November 4, 2008

Ethnography 2.0

So, here comes the first bit of workshop report:

Variety of available technologies, such as blogs and Internet discussion fora, are challenging the way ethnography can be understood. Notions of ‘lab’, ‘fieldwork’, researcher’s involvement and participants’ position became revised during the workshop as changing tools and practices seem to require it. While the three first papers presented were directly linked to research methodologies and suggested novel ways of conducting what has traditionally been known as fieldwork, several questions on future practices were raised during the other paper presentations, too. Researcher’s subjectivity, participants’ possibilities to actively participate in the research, ethical dilemmas and help of technological apparatus’ and software were among the themes discussed.

Generally, discussion moved between contesting and broadening the idea of ethnographic tradition(s) to labeling participants’ own work different from it. What became clear after the discussions was that many of the participants of the workshop seemed to feel that their research varies substantially from what they think ethnography is and how it should be conducted. At the same time participants’ practice seemed well‐developed and they were surprisingly like‐minded. The workshop made it possible to bring together ideas that would have been difficult or impossible to discuss in several other contexts. Many of the participants of the workshop do not, for example, have colleagues working with ethnography at their own departments.

The themes presented in the later posts were discussed throughout the workshop as fragments but were brought up several times. They reflect pressures and surprises researchers face when conducting ethnographic research on virtual environments and with new technologies. They are also about the intents to develop means, methods and methodologies in order to make things work in the middle of this changing environment.

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