It was revealing to notice an exchange between two students on my Mooc. One of the activities on the course was to suggest different uses for pictured everyday objects in order to break their association with what they ‘do’ and encounter them in new ways.
One of these objects was a stick and one student posted the suggestion that it could be used to hang something woven as a wall hanging, an object you might find featured on the social networking site Pinterest.
Another student commented on this post, an occurrence which departs from the predominant use of the discussion boards in the mooc as they are most often used to post responses to the mooc activities rather than exploited by students as opportunities to communicate with each other. (Although when students do communicate with each other, it is in a helpful and affirming way.)
The second student was amused that the first had suggested such a use for the stick and said that she’d had the exact same thought. She remarked, (using different words), that they were both aficionados (Kozinets’ “devotees” (2009, p.33) of the same social networking site.
It was fascinating to see in this educational community space two students recognising a shared interest expressed in terms of the technology that best enables an aspect of its pursuit online. Pinterest is a site well-known for its adoption by creative craft communities. This community appears to conform to Kozinets’ description of forums which have “social dimensions ‘baked in’ to their formats” (p.32). It was an interesting perspective, too, on the technological affordance which Pinterest is, to see how aptly it fits its use or has been colonised and shaped by its users:
Technology constantly shapes and reshapes our bodies, our places, and our identities, and is shaped to our needs as well. Understanding of the way this transformation unfolds requires us to keep a keen eye on particular and general contexts … A thorough understanding of these contexts requires ethnography.
(Kozinets, 2009, p.22)
Kozinets, R. V. (2010). Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.