Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Carl J. Couch Research Award

I'm very flattered that a chapter of my master's thesis, "Your World, Your Imagination?: Representation and Social Expectations in Virtual Memorials" received the Carl J. Couch Research Award this past week. As a result, I'm trying to make my way to Copenhagen in October for the Association of Internet Researchers conference. If you've got a rich uncle looking to sponsor a rogue academic, give a girl a hollar.

You can read the chapter by downloading my thesis.

If you're interested in learning more about Carl Couch's symbolic interactionist approach to technology, I highly recommend his book Information Technologies and Social Orders which is a great read for those who like the works of Marshall Mcluhan or Walter Ong. Rather than merely making sweeping assertions such as Mcluhan's "media extend ourselves," Couch places these ideas within a social context and describes technology as a object which is continually being reconstructed through use and social orders. One might already see the connection to Second Life!

CEDAR FALLS, Iowa -- The Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research ( is pleased to announce the winners of the 2008 Carl J. Couch Internet Research Award. The Couch Award is presented annually and recognizes excellent student-authored papers.
Richie Neil Hao, a doctoral student in Department of Speech Communication, at Southern Illinois University Carbondale, is the First Place winner for his paper, "Virtually Tsinoy: Performing and Negotiating Diasporic Hybridity Online."
Angela Adkins, doctoral degree candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of Akron, Akron, Ohio is the Second Place winner for her paper, "The Presentation of Self in Internet Forums: Face Work without Being Face-to-Face."
A tie for Third Place means that there will be two award winners in this category. They are Sara Hebert, a master's degree candidate in Digital Media Studies at the University of Denver, for her paper, "Your World, Your Imagination?: Representation and Social Expectations in Virtual Memorials;" and Vilma Lehtinen, a student in the Department of Social Psychology, University of Helsinki, Finland, for her paper, "Performing Diverse Social Relationships on a Social Networking Site."
The Couch Center established the Couch Award in 2002 as the centerpiece of an extensive awards program. Winning papers apply symbolic interactionist approaches to internet studies as advocated by the late Dr. Carl J. Couch, long-time professor of sociology at the University of Iowa.
Competition is open to graduate or undergraduate students of all disciplines, and winners are selected by a committee of university professors in communication studies and sociology from across the U.S.
This year's competition was rigorous, with entries received from students of all levels, from undergraduates through Ph.D. candidates, and were submitted by students from Europe, Asia, and Australia, as well as North America.
Winners receive a cash award as well as the opportunity to present their papers at a national or international conference. This year's awards will be presented at the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Copenhagen, Denmark, October 15-18.
The Carl Couch Center for Social and Internet Research is a non-profit organization established to promote the scholarship of the late Carl J. Couch and his academic associates. Couch is recognized as the founder of The New Iowa School in sociological and communication inquiry, and was a pioneer in the qualitative research of information technologies.
The Center provides networking opportunities for students and scholars who conduct social and Internet research, inspired by Couch's work. has launched!

I've been busy moving back across the country to Louisiana, but in the process, the brand new Robinson Film Center site launched, after much hard work and fun with Joomla! Many of you know I have a soft spot in my heart for the film center because of its ambitious media education program and brave programming in the deep south. They've been a blast to work with, and I highly recommend the popcorn salt that they use and keep at the concession stand for patrons like me.