Monday, December 6, 2010

Marmoset: Participant observation, Bridges differences of virtual and actual Harbins

Harbin ethnography:

... Instead, further communicative, connecting and soaking 'practices' grow, for example, as actual and virtual Harbins' 'cultures' develop through time, in its ever present now-now, coming into conversation with contemporary ethnographic practices. Back to the actual pools.

Participant observation, in actual and virtual worlds, and warm pools, as method, is edifying, successfully bridges their differences, and can be richly informative as a form of knowledge-production; visiting Harbin is also very enjoyable. To justify these methods as a way to bridge the chasm between studying actual and virtual Harbin, by writing a book which explicates both in their connectedness, via comparisons and contrasts, is not only sensible, it highlights the beauty of ethnographic method in numerous ways. Participant observation as an approach to studying communicative practices, including building, at both actual and virtual Harbins, is not only ethnographic, but emerges directly from the trajectories of intellectual inquiry that have given shape to this anthropological method for over a century, in contrast to the claim that “there is no incontrovertible basis on which to decide whether an approach is or is not ethnographic” (Hine 2005:8 in Boellstorff 2008:71), and also by coming into close conversation with Boellstorff's book “Coming of Age in Second Life: An Anthropologist Explores the Virtually Human.” And further, these Harbin ethnographic practices, including the generation of virtual Harbin for anthropological study, both in terms of Techne and communication, illustrates Marilyn Strathern's thesis that “the nature of ethnography entailed in anthropology's version of fieldwork” involves “the deliberate attempt to generate more data than the investigator is aware of at the time of collection. … Rather than devising research protocols that will purify the data in advance of analysis, the anthropologist embarks on a participatory exercise which yields material for which analytical protocols are devised after the fact (Strathern 2004:5-6 in Boellstorff 2008:71). Such open-ended ethnographic approaches, with both actual and virtual Harbins' articulations, generate many different and new kinds and amounts of data, for which both anthropology and media-related studies are develop new analytical approaches. In this this actual / virtual Harbin book, anthropology is the umbrella of understanding the human in the Harbin warm pool when it's raining, where ethnography is the participant observation there, with writing and virtual world building creation.


Participant observation, in the context of such a comparison as this actual / virtual Harbin ethnography, makes possible generative, new approaches to gathering data about sociocultural and communicative interaction, and important aspects of Harbin's culture. ...

( - December 6, 2010)

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