online research

Towards Multi-Dimensional Ethnography

JULIA KATHERINE HAINES Google, Inc. In this paper, I argue for the value of multi-dimensional ethnography. I explore the potential for ethnography to venture beyond sites, into different dimensions. As an example of work moving in this direction, I present a new approach, dubbed TRACES, which emphasizes the assemblages that constitute our lives, interweaving digital, embodied, and internal experiences. Various data streams and sources provide different vantage points for analysis and synthesis. I illustrate how we have used these to gain greater insight into the human lives we study, with different data sources providing different perspectives on a world, then delve into our use of tools, data sources, and methods from other traditions and other fields, which, combined, give us not only a more holistic picture, but a truer one, which refutes the false dichotomy of the digital and the real. I argue that we must continue to adapt and extend ethnography today into such spaces, and that reformulating the sites of ethnography as dimensions...

Taking Sides in E-cigarette Research

RACHELLE ANNECHINO Critical Public Health Research Group, Prevention Research Center TAMAR ANTIN Critical Public Health Research Group, Prevention Research Center In the last ten years, an eclectic mix of electronic nicotine delivery products (‘e-cigarettes’) and practices have proliferated in the US with little restriction, producing a vast array of vaping mechanisms, flavors, and styles. At the same time, anti-tobacco movements have targeted e-cigarettes as a threat to public health and advocated for restricting e-cigarettes in much the same way as conventional cigarettes. While anti-vaping proponents associated with public health movements have typically regarded e-cigarettes as primarily harmful products that should be suppressed, vaping advocates regard e-cigarettes as harm reduction products that should be readily accessible to smokers. Distrust between these two warring “sides” animates the controversy over e-cigarettes. In our role as researchers conducting a qualitative study on e-cigarette use, we encountered...

LOLZ OMG, I’M DEAD. The Rise of Performative Behavior in Social Media, and Its Implications for Digital Ethnography

KATHLEEN HARTNETT SapientNitro Download PDF PechaKucha—Performative behavior is an action taken specifically with an audience in mind, to elicit a response or reaction. Digital Ethnography encounters this on a daily basis, as we study behavior on social & digital networks where performative behavior is rampant. As a research source, social media behavior is often dismissed because of it’s orientation towards performance – but as people lead more omni-channel lives, the distinction between online and offline lives is becoming harder to discern. As such, we need to start viewing performative behavior as extensions of fully formed individuals. This means today’s Ethnographers need to become Digital Ethnographers as well, to better understand individuals as the sum of both thier online & offline personalities. Kathleen Hartnett lives in Brooklyn, NY and works at SapientNitro, where she leads the Social Insights capability within their Consumer Intelligence Practice. She is passionate about understanding how social media...

Paco – Applying Computational Methods to Scale Qualitative Methods

BOB EVANS Google, Inc. For several years we have been building and using an open mobile research platform, called Paco, that enables the scaling of qualitative research through quantitative, computational techniques. The platform provides a mechanism to design and deliver remote research instruments to mobile devices in the field and it provides mechanisms to abstract and develop new research tools....

Valuable Connections: Design Anthropology and Co-creation in Digital Innovation

METTE GISLEV KJÆRSGAARD and RACHEL CHARLOTTE SMITH This paper explores challenges and potentials for innovation and co-creation within an increasingly interconnected and digitalized world, and its affect on ethnographic practices within the field of design and business development. Our discussion is based on material from an interdisciplinary research and design project with a leading computer game developer, exploring opportunities of involving online gaming communities in innovation processes and product development. Based on our case, we argue that in a world with increasingly blurred boundaries between physical, digital and hybrid contexts, as well as design, production and use, we might need to rethink the role of ethnography within user centred design and business development. Here the challenge is less about ”getting closer” to user needs and real-life contexts, through familiarization, mediation, and facilitation, and more about creating a critical theoretically informed distance from which to perceive and reflect...

Small Packages for Big (Qualitative) Data

KIM ERWIN and THEODORE POLLARI Smart devices and online research platforms are changing the landscape of qualitative data collection and analysis. While data collection mechanisms have flourished, analytic tools to work with that data have not meaningfully evolved. Changes in professional practice and advances in technology are creating new opportunities—and new pressure —to develop software tools that are focused, simple to use, fit flexibly with a variety of analytic processes, adapt to different data sets and do not lock data into proprietary formats or researchers into predefined analytic processes. We call such tools Small Packages for Big (Qualitative) Data. This paper defines the concept and introduces three such early stage tools—Voyant, Mandala Browser and Nineteen, and links qualitative research to another field experiencing similar changes and tool development, the Digital Humanities. Lastly, we present a case study to demonstrate how Small Packages can focus investigations, build early-stage familiarity with data,...

