... In this book, I make the argument “that both actual Harbin and virtual Harbin open possibilities for kinds of virtual experience, which, in many ways, are countercultural, and thus make possible the exploring of 'avatar-ness,' and virtual freedoms, in their own lives in relation to their computers, as people and individuals” (http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/02/dragon-millipede-not-culture-but.html – February 20, 2010).
Participant observation of sociocultural processes in their own terms, emerging from the 1960s – so, what I'm calling counterculture here – in a somewhat remote-from-cities' valley in northern California, 40 years after the 60s, as method, engages questions of process and temporality (Cerwonka and Malkki 2007) as well as emergence (Fischer 2003), themes central to the contemporary work of 'theoretical' ethnographers. As further constructive, critical questioning, from an ethnographic perspective, how might we address, methodologically, the opening connectednesses of actual Harbin Hot Springs vis-a-vis the possible disconnectednesses of multimedia, interactive representations vis-a-vis digital, symbolic communication. While actual Harbin Hot Springs is very much about the clothing-optional, opening 'now' and 'oneness' of release, with physical intimacy,' in hot springs and in the Harbin pool area, virtual worlds like Open Simulator could be seen to cut people from connectedness, particularly 1960s-informed connectednesses, and even more so Harbin Hot Springs' 'now' connectednesses, – due to avatar-mediated communication. Naked avatars, releasing and cuddling in a digital, virtual, Harbin warm pool, for the end users who are causing and experiencing these digital actions, from her and his computer screens anywhere in the world, are disjunct from the embodied experiences of the actual, Harbin warm pool. In terms of ethnographic method, vis-a-vis, for example, “The Making of Virtual Harbin Hot Springs as Ethnographic Field Site” (MacLeod 2009 - url), one important ethnographically-constructive question might become: How can we create – ('make,' or 'generate,' both in terms of experience, as well as programming tools) – as well as communicate (generatively share information about), more related connectednesses digitally, and how can we best to ethnographically communicate these, especially interactively?
How might an ethnographic critic, similarly, constructively question this actual / virtual Harbin ethnography? ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/11/ceiba-pentandra-articipant-observation.html - November 8, 2010)