Social media ethnography: the digital researcher in a messy web
From the title I could tell that the text will be something I am familiar with already because I have learned about ethnography at the beginning of the course so I was interested to deepen my knowledge about it and maybe see ethnography in a different context.
According to the text, ‘social media are increasingly central to contemporary everyday life and scholarship’ which means that not only is it part of our free time but also lately it has been taking huge part in studies and doing research in particular. People are starting to use social media for investigating because they can explore blogging and look into people’s Facebook, Twitter, Myspace, etc. On one had it is a great development because it makes researcher’s life easier and he/she doesn’t have to go to a certain location to get the data for a research project. However, it can be really dangerous for both researcher and the person who is being researched. The researcher, because of a great population of internet trolls and pirates. For the researched person, because everything that is posted online, stays online even if it is ‘removed’. It was written what a researcher has to do in order to do digital ethnography which includes ‘catching up, sharing, exploring, interacting and archiving’ and after analysing every single step I came to a conclusion that almost all of us who are not professional researchers do something related with digital research every day. Especially if you are a part of a fandom because you will most likely want to follow your idols on social media, watch the most recent interviews, keep up to date with the most popular hashtags, etc.
I have a feeling that doing digital ethnography is really difficult because, as the authors mention, the digital is constantly progressing and changing and the information that was on the internet yesterday might be completely different today. That is why it is called the ‘messy web’ and that is why a good researcher has to be always in the ‘researching process’, keeping up to date.
The text was divided I two sections and bits of theory were mixed with a story of a research project about social media and activism that researchers did in Barcelona. A layout like this made me confused because not only did I not fully find out about the Spanish research outcome but the meaning of digital ethnography or a ‘messy web’
was fully explained.
* Postill, J. and S. Pink in press 2012. Social media ethnography: the digital researcher in a messy web. Media International Australia