Understanding Mediated Practices: Combining Ethnographic Methods with Blog Data to Develop Insights

JONATHAN BEAN and ZEYNEP ARSEL While theories of practice have been influential in the social sciences, these frameworks have seen limited application in ethnographic and applied inquiry, perhaps because few methods for carrying out practice theoretical research have been elaborated. We address this opportunity and provide an account of a multi-method inquiry on domestic practice. First, we explain methods for integrating data from blogs with ethnographic methods and how this data can be used to develop theory. Second, we share our experience as interdisciplinary researchers using ethnographic and quantitative data to connect work at the boundaries of social practice theory and theories of consumption. Finally, we share our insights on why industry should aim to better understand existing and emergent consumer practices....

Innovation in Collaboration: Using an Internet-Based Research Tool as a New Way to Share Ethnographic Knowledge

BETH DI LEONE and ELIZABETH EDWARDS Ethnography in business is only successful if it is a cooperative, communicative endeavor. Research teams must be able to share knowledge with one another and with the client. In the absence of effective communication, time is wasted, analytic quality can suffer, and the client may lose faith in the value of the project or the value of ethnography in business. This paper will address the subject of transmissivity by defining four key needs for knowledge sharing in collaborative ethnographic research: direct experience of the research context, even distribution of knowledge, coordinated development of analysis, and management of the client experience. After synthesizing the literature on knowledge sharing to define these four key needs, the paper will describe how an internet based research tool can enable global, continuous, and controlled information exchange, meeting these needs in a new way. This type of solution can facilitate communication and enrich contextual understanding, pointing in a new...

The Best of Both (Virtual) Worlds: Using Ethnography and Computational Tools to Study Online Behavior

NICOLAS DUCHENEAUT, NICHOLAS YEE and VICTORIA BELLOTTI In recent years, many ethnographers have conducted participant observation studies in virtual worlds, whether in games like World of Warcraft or user-generated environments like Second Life. However, the acceptance of digital fieldwork as a legitimate form of ethnography does not make it strictly identical to its physical counterpart. In particular, the logistics of virtual ethnography offer both opportunities and pitfalls that practitioners must address. The virtual nature of the space also compounds traditional issues such as generalizability and coverage. In this paper, we will highlight several interesting opportunities and challenges in conducting ethnography in virtual worlds. Moreover, we will then argue that the common problems shared by quantitative and qualitative social scientists in virtual world research serve to bridge the methodological divide, such that virtual ethnography could be greatly enhanced with the use of computational tools usually more associated with...

Keitai, Blog, and Kuuki-wo-yomu (Read the Atmosphere): Communicative Ecology in Japanese Society

TADAMASA KIMURA In mobile communications studies, Japan is known for its “keitai culture.” However, the actual use of keitai among the Japanese is anything but glamorous. On the other hand, strong preference of online diary and diary blogs among the Japanese is remarkable. What is puzzling, however, is that the Japanese online diarists and bloggers have been astoundingly self-effacing. What communications are they engaged in, with providing little information about themselves? Relying on and advancing the methodological perspective of “communicative ecology,” this study discusses the way online diaries and blogs are intertwined with mobile communications, embedded in the communicative ecology. It also reveals the way “kuuki wo yomu” (read the atmosphere) motivates people’s expectations and actions in social communications, contributing to the formation of the communicative ecology....

Living Avatars Network: Fusing Traditional and Innovative Ethnographic Methods through a Real-time Mobile Video Service

DENISA KERA and CONNOR GRAHAM This paper presents a study of new technologies potentially enabling access to a sensory feast of places by ‘wired up’ flanêurs, real-time as well as remote ‘native’ description and interactions and situated oral histories excavated through ‘being in a place’. We describe an inter-disciplinary research project examining the cultural heritage of Singapore and the use of geo-location technologies incorporating social networking platforms as a medium for interactive heritage walks. The goal of the project is to engage both locals and non-locals in experiencing Singapore from a first person perspective, giving them a wider understanding of the ethnic and cultural diversity. The Living Avatar Network (LAN) supports sharing experiences and realities in real time through making it possible to ‘walk in someone’s shoes’ through a living avatar, re-experiencing someone’s memories of a certain place. Here we describe the approaches deployed in evolving a prototypical service - ‘traditional’...