relationships, similarities and differences of the online communities. The four chosen pages are:
- Cool Dog Group – a closed invite only page with 432,490 members. High on community added content and engagement.
- Floof Bork Snoot ‘N’ Boop Ltd – a page mostly dedicated to ‘doge memes‘ with 242,408 likes.
We Rate Dogs – a page with 186,300 likes that does what it says, rates dogs in a humorous and meme related manner.
- Life With Dogs – a page with 1,425,172 likes that focusses on admin(s) curating a selection of content, unlike some of the other more community content based pages.
There are many studies into online communities, meme and fan culture including research into the linguistics and psychology of Dogespeak ( Bury 2016, pp. 169 – 172) from the popular doge memes and other internet meme linguistics (Davieson 2012). There is also research into online community behaviours such as community commitment (Ren, Kraut & Kiesler et al. 2011), profanity use (Sood & Churchill 2012), the impact of anonymity (Omernick & Sood 2013) and even politics in online communities (Beyer 2014).
Overall, the research project will draw from related secondary research as a base whilst using the Facebook page document analysis to form an in-depth cultural interpretation and further understanding of the cultural constructs within the selected online dog communities. The research, as a digital story, is planned to be presented in a video format.
*Feature photo from Floof Bork Snoot ‘N’ Boop Ltd