A fresh set of reviews appeared this week on the Resource Center for Cyberculture Studies,  including my review of Internet Inquiry, edited by Markhan and Baym. Besides that fact that I really like the book, one of my motivations for writing the review was a guilty conscience…

This review is a way of assuaging my guilt for repeated comments made to Adolfo during his visit about his explanations of his research as combining online and offline aspects.  What an odd starting point, I exclaimed, no one uses that language analytically anymore! Well, that’s just not true, witness the entire section of the book Internet Inquiry that is set up around that dichotomy. I’m not going to repeat here what the problem is with that framing (read the review!) but I would like, hereby, to dedicate the review to Adolfo Estalella, in pennance for my pig-headed underestimation of the persistence of on/offline talk.


5 responses to “Biecht

  1. What I need right now is the little embedded feature (used by facebook) allowing people that read a certain comment to show all readers that “Dina likes this comment” 🙂
    Somehov it instantly made me smile.

    I remember some of those discussions. And I like this dedication. It’s always interesting when you have to change a perception of something old and used, and realize that there might be something to it anyway.

    It reminds me of the goods old anthropological debate concerning the concept of culture. In the eighties this concept almost started a war among some anthropologists as some said it had become a garbage category, whereas other pointed to all the features it carried with it that would also be lost by discarding it.

    Well Anyway, reading this post was a wonderful way to start the day. Thanks.

  2. Thanks Dina.

    The comparison with ‘culture’ is very interesting, but I think this is a little different.

    I’m not not not not not saying that I changed my mind and that I now think that online/offline is something valuable to hold on to as an analytic distinction!!! I’m saying that it’s now clear to me that lots of people don’t consider this language problematic, and therefore that my advice to skip making the argument was garbage. Because people, witness the book, still talk about ‘the online-offline distinction’ as though that means something. In this context, it becomes very important to address these terms, as Adolfo did.

  3. There are also a lot of people that does not considered “culture” problematic too.

    I am thinking of the concept of double hermeneutics. Is that what you are referring to to?

    In that case the concept might not bear much analytical value. But one might still take into account that because many people understand and define their relations and differences in terms of culture.
    In that case I would agree with you that culture might not be valuable as a concept that explains things by being added. Instead it is a (or more likely several interpretations of) a phenomenon that will acquire our attention because it exists as categories in our informants minds.

    I am not sure if that is what you mean, when talking about offline / online, but I saw some similarities to the old debate regarding “culture” 🙂

    • Yes, we are on the wavelength here. This distinction is what I was trying to tease out by labeling a particular use of on/offline as ‘analytic’ (as opposed to seeing them as ‘actor categories’).

  4. Thank you for the dedication.

    It is funny because, I am not fighting with that dichotomy anymore!!

    I will almost not put energy on discussing it, just taking for grating the continuity of the on/… well, I don’t want to use the dichotomy to say that it is not analytically meaningful.

    In the meantime, I have got involved in discussing the problems with a concepts such as ‘blogger culture’, so Dina, good comparison!

    Anyway, thank you very much for the dedication, Anne.

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