Christine Hine argues that ethnography is ‘a methodology that offers little in the way of prescription to its practitioners and has no formula for judging the accuracy of its results’ (Hine, 2000, 3). To someone such as myself, having never carried out an ethnographic study before, these words are not particularly reassuring. However, as I have been working towards the completion of my digital ethnography, I have been buoyed by the abundant presence of online advice regarding the skills, motivations and qualities required to conduct a study of this nature. Consequently, this week’s lifestream blog has mostly crystallised around these pockets of guidance. ‘How to do Ethnography’ by the Visual Communicating Guy (VCG) was particularly useful in how it established eight clear steps in conducting ethnographic research. Although, as the scope of our digital ethnography is limited and small-scale, some of those steps (e.g. Step 6 &7) are not pertinent. The YouTube video of Professor Sienna Craig, outlining the ethical considerations was also very helpful in establishing some of the ethical parameters that I should be considering, as I continue to observe and be a part of my online community.
However, it was the YouTube videos by Robert Kozinets and Daniel Miller that were most pivotal in helping to bridge the gap between the ethnographic aspect of the study and the world of digital education. As Miller states the study of anthropology, in its desire to understand people, is essentially the most appropriate crucible for understanding the world of digital.
Hine, C. (2000) The virtual objects of ethnography, in Hine, C. Virtual Ethnography, pp. 41 – 66, London: Sage