... But such interviews and bumpings-in-tos – both actual and virtual - offer insight into Harbin's culture, especially vis-a-vis Harbin and economics, which we shall explore shortly.
Methodologically, interview-recording-transcription vs. interview-virtual world text chat transcript (with recordable voice possibilities) offer two versions of a similar participant-observation process, with different implications for ethnography. Face-to-face benefits vs. avatar-to-avatar benefits of participant observation offer similar varied possibilities for ethnographic understanding and analysis. And the lack of place-based ease of connecting / talking in virtual worlds vs. the ease of connecting/talking in virtual worlds, whenever, similar to the telephone, offer yet other possibilities. The benefits of touch in an actual Watsu session and exploring creative new movements vs. benefits of being able to explore virtual Watsu, even if there are no benefits of touch, with the possibilities of scripting creatively new movements, offer yet other possibilities for participant observation. And actual Harbin freedom vs. virtual Harbin freedom vis-a-vis clothing-optionalness and physical intimacy, and hippie agency, become new processes when studied ethnographically in a virtual Harbin.
In terms of Harbin's economy (which we shall return to in Chapter 8), and participant observation as method, commodities, land and Harbin's vision play significant roles in both actual and virtual Harbin's cultures. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/12/eagle-nebula-actual-and-virtual.html - December 14, 2010)