November 5, 2008


Most of the papers presented during the workshop were about studies done in mediated or online settings. The technologies that pervade these settings (and therefore also confronting researchers) pose new questions and challenges for ethnographic work. It was considered as a common problem, not so much as an advantage, among participants that one’s field is at times pervasive, and feel as though it is always available and easily present. New means for making notes, establishing and maintaining relationships and organizing the practice are required. But it is not unimportant for a researcher to go through the same learning processes as his/her participants do: finding a place, learning to use it technically, learning to participate culturally and socially and becoming a member in a community. So, the newness of these technologies is not something only researchers face, but their participants are in front of them as well. It is the very first step of ethnographic research in such places to study how they work.

Material related to online events challenges its ethnographer. Thus very practical tasks, such as taking of screen captures, could be made easier with more efficient technology. It appears as a problem that the amount of available data online is so enormous that handling of it becomes very laborious. However, it was noted that handling of ethnographic material has always required a lot of work. Finally, the ways in which technologies not only help to facilitate the research but also bring along values, their own agency, use practices, cultural meaning and so on, should be studied more carefully. For example blogging has made it possible to combine the writings of a researcher/blogger and participant/commenter, which then has showed a great influence on the research practices such as a potential decrease of the need for participant’s anonymity in some settings.

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