Thursday, December 16, 2010

Deep Star Field: Ethnographic field work, Vision of the growing Harbin, Economics

Harbin ethnography:

... In this context, and in relation to this recent Harbin purchase of actual land, participant observation, as method, makes possible an articulation of countercultural vision, with finances, in unique processual and temporal ways.

So, ethnographic field work leading to the above interview with Ishvara, where he expresses his vision of growing Harbin, as well as his bumping into me in the warm pool, finds social meaning (Boellstorff 2008:75) in Harbins' interactions - communication-wise, financially and even physically - in combination with synthesizing various articulating 'cultural' milieus, processes, and temporalities, such as a Harbin hippie 'vision,' since 1972 when Ish bought the property cum economics cum the warm pool. Through these two examples of interacting with Harbin's found, Ishvara, I hope to suggest that participant observation offers approaches to 'knowledge-about' Harbin, in unique and significant ways from any other kinds of social scientific approaches (e.g. social psychology of the Harbin dressing room, or workshops, vis-a-vis Zimbardo 1973), or even scientific ones (e.g measuring Ishvara's ability to relax, using, a recent, innovative, human-computer, interface, headband device, which allows an enduser to pick letters from a key board with only her 'mind' to spell words on a screen (like “hello world,” the example Junker and others have used), without language or gestures, - and which, to function well, requires the end user to relax, to become chill. When Andrew Junker, the inventor, brought this to try to the British physicist, and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking, who has Lou Gehrig's disease and who is also quite disabled, tried this, he couldn't relax enough to make the Brainfingers' device function properly, for example, according to Junker (personal communication 2007). Interpretive anthropology, grounded in field work – here in this actual / virtual Harbin ethnography, re-conceived as pool play – and the making of a virtual Harbin in a virtual world, makes possible not only generative knowledge – interactive, multimedia representations in digital technologies – but also new approaches to comparative participant observation.

Participant observation, both on-the-ground as well as in-virtual-worlds, makes possible different approaches to conducting field work / pool play, gathering data and taking notes. ...

( - December 16, 2010)

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