I’ll be teaching a new course this coming spring term (2012) on digital ethnography (with a likely, but somewhat bland, title of Digital Ethnography). As a methods course preceding the establishment of a new media & culture graduate certificate, I’m thinking it iwill attend to at least two areas under the “digital ethnography” heading: doing ethnographic work using digital tools, and doing ethnographic work in the digital domain.
Barring a few reading options, this is as far as I’ve gotten in the planning. I am seeking comments and input from students (potential or otherwise) about what else the course might take on. So, please post comments here with suggested readings, methodological issues, tools you are curious about (or have used)—in short, anything that you’d love to see in a class of this sort. In that I’m imagining this class to be a collaborative experiment in general, having at least part of the syllabus co-authored/crowdsourced is fine first step in my mind. And I’ll certainly credit any/all contributions that I end up using!
- The Principles of Virtual Ethnography (virtualethnography.wordpress.com)
- The new buzzword in marketing: Ethnography (theglobeandmail.com)
On April 1 I was in Madison, WI for a workshop co-sponsored by the University of Wisconsin Folklore Program, the American Folklore Society, and the ARIS team at UW. ARIS stands for “augmented reality interactive storytelling,” and the project consists of an iPhone app (the client) and a web-based game editor within which someone would construct a “situated documentary” or place-based educational “game.” Run largely by ARIS team members, the workshop focused on getting folklorists to think about how to employ this platform (and related technologies) in cultural heritage/tourism contexts. We did plenty of hands-on work with the extremely-alpha editor (based on MIT open source code), but also spend time discussing best practices, limitations to application, and conceptual issues related to the whole effort. Since the games in ARIS are place-based, you can’t really play them unless you are physically in the places they reference, but the app is free and once they move into beta stages of development I imagine there will be wider access to the whole system.
Somewhat related, I received an announcement the other day about a series of webinars hosted by South Arts (regional arts non-profit that works with nine state arts agencies in the U.S. South). Geared largely toward folklorists and heritage workers, the series kicks off on April 13. Go here for a descriptive list of all of them, but below are selected highlights:
April 13, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET (1.5 hrs)
Folklife Emergency! 12 Steps to Readiness
All areas of the nation are subject to emergencies including natural disasters and human-caused events. However, our cultural resources-including people, buildings, and objects-are often at risk for severe damage or loss. Learn about 12 simple things that you can do right now to protect your folklife and cultural heritage assets.
May 5, 2011 2:00 p.m. ET (1.5 hrs)
Digital Tools for the Folk
Spotlight on digital trends and tools folklorists can use to advance their work. Participants will learn about an assortment of free and low-cost resources easy enough for the non-techie to use.
June 1, 2011 10:00 a.m. ET (1.5 hrs)
Online Exhibits: Get Your Fabulous Folklore Content to an Online Audience
As more and more organizations jump on the online exhibit bandwagon, competition for eyeballs gets tougher. In this webinar you’ll learn best practices to make your exhibit stand out from the rest.
All of the workshops have some sort of connection to media, management, documentation, and arts/culture work. Each costs $25.oo to register, and look well worth it.
I was recently at the 2nd annual Digital Media & Learning meetings, held this year in Long Beach, CA. Sponsored/organized again by Digital Media and Learning Research Hub @ University of California, this year’s meetings extended many of the themes, conversations, debates, and initiatives that emerged at last year’s event in La Jolla, CA. For extensive info on the 2011 meeting, go here; in this post, I’m just setting out to highlight and digest some of the fantastic things I encountered.
The Twitter backchannel was active again this year (#dml2011), and led me to a host of resources: websites, projects, conversations, people, and places. One of the coolest—and this should happen at every conference with parallel sessions—is a set of collaborative & public notes put up on Google Docs by conference attendees. Check it out for a wide range of perspectives and reports on the various sessions (plus, I’m certain it will continue to grow as people add to it…). You can also peruse the online archive of all the twittering/backchannel communication going on throughout the conference here (make sure the “view” limit is pretty high…it should already be set to “10,000,” though there weren’t that many tweets).
One of the more exciting sessions I attended was called the “Ignite Talks,” wherein each participant had under ten minutes to give a brief talk and generate some conversation/thinking. I heard some phenomenally engaging presentations on “grading” via “badges;” using YouTube in a middle school English class to explore representations of race, class, and place through “gangster” adaptations of Hamlet; work with Asperger’s syndrome youth in Second Life; and the ways that parents can/should encourage techon adept/adapted living in a balanced way. And that’s just a sampling of what presenters sprung during the first Ignite session!
I also attended two fantastic workshops. One was called “Thinking through Code: DIY data-mining and the politics of off-topic forums,” and focused on tools for ‘scraping’ data in an ethnographically-oriented manner when doing research with online communities. In lieu of a hand-out, the organizers created a “living” document gathering resources and tips; you can access it here.
Many more things stood out (or jumped out) during this conference, especially in the “science fair” exhibition space featuring winners of last year’s DML/HASTAC funding competition. Some examples (follow the links for more info than I could provide…):
Finally, kudos to AAD 2nd year grad students Alyssa Fisher and Arielle Sherman for winning two volunteer spots at the conference in a highly competitive environment (30 applications/8 volunteer positions = AAD win!)…
All around wonderful conference, and I’m already looking forward to next year’s in San Francisco!
Some things I’ve run across lately, stemming from either my recent trip to the Educause/ELI meetings in Washington D.C. or from people passing things along to me. Likely of interest to students in my Media Management Praxis course, but maybe not. No annotations, just links:
Visualizing tweets here
So I’m at the annual national meeting for the EDUCAUSE Learning Initiative (ELI) meeting with Doug Blandy this week. You can follow the meetings via Twitter with the hashtag: #eli2011. Here is a Twitter search widget running a loop of current tweets: