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Thoughts on virtual ethnography field notes June 19, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Ethnography, Social networking sites, Virtual Ethnography.
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Last week I just started writing field notes for my virtual ethnographical investigation of several Danish social networking sites. (I am doing participant observation – not only ‘lurking’). I found myself restricted in some way. There was something missing from what I wanted to report on basis of my online observations and experiences. Then I realized that I was missing all of my other observations and experiences with online social networking. Things that do not only come from a virtual ethnographical investigation of specific sites. Things such as my lectures on youngsters and Arto, my own internet usage, informal conversations with youngsters, parents, teachers and so on. Also, the fact that I have already conducted an extensive virtual ethnography once before effects my experiences during the new investigation.

Therefore I decided to include those perspectives in my field notes making them notes from my whole range of experiences rather than just the virtual ones. My supervisor, Pirkko Raudaskoski, pointed out that I was actually doing small field analyses instead of just writing field notes. In this connection she recommended that I look into Situational Analysis from Adele Clarke. (more…)

25 perspectives on social networking – part II June 17, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Social Networking.

Ever since I wrote the post on 25 perspectives on social networking I have been thinking about the many perspectives that I did not include in my list. Therefore, here are ten more perspectives on online social networking:

  • 26) The entertainment perspective
    Social networking sites are places young people use for entertainment just like any other medium. Here they watch videos, play games, upload pictures, listen to music etc. Thus, for many youngsters social networking sites have replaced the function that the tv set had for previous generations.
  • 27) The communication tool perspective
    Social networking sites are merely a communication tool for young people and they use the sites similar to how they use their mobile phones. In this connection I can mention that the most frequent message I have seen displayed in young people’s guest books is “Hi, what are you doing?”.
  • 28) The creative perspective
    Social networking sites allow youngsters to be really creative and mix and play with different types of content. My colleague Thomas Ryberg refers to this as ‘patchwork’ or ‘remix’ culture in his upcoming PhD thesis on young people, ICT and learning.
  • 29) The space and place perspective
    Social networking sites are spaces that allow young people to create their own place(s). And those places are as real and important as the offline places where they meet. Also, young people talk about social networking sites as places referring to them as e.g.. “in here”.

In the news – on young people and surveillance June 7, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Google, Media coverage, Surveillance, Web 2.0, Youngsters.
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Today my colleague Anders Albrechtslund and I hit the frontpage. The Danish newspaper Nyhedsavisen interviewed us about Google Maps Street View and how youngsters would relate to the surveillance. Read the article here.

Also, see my other press appearances here.

25 perspectives on social networking June 1, 2007

Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Social Networking.

Last night I was out giving one of my Arto-lectures on a school in Aalborg. This is always a nice input in everyday academic life making me see new approaches to social networking. The comments and questions from the people in the audience, who were mainly school teachers and principals, made me think of the many different ways to view social networking sites.

Therefore, here are twenty-five perspectives on online social networking:

  1. The consumer perspective
    Social networking sites are money-making machines creating a need for added value among young people causing them to spend all their pocket money on extra features such as VIP profiles, widgets, gifts for friends and so on.
  2. The youth perspective
    Social networking sites are places that help young people be young and let them “practice” youth. Therefore, the sites are mainly a reflection of youth culture.
  3. The friendship perspective
    Social networking sites are places where young people can maintain and nurse their existing (offline) friendships and create new (online) friendships.
  4. The identity perspective
    Social networking sites are spaces for identity construction. Here, young people are continuously constructing, re-constructing and displaying their self-image and identity. Also, the network sites make them co-constructors of each other’s identities. (more…)