Thoughts on virtual ethnography field notes June 19, 2007Posted by Malene Charlotte Larsen in Academic, Ethnography, Social networking sites, Virtual Ethnography.
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. I just bought the book, but so far it sounds really interesting. The theory proposes three kinds of analytic exercises:
1. situational maps that lay out the major human, nonhuman, discursive and other elements in the research situation of inquiry and provoke analysis of relations among them;
2. social worlds/arenas maps that lay out the collective actors, key nonhuman elements, and the arena(s) of commitment and discourse within which they are engaged in ongoing negotiations—mesolevel interpretations of the situation; and
3. positional maps that lay out the major positions taken, and not taken, in the data vis-à-vis particular axes of difference, concern, and controversy around issues in the situation of inquiry.
See more on the book’s website here.
I think that these approaches could be beneficial for my investigation and I will definitely try to combine them with the data and field analyses I am doing.