How do we express what we really mean? Especially when there is much depth to the topic we are discussing. The expression of depth and meaning was quite challenging when making our visual artefact. This is evident through the conversations that have subsequently transpired. The intention of the creator is not always the same as the interpretation of the reader or viewer. Getting meaning across is no small feat! I struggle with this when writing academically and it was exacerbated further when I tried to portray my critical thinking in a picture.
It was while I was grappling with ‘online interaction’, ‘initial assumptions’ and ‘developing nuanced understandings of the online social world’ (Kozinets 2010) of participating in the online community that is Education and Digital Cultures, that I had a discussion with two other participants that left me utterly perplexed. Perhaps this is what Kozinets (2010) meant about ‘interpretive social cues'(p 24) developing between communities. The discussion is below:
What ultimately left me perplexed is how a conversation started by discussing MOOCs ended up with ‘[t]he sex industry’ being ‘an early adopter of new tech’. Did I miss something? Some earlier conversation where this would make sense? Is this part of the heirachy of our own online community of which I am not a part? Perhaps I’m looking too hard for meaning and this is simply an effort to build rapport in our online community. It’s lead me to question; how do we construe meaning from online exchanges that are less than 140 characters long? Is what we are trying to express being accurately conveyed? Do our readers/viewers understand what we mean? How do we record and interpret qualitative data objectively if a) the meaning is not clear; b) if we are part of that community ourselves?
I suppose what I’m wondering, as we head off to do our own ethnographic studies in our MOOCs, is how to construct meaning out of comments and behaviour online when it is clear that we cannot take all information we see at face value. I look forward to finding out.
Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.