Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

DTC-OII Ethnography Online 2011


Published on

Slides from the Oxford Internet Institute Doctoral Training Centre session on Ethnography, 24 November 2011

Published in: Education, Technology
  • Be the first to comment

DTC-OII Ethnography Online 2011

  1. 1. OII 2011Eric T. Meyer & Rebecca EynonOxford Internet Institute,
  2. 2. • Ethnographic tradition• What’s new about the Internet?• What topics work?• Methods, old and new• Data: what to collect, how to organize it, how to analyse it, how to report it• Ethical considerations
  3. 3. Bronislaw Malinowski with Trobriand Islanders in 1918. NAPOLEON CHAGNON with the Yanomamo Indians he studied in the Brazilian Amazon ca 1960s-1990s Margaret Mead: Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)Source 1: 2: 3:
  4. 4. Kula RingSource:
  5. 5. Bronislaw Malinowski with Trobriand Islanders in 1918. NAPOLEON CHAGNON with the Yanomamo Indians he studied in the Brazilian Amazon ca 1960s-1990s Margaret Mead: Coming of Age in Samoa (1928)Source 1: 2: 3:
  6. 6. Source of Gorean image: Bardzell & Odom (2008). The Experience of EmbodiedSpace in Virtual Worlds: An Ethnography of a Second Life Community. space andculture 11(3): 239-259 Innikka Equipped with the Amice of Brilliant Light from the Black Temple Source: Nardi (2010). My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft Tom Boellstorff/Tom Bukowski COMING OF AGE IN SECOND LIFE (2008) Image Source:
  7. 7. 1.Choose a topic2.Determine the boundaries3.Imagine some theories
  8. 8. Image source: Image source:
  9. 9. Very common method in ethnographic research  Suitable for gathering in-depth information, opinions and exploring people’s thinking and motivation  Flexible
  10. 10. +ve Good fit with other parts of the research Particularly good for certain topics Reduces costs & increase convenience-ve May not give you the whole story Requires a new skill set Can be more difficult to analyze the data Online (e.g. email, online chat rooms, instant messaging, skype, videoconferencing, virtual worlds)
  11. 11.  Typically non-probability sampling  Purposive  Snowball  Convenience
  12. 12.  Online & offline Details of research What to expect (e.g. amount of time, kinds of questions) Incentives Ethical considerations  Informed consent  Agreeing levels of confidentiality & anonymity Technical considerations
  13. 13. “..the goal of finding out about people through interviewing is best achieved where…the interviewer is prepared to invest his or her personal identity in the relationship” Oakley, 1981:41
  14. 14.  Preparation of questions and devising an interview schedule But online means you need to consider… Delivery / timing of questions  “Chunking” of schedule?  Asynchronous or synchronous Errors Asking sensitive questions Importance of pilot & reflection
  15. 15. Asynchronous Synchronous More thoughtful, in-  Most similar to face to depth responses face Easier to moderate  More spontaneous Addresses problems of  Less ‘polished’ different time zones More dropout  Quicker ‘Polished’ responses  Difficulties with moderation (interruptions, question creation, group dynamics…)
  16. 16.  Make notes immediately after the session The importance of listening Transcripts versus detailed notes
  17. 17.  Ability to modify text before it is sent Cannot be certain participants are who they say they are Don’t know where the interviewees are based / what they are doing at the same time Less in-depth responses (more to the point) More open / honest online? Reduced NVC Can you compare both kinds of interviews in the context of the same study?
  18. 18. Source:
  19. 19. Source: Jacob Nielsen (1995). Card Sorting to Discover the Users Model of the Information Space.
  20. 20. Source: Horowitz, D.M. (2007). Applying Cultural Consensus Analysis To Marketing. Unpublished Ph.D. Dissertation, FloridaState University, Department of Marketing
  21. 21. Triad Tests
  22. 22. Source:
  23. 23. Lineages related to Timothy Asch / Napoleon Chagnon film The Axe FightSource:
  24. 24. Bernie Hogan: Group Structure in FacebookSource:
  25. 25. FamilyLocal Friends Three co-worker groups Friends
  26. 26. DataWhat to collect, how to organize it, how to analyse it, how to report it
  27. 27.  Be clear about your approach (reliability / dependability) Are the results credible to the group you studied? (internal validity / credibility) How do these findings relate to other work on the topic? (external validity / transferability) Use quotes carefully  examples and to give a voice to participants Be explicit about your own role and bias, & the influence of the context of the research  Alternative viewpoints & negative instances (objectivity / confirmability)
  28. 28.  Ethical governance in traditional research settings  Is the human subjects model always appropriate? Challenges in devising a code of practice in a global context Disciplinary boundaries Sensitivity to context A balancing act  Protected but not burdened
