It’s now been 2 years since I handed in my PhD thesis and I’m all signed up for my graduation ceremony at University of Oxford this autumn. I am so looking forward to it. The culmination of five years of hard work. I wrote my thesis in the department of Ancient History, but in reality my PhD is more a part of Digital Humanities than Classics. My research question was how Decision Support Systems can aid the process of reading ancient documents and the documents I used as a case study were the Vindolanda Tablets from Hadrian’s Wall.
During my PhD I became very involved in crafts and DIY. First as a way to mentally escape from the thesis writing (something many student’s will probably recognise), but then I became more and more interested in looking at crafts and DIY from a Digital Humanities point of view. So now that I finished my PhD I have decided to turn my full attention towards DIY culture. I have always been fascinated with the concept of amateurs and hobby-people, in short people who do or make something that they are not trained to do or make. One of my first ever articles “Poul Helweg Mikkelsen – en amatørarkæolog: Amatorarkæologi I 1930’erne på Holsted-egnen” (in Danish although I hope to do an updated article in English one day) was about amateur archaeologist Poul Helweg Mikkelsen. He was an apothecary in Odense, as his father before him. His father bought a summerhouse outside Holsted in Jutland where the family spent much time. Poul, also like his father, was very interested in archaeology. However, where the father was a big time collector of archaeological artefacts, Poul instead excavated archaeological sites, and he did it rather well. Archaeology is one of many academic subjects that has it’s roots in amateurs like Poul. But what I think is interesting today is how Poul collected his information about how best to excavate and how to store and record his finding. This is something I would like to research in DIY culture today.
The object of this research is to study the correlation between the current spread of DIY culture and the growing use of the internet. It aims to answer the question of how people use the internet for information seeking and information sharing in order to learn DIY skills. The terms DIY culture and DIY skills cover a multitude of concepts from canning your own fruits to knitting your own clothes or researching your own family. This will be a study of information seeking in DIY culture, both analog and digital, current and historically and how this relates to geography, gender and age.
I plan to do a survey of DIY culture and information seeking. The exciting part of the survey will be to see how many different people I can reach. I am hoping to translate and get the survey out to as many different parts of the world as possible. If you think you can help with translation or by talking about the research on your blog or forum, please let me know in the comments below.
The next step for me now is literature review of the subject area. You can follow this on the blog. I hope to conduct this research through this blog and use you all as a network. Because who can tell me more about DIY culture and information seeking than those that are engaged in DIY culture on the internet.