Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 10:16AM
So I have a couple of research projects that I've had on the back burner for a while now. Both are essentially design based research work, and arguably are better thought of as R&D projects since they're really both more concerned with technical outcomes and technology development than theory (although both are valuable theory building tools as well).
The first research project I'd really like to initiate is a user generated survey system, and more specifically a gamer generated survey system. If you're one of the 5 people who has read my blog over the last several years, you've heard about this before. I've actually been talking about this concept since the early days of my dissertation work, but I was wisely advised by Rich not to complicate things further by using an experimental methodology while working on an unconventional topic.I'd love to have the opportunity to see what kinds of questions gamers ask each other, and the resulting database could be tremendously beneficial to game user researchers who struggle to get broader player data due to serious disincentives for sharing between publishing houses. Also, I could see such an endeavour easily attracting some advertising funding.
I'm pretty sure I could role this up on my own given enough time, but this project would definitely benefit from collaboration with an expert web developer, a stats person, and arguably a survey design person. If such an effort were successful it would actually require a fairly substantial staff to manage the community and maintain the system.
My second langushing idea is also one that's been on my mind for a while, arguably since 2006, but I've been talking about it actively since last year. It's also a lot bigger in scale than the gamer generated survey system. The concept is a Visual Interface for Online LeArning. Imagine a backbone of Wikipedia/the Wikimedia project supported by a range of other digital reference tools including everything from Dictionary.com to JSTOR. Drop in connections to crowd sourced tools like Stack Overflow and Quora. Then incorporate the search functionality and analytics of Google. Layer the best visual interface concepts we can lift from game design on top of that. Throw in a location based layer that maps local resources and a social layer that maps human resources. Finally, make the entire thing a living network where knowledge resources become a visual web with nodes that respond and reorganize based on user activity.
In essence you'd have a visualization of all online knowledge and resources with hooks out to individuals, institutions, businesses, and more. Results would need to be filterable based on: institutional affiliation, location, resources, etc. Running into a dead end on a research topic? Flip on the academic resource filter and get a list of faculty and graduate students you can contact with a question. Looking for a local source for an ingredient you read about in a recipe? Flip on the merchant filter and find out if there's a supplier in the area. The default view for individual users would be the cluster of their topic of interest with leads out to related topics and resources, but visualizations of the whole network or segments of it would also be viewable with a variety of representations of real time activity available to see what nodes are active and how topics are repositioning themselves based on the connections users are making between them.
I don't think I'm going to have time for either of these things in the coming months, but one of these days I either want to help build them or at least see them built.