... Focus groups, as another methodology, may well be a fascinating way to further explore the culture of Harbin, especially in virtual worlds.
The ways in which ethnographic methodologies will diverge, as well as articulate, vis-a-vis actual and virtual Harbin offer a rich opportunity to further explore the virtual and actual, methodologically. There will be some avatars at virtual Harbin who never visit actual Harbin, and some actual Harbin visitors who never visit virtual Harbin. Some of these Harbinites, both Harbin residents and visitors will visit both a lot. Some virtual Harbinites will only learn about Harbin through web sites and printed literature, never visiting the actual or virtual site. The possibility to save a text-chat transcript, as record and archive, differs a lot from the ethnographer transcribing a recording of a conversation. In virtual Harbin, it will be possible to record conversations, and then for the ethnographer to transcribe them, but no text-chat possibilities exist at actual Harbin. At actual Harbin, many people travel to and spend the night either camping or in a room, as well as spend time in the pool area, and hang out with people; this adds a transformative aspect, in my experience, to the experience of actual Harbin. At virtual Harbin, people will be able to log in from their home, for exmaple, fly up to the warm pool, take off their virtual clothes, and go for a virtual soak, and potentially talk in the warm pool via text-chat. There's a sign that discourages talking in the actual Harbin warm pool these days, although people talked and whispered in the Harbin warm pool in the 1990s over years, when I visited. The similarities are also many, place-to-platform. The topography will be familiar, as may be the New Age language. It will be possible to do Watsu together. As ethnographer, I'll engage new and different methodologies will of these processes, some of which will build on Tom Boellstorff's experiences in his ethnography of Second Life (2008:79).
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2011/01/oasis-osprey-ways-in-which-ethnographic.html - January 7, 2011)