Research Portfolio Post #9: End of Term Mentor Meeting

I met with Dr. Rovner on December 5th for half an hour to discuss the methodological practices which would be the most beneficial and the most interesting to pursue in the coming semester. In the beginning, I wanted to develop a cyberstrategy index which would have been entirely qualitative and would not have added much worth to the field besides explaining what strategy each state abides by. Dr Rovner recommended that I switch my focus to predictive analysis of what strategy an actor would develop. This led to pitfalls however as operationalizing this as a dependent variable proved exceedingly difficult. He returned to the point that operationalizing the dependent variable should be the primary goal and the rest of the project will follow suit. To that end, I have decided that large-n analyses is the best route forward with cyber power being the dependent variable and operationalized by the percentage of successful event compared to overall traffic.

He loved the idea of creating a database or index that tracked these numbers and then the idea of beginning to play with them to see the relative pull and strength of each variable. The vast majority of my variables will be development and telecommunications rates paired with a monetary focus. Similarly, the hypothesis’ will go along this route, focusing on the economic variables having more influence. Research wise, I will need to collect information across an arbitrary time in the United States about internet traffic as well as hostile events in order to operationalize my DV effectively. I will not need access to complete databases as I will be compiling my own which can later be used for analysis.

Going forward into 306, the majority of my fear/consternation is over the actual application of statistical analysis. I realize that we will have access to the stat lab and apparently there is a clear slant in the amount of neopositivists compared to interpretivists, so they will be able to aid me. However, going into something without 100% knowledge is obviously a source of stress.

Research Portfolio Post #2: Mentor Meeting

I met with Dr Rovner on September 5thfor 30 minutes to talk about my research project and the puzzles involved with it and, honestly, the conversation was extremely helpful. Overall, the conversation can be broken down into for main parts: the militarization of the internet, intelligence services and the internet, global projection vs national interest, and alarmist sources.

With the militarization aspect, we realized that perhaps developing a framework for legislation was too ambitious and the question that should instead be asked is how the military utilizes the internet in the modern age. The main utilization is communications but there exists a reluctance to completely use internet communiques instead of radio and direct line due to a variety of factors from false signals to data interception. For this question, I think I would employ a small-n or a large-n research practice to get empirical data on different services and sub-groups.

The Intelligence services and global projection vs national interest sections fall into relatively the same category in my opinion. For example, the United States, since the early nineties, has been a proponent of a free and fair internet that is universally accessible and safe. The question which can then be asked is how the United States intelligence services utilizes the internet vs foreign intelligence services in the context of global power projection vs national interest. For example, China has no qualms employing malware and trojan horses as it is in their national interest to do so, but the United States is attempting to remain the internet hegemon without sacrificing their normative values.

Finally, we talked about how many of the sources on cyberterrorism could be classified as alarmist as they present the worst possible scenario to their audience. This reminded me of the normative vs positivist research styles, and it has also pushed me toward thinking in a more positivist style in order to avoid, or at least give context to, sources which lean toward alarmism.

Moving forward with my project, I am either going to refocus it on how the military or intelligence services employ the internet to further their goals. Dr Rovner also showed me a source for US CyberCom which outlines the practices and methodologies of the Unites States as of 2019. I think I am going to employ positivist and small-n/ large-n research models as I think they will work best too.