Ethnography in virtual worlds

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We believe that virtual worlds and similar Web 2.0 spaces hint at an emerging mixed or "hybrid" ethnographic methodology that depends on agile collaborations between quantitative researchers, qualitative researchers, and software engineers. This is not just an academic enterprise. The ability to glean this data has many implications for designing and scaffolding online communities, learning new aspects of personality and social behavior in online worlds, and mapping digital personas to physical needs. The ability to leverage this architecture for more tailored marketing is one commercial opportunity. In addition to inferring basic demographics, personality inferences may lead to more nuanced methods of targeted advertising. And the ability to infer demographics based on online interaction metrics helps fill in the gaps left from zip code segmentation alone -- after all, not everyone who lives in your neighborhood (or in your home!) is exactly like you...

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