Three particular aspects of the contemporary Internet experience have repeatedly struck me as especially challenging to the development of ethnographic strategies. For development of an ethnographic strategy for the Internet, it has seemed particularly significant that it isembedded in various contextualizing frameworks, institutions, and devices, that the experience of using it is embodied and hence highly personal and that it is everyday , often treated as an unremarkable and mundane infrastructure rather than something that people talk about in itself unless something significant goes wrong. These three “Es”—for shorthand purposes, the E3 Internet— provided a backdrop for thinking about why it is difficult to apply ethnographic principles to the contemporary Internet, and how we might do so successfully.
Hines brings to my attention that a virtual ethnographer has the choice of adopting an embedded, embodied and everyday (E3) perspective or a cyberspatial perspective, wherein the online space is viewed as more self-contained. For the purpose of my upcoming mini-virtual ethnography, a cyberspatial approach seems most apt, in part due to the scale – I also need to narrow my research question so that it fits within this perspective.
Hines, C. (2015). Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, Embodied and Everyday. Bloomsbury Publishing [e-book]. Retrieved from https://ebookcentral.proquest.com/lib/ed/detail.action?docID=1873332.
I’ll blog about Kozinets’ chapter at a later point, and link to it here. Whereas the chapter focuses on developing social understandings of online spaces, in the video Kozinets provides a brief introduction to netnography, and describes a case study in which netnography was used as a marketing tool. Key (pragmatic) points for netnographic process (from the video):
-establish research question
-identify potential fields and choose which you will focus on
-observe (swimming in the data)
-analyse for key themes
-(when using netnography for marketing) respond to collected data with marketing strategy.
In Massiveness + Open = New Literacies of Participation (2013), Stewart identified 3 integral components to MOOCs:
“the connectivity of social networking, the facilitation of an acknowledged expert in a field of study and a collection of freely accessible online resources” (McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier, 2010)
Yet, as Stewart further highlights, the story of MOOCs is often (misleadingly) told through that of online education in general, globalization and networked learning (p. 228), and the original values (autonomy, interaction, exploration, contribution) and characteristics (’emphasizing networked practices, knowledge generation, and many-to-many channels of communication’) MOOCs subverted or overlooked. The video explores the history, nature and values of MOOCs, as per McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier’s (2010) research, in more detail.
Reading/watching this research unfold today, with the proliferation of so-called xMOOCs that frequently focus on delivery of information or course content (Stewart, 2013), it seems almost idealistic. Yet, it is true that networked technologies have the capacity (and indeed are, though less frequently) to be used in the way McAuley, Stewart, Siemens & Cormier (2010) propose: a reminder that technology cannot be separated from social practice and context.
Looking forward to observing how networked practices come into play in my MOOC next week..
This short video by Dave Cormier provides advice on how to succeed in a MOOC:
Since my attendance in an as yet undecided MOOC next week will be for the purposes of conducting a min-visual ethnography rather than complete the MOOC successfully, it is not all totally relevant. However, the steps/phases declare, network, cluster seem to be key to community formation – so something to look out for, and to think about with regard to my own participation.