Twitter ethnography

Fascinating post by Beth Kanter about Twitter As Ethnographic Research Tool.
She's not actually using twitter ethnographically but there are two real stand-out issues for me. One is that Twitter (or an equivalent) may be a really useful tool when conducting what could be referred to as "ethnography2.0". One of the problems that caused much debate in the field of virtual ethnography is the issue of "presence"; how do you maintain your presence as an ethnographer within an online setting. Twitter is all about presence.
The other thing that really stands out is Beth's use of a flickr photo set as a means of representation. It's a lovely little technique for representing qualitative data and gives a fascinating feel to the participants. One of the challenges of ethnography 2.0 is working with diverse media and representing ethnography in a web2.0 context. In the same way that Wesch's crew are using YouTube as well as studying it for their Digital Ethnography work, sites like flickr, tools like twitter, connotea and and so on well become central to the practice of conducting ethnography2.0.
I suspect that one of the best ways of approaching transliteracy, given that we don't really know what it is yet, would be through ethnographies of transliteracy. There is a small but active field involved in the "ethnography of literacy". Looking at the future of the ethnography of literacy, Brian Street writes that "The task of ethnographies of literacy in the next phase, is to provide rich and complex accounts of multimodality
in the context of such local/global dimensions" ("Futures" p359). I think that research into transliteracy would take the concerns of local vs global literacies into the field of web 2.0/digital literacies with all that that entails.


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