  29. 29.  Protection of harm online  More difficult to assess, depends on the nature of the method  Strategies (make it clear participants can leave, prior rapport with participant, establishing netiquette) Ensuring anonymity and confidentiality  Perceived anonymity of the Internet  To be considered at all stages of the research Informed consent  Distance between researcher & participant, challenges anonymity strategies, verifying ability to give informed consent  Strategies (email discussion, readability of documents, use of quizzes, recruitment strategy and verifying identity)
  30. 30.  The online social setting: formally public, but respect the conventions for the privacy of the space?  Be sensitive to context Disclose researcher identity?  Online possibilities are different from offline (ID tag) ‘Invasion’ of researchers  Respect social milieu Connect with people offline?  Weigh burden on research participant
  31. 31.  Tools for capture are more powerful than for capturing offline interactions Anonymous data about populations, but surveillance? Reproducing and anonymizing captured interactions, but possible identification by search?
  32. 32.  The ethics of internet research are becoming ‘professionalized’ via AoIR Yet many novel issues continue to be raised  across academic disciplines  intertwined with broader social changes (e.g., official data, commercial interests etc)
  33. 33.  Ess, C. (2006) ‘Ethics and the Use of the Internet in Social Science Research’. In: Adam Joinson, Katelyn McKenna, Tom Postmes and Ulf-Dietrich Reips (eds) Oxford Handbook of Internet Psychology. Oxford and New York: Oxford University Press. pp 487-503. Madge, C. (2007) Developing a geographers agenda for online research ethics. Progress in Human Geography 31(5): 654–674 Pittenger, D. (2003) Internet Research: An Opportunity to Revisit Classic Ethical Problems in Behavioural Research, Ethics and Behaviour, 13(1): 45-60 Schroeder, R. (2007) ‘An Overview of Ethical and Social Issues in Shared Virtual Environments’, Futures: The Journal of Forecasting, Planning and Policy, 39 (6): 704-717 Stern, S. (2003) ‘Encountering distressing information online research: a consideration of legal and ethical responsibilities’, New Media and Society, 5(2): 249-266 Varnhagen, C., Gushta, M., Daniels, J., Peters, T., Parmar, N., Law, D., Hirsch, R., Takach, B., and Johnson, T. (2005) ‘How informed is online consent?’ Ethics and Behaviour, (15)1: 37-48 Zimmer, M. (2010) ‘‘But the data is already public’’: on the ethics of research in Facebook. Ethics and Information Technology, 12(4), 313-325
  34. 34. Information Ethnographers of interest (list courtesy of David Hakken, Indiana University, available at : Anderson, anthropology, Catholic University (Arab informatics)Steve Barley, management, Stanford (Researching engineers in Silicon Valley)Genevieve Bell, anthropologist, Intel (Cross-cultural study of technology, especially Asia)Tom Boellstorff, UC Irvine (Anthropology)Pablo Boczkowski, MIT (Sloan School of Management)Gabriella Coleman, anthropology, University of Chicago (Open Source and the Cultural Imaginary)Andy Crabtree, Sociology, University of Nottingham, UK (organizations, systems development; rapid ethnographic assessment)Joe Dumit, anthropology, (Director of STS program, UC-Davis)Jan English-Lueck, Anthropology, San Jose State (Silicon Valley Project)Joan Fujimura (Sociology, University of Wisconsin)Keith Hampton, MIT (Department of Urban Studies and Planning)Penny Harvey, anthropologist, University of Manchester (UK) (Museum informatics)Stephen Helmreich, History of Consciousness, MIT (Artificial Life, Bio-informatics)Adrienne Jenik, UCSD, (Computer and Media Arts)Lori Kendall, SUNY Purchase (Sociology)Jean Lave, Education and anthropology, University of California at BerkeleyGustavo Mesch, University of Haifa (Sociology and Anthropology)Bonnie Nardi, (Informatics, UC-Irvine)Carsten Oesterlund, Information Studies, Syracuse University (health informatics)Wanda Orlikowski, management, MIT (organizational informatics)Bryan Pfaffenberger, anthropology in the School of Engineering, University of Virginia (technology)Sandeep Sahay, Informatics, University of Oslo (development informatics)Susan Leigh Star, Sociology, University of Santa Clara (Classification; science informatics)Lucy Suchman, anthropology/ethnomethodology, University of Lancaster (UK)Sharon Traweek, UCLA (science informatics)Sherry Turkle, MIT (Sociology)Nina Wakeford University of Surrey (Sociology and INCITE)
  35. 35. In small groups plan how you would go about doing avirtual ethnography for one of the topics/communities youselected earlier.• Think about: – constructing the study – gathering and managing the data – the methods you would use – analysing the data – issues when analysing the data – ethical considerations
  36. 36. Eric T. Meyer Rebecca Eynon