Folks interested in research methods for studying the Internet can check out The Digital Methods Initiative, an Amsterdam-based group of new media scholars who have been developing tools and techniques for this increasingly massive undertaking since 1999.
The Digital Methods Initiative is directed by Richard Rogers (who paid the Annenberg School an extended visit last year).
The website is a hub of many of “the tools and scripts that we use to study the web in particular,” as explained in the site’s About section. Such tools and methods
“have been made to extend the research into the blogosphere, online newssphere, discussion lists and forums, folksonomies as well as search engine behavior. These tools include scripts to scrape web, blog, news, image and social bookmarking search engines, as well as simple analytical machines that output data sets as well as graphical visualizations….For example, how to study Internet censorship (by using proxies)? How to study information inclusion and exclusion (by interrogating robot.txt exclusion policies)? How to study surfer pathways (using measures of ‘related sites’)? How to study site reputation (by hyperlink analysis)? How to study a site’s search engine placement over time (by storing and querying within engine results)?Additionally the Digital Methods Initiative provides views on the value of visualization. How to output the results of the analyses (in ranked lists, in cluster graphs, in line graphs, in clouds, on maps)? Which visualizations communicate findings? Which visualizations embed critical ways of seeing?”
You can also add their blog to your reading stream for updates on research, lecture slides, and course announcements.