Wednesday, October 26

rethinking research

In January this year I started thinking about a research topic for my final thesis in anthropology...first thoughts (this really feels ages ago now, in hindsight) were about virtual ethnography (I had just looked into Christine Hines' book Virtual Ethnography and Miller & Slaters' The Internet an Ethnographic Approach). I wondered if I coud do an overview of the methods anthropologists used to do research online and wanted to relate them to the outcome - showing that method is never seperate from result. My supervisor then asked me to look for a "topic" - a methods-only-thesis was no real option for her.

Soon after that I discovered Blogging thoughts by Mortensen & Walker
as well as an article on open source anthropology by Kerim Freeman and "Making the electronic text canonical" by Alex Golub.

Kerim Freeman and Alex Golub were the first anthro-bloggers I started reading, but soon became one of my favourite anthro-blogs too (in those days before savageminds I was really searching for long to find some more academic bloggers from my own field).

As I see now, by mid Februrary I was already reading Lilias blog - and preparing a presentation about weblogs at the department for anthropology of europe.
(had I known then that this presentation was postponed, I wouldn't have worked so busily...another sign that I really need deadlines for getting going!)

At the same time I wondered:
[...] if keeping a blog could be useful for an keeping and editing "field notes", links, ideas, snippets of thoughts - whatever. What about people stealing your ideas? And isn't a blog through it's very nature of being public going to influence the way you write about "the others"? Does it make sense to keep a blog in "normal" anthropological research? I mean I do see the point in doing so when one's into "virtual ethnography", but what are the limitations of blogging - are there any?
Reading Alireza Doostdars The Vulgar Spirit of Blogging was another eye-opener and made me think a lot. It was the first article on Weblogs by an anthropologist that I got my hands on! As it was published in the American Anthropologist it made me sure that the direction my interests were heading was a new but "accepted" one in my field of studies.
[to be continued]

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