That's the last time I answer an MIT survey

Remember last summer how we all got sucked in by the clever viral marketing campaign to help some MIT grad student get his PhD by answering a long survey on our blogging habits? Remember how some of us even put his oh-so-cute buttons on our blogs to help spur traffic to the survey? Remember how he said he would eventually post the results?

He didn't. Instead, he tells Bostonist he's too busy with his new job - at Yahoo. One hopes not in the Weblog department.

Update: Tim, an MIT grad, has volunteered his time to help the author get the survey data online in a usable form.

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    Tattle!

    By on

    Contact the guy's PhD director. It probably won't right the wrong, but at least the school will be aware of the dangers of students making these types of promises to members of the public in the future.

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    Stop Snitchin'!

    By on

    I hear the guy is going to introduce a line of t-shirts called Wait Until I Show You My Survey, Bitch.

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    Voting is closed. 5

    Not in the library...

    ...online anyway.

    All MIT theses and dissertations (and it was in the service of a dissertation that this survey was conducted) are submitted to the MIT library at graduation time and are indexed and made available in the library's catalog.

    Cameron Marlow's undergrad thesis is listed in the catalog, but his dissertation is not. Bostonist implies that he's trying to hide the research; it's more likely that the thesis hasn't been cataloged yet. I have a call in to the MIT Archives to clarify the status of the dissertation and see if a copy can be made available.

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    Spoke to the Archives...

    ...and they've pulled Cameron's dissertation for me. I'll try to get some information up in the next week or so--at least to prove that the research exists and the survey respondents weren't left twisting in the wind.

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    It would still be nice...

    By on

    if that darned Aug. 19th message wasn't kicking around promising a Sept. 1 update. I didn't mean to imply he was hiding it...just all us in the blogosphere seem to have taken a backseat for him (I did mention it'd be cataloged at some point in the bostonist post). I'd love to see what you come up with for analysis.

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    status with dissertation

    Tim, what's the status with Cameron Marlow's dissertation, were you able to pull it? I sent an email to Cameron yesterday, but have not received a response, and also contacted the PR department at MIT and at the Media Lab. The people there were very un-helpful, and in one case rather dismissive. I take it you are at MIT. What are your thoughts on what this episode does to the MIT research brand?

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    Status update

    Sorry for the delay in replying. I was able to get to the archives at MIT in person on Wednesday, long enough to get hands on with the dissertation and ask for a few copies to be made.

    I took a few notes from the dissertation, titled "Structural Determinants of Media Contagion." "Media contagion" is the process of dissemination of news or opinion through media; this dissertation focused on weblogs. Cameron took two approaches of study to the question of how blogs influence the spread of ideas. One was a study of data from Blogdex of a couple of key stories, focusing on who pointed to whom. The other was the survey.

    Unfortunately the Library Archives closes at 4, and I had less than an hour to review the document. I hope to be able to post more detailed information about it shortly--but I'm about to hit the road for work for a week.

    Bottom line: yes, the dissertation exists; yes, there are some good analytical sections on the survey data. Unfortunately it will be another week or more before I have the access and time to the material to post another update.

    For the record, I am an MIT alum, so I have an interest in public perception of the Institute. But I also have a full time job and it takes some time to pull this stuff together. I'm not going to offer an opinion on the impact of an incident like this on the brand except to say that I think generally researchers and students should be careful about making promises like this one if they don't have the time to follow through.

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