Tag Archives: virtual ethnography

Co-presence as ethnographic approach

Much of the ethnographic work that goes on at the VKS has been shaped by the tradition of ethnographic lab studies from Science and Technology Studies. These past couple of years, as the VKS has explored the humanities and e-research, these ethnographic methods have been adapted. A number of conference presentations and publications (this one and this one, among others) on this topic have been the result.

An upcoming contribution in Social Studies of Science is called from From Co-location to Co-presence. Here’s what it’s about:

As STS scholars increasingly study forms of knowledge production where the space of the lab (or similar locale) is much less central, other ways of conceptualizing the field may be especially useful for ethnographic research. In particular, ethnographic approaches must loosen their grip on co-location as a necessary requirement for ‘being in the field’, if they are to consider important issues about knowledge production that arise in fields, such as those in the humanities or e-research. Key STS topics, like new forms of authoritative knowledge, the changing shape of scientific work, and dynamics of innovation can be explored through ethnography. But in order to do so, the ethnographic approach must adapt in order to study these fields in which research practices are not concentrated in lab-like spaces.

By using co-presence rather than co-location as a starting point to conceptualise and articulate fieldwork, new aspects of knowledge production are foregrounded in ethnographic studies. This research note proposes and discusses co-presence as an epistemic strategy that pays close attention to non-lab based knowledge production; that can embrace textuality, infrastructure and mediation; and that draws into relief the role of ethnographer as author, participant-observer and scholar.

Because it does not assume the centrality of shared space, the notion of co-presence can be useful in ethnographies of e-research, as well as of other fields in the sciences and humanities that involve highly mediated forms of research or where the lab does not figure so prominently.

This work was discussed at the workshop In the Game, held in Copenhagen last October as an AoIR pre-conference workshop.

In The Game: Ethnographic relationships, mediation and knowledge

A pre-conference workshop was held in conjunction with the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers, in Copenhagen, Denmark. The workshop was set up around work in progress on the topic of ethnographic relationships, as articulated in the call for papers (see VKS website).

names mosaic

names mosaic

Contributions were structured around the way research relations in ethnography are being reconfigured in terms of the themes of contiguity, accountability, affectivity & embodiment, and scholarly practices. All participants had submitted papers in progress, and these were circulated ahead of the workshop. Hanna Wirman acted as reporter for the event, setting up a blog and documenting it textually and photographically. Each paper was discussed for half an hour, beginning with the comments of an assigned respondent, followed by general discussion. The exchanges that ensued were marked by a high level of engagement, and participants enjoyed the detailed and in-depth feedback they each received from the respondents and participants. The discussions of papers were critical, yet the mood was very supportive, and debates around several themes that cut across papers evolved over the course of the day. The workshop ended with a wonderful dinner in town for all participants, where conversation continued.

Much more about this event can be found at http://inthegameworkshop.blogspot.com

Call for Participants

AoIR preconference workshop

The next international activity of the Virtual Ethnography Collaboratory will be a pre-conference workshop at Internet Research 9.0: Rethinking Communities, Rethinking Place, to be held on 15 October 2008 in Copenhagen, Denmark. The workshop is entitled In The Game: Ethnographic Relationships, Mediation and Knowledge. The aim of the workshop is to examine a core issue in ethnographic work, the ethnographic relationship, in terms of the specific challenges encountered by researchers who work mainly in and on mediated settings.

The workshop is organised by Anne Beaulieu (Virtual  Knowledge Studio, The Netherlands) Marinka Copier (Utrecht University, The Netherlands) and T.L. Taylor (IT University of Copenhagen, Denmark), in collaboration with AoIR (Association of Internet Researchers).

More information about the scope of the event and various deadlines can be found on the VKS website.