... And while virtual Harbin already has many braids in its woven narratives unfolding, an actual, virtual Harbin of the qualities of other Second life simulations, has not yet emerged.
The purpose of the methods I engage in this actual / virtual, Harbin, ethnographic comparison facilitate learning about 1) actual Harbin, 2) generating a virtual Harbin as ethnographic field site, 3) learning about virtual Harbin , and 4) examining qualities of the 'virtual' from these comparisons. While comparative and generative approaches could well engage statistical and positivistic, scientific approaches, participant observation in ethnography – here in the context of generating a virtual Harbin field site – generates new meanings to the 'virtual,' rooted in anthropological inquiry of culture and in relation to a legacy of travel and academic study, all virtual in their own ways. In examining beliefs, actions, art, habits, memes, practices, texts, and now digital multimedia and virtual worlds, anthropology's field of inquiry is already informed by assumptions of the virtual as representation, often through writing and characterizing. In engaging questions of representation as virtual, anthropologists draw on the significance and problematics of ethnographic authority.
In “The Predicament of Culture,” Jim Clifford questions ethnographic authority in shaping representations of ‘culture.’ ...
(http://scott-macleod.blogspot.com/2011/02/wilderness-waterway-purpose-of-method.html - February 1, 2011)