... This virtual / actual distinction, and comparison, makes much rich, emergent ethnography fruitful.
On the other hand, in terms of constructive, critical questioning, are virtual worlds 'in their own terms' too close to actual worlds for ethnographic study since we, the creators of virtual Harbin, will draw so much from actual Harbin? In terms of method, will useful distinctions emerge? New forms of counterculture that emerge from actual Harbin into virtual Harbin may pale in comparison, yet in the construction of virtual Harbin via multimedia virtual worlds, unanticipated creativities may become a new form of the virtual, - i.e. Harbin generativity. 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).
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. ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2010/11/hot-pools-too-close-are-virtual-worlds.html - November 5, 2010)