Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case explains how humans are already cyborgs—that by virtue of using computers and mobile devices, we have external brains. Case argues that all tool use is a modification of self, designed to help humans do things better. However, Case points out that we are now experiencing not modification of physical self, but of mental self. She also points out that we now have “second selfs” that exist online and can be interacted with, even when we are not present. This TED Talk is thought provoking in that it reminds the viewer that time away from technology is an important part of being able to use the tools now available to present an authentic digital self.
[TED]. (2011, January 11). Amber Case: we are all cyborgs now. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z1KJAXM3xYA
Rybas and Gajjala explore online identity on social networks, including ways of identifying one’s race, gender, and sexuality in the creating of online personas; however the author’s primarily focus on comparing and contrasting the experiences of online ethnographers compared to “traditional” ethnographers. This paper is interesting because it posits that digital ethnographers always consume and create artifacts during research: typing oneself into existence.
Rybas, N., & Gajjala, R. (2007). Developing Cyberethnographic Research Methods for Understanding Digitally Mediated Identities. Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 8(3), Art. 5, http://www.qualitative-research.net/index.php/fqs/article/view/282/619
Cyborg anthropologist Amber Case has published this dictionary of terms she finds integral to those working in the emerging field of digital ethnography. Readers will find a range of definitions, but also the wealth of resources Case used to compile the list. While playfully illustrated, the dictionary is a good starting point for anyone interested in digital ethnography: researchers, scholars, designers, and more.
Case, A. (2015). An Illustrated Dictionary of Cyborg Anthropology. Portland: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Anthropoligist Bonnie Nardi gives readers a firsthand account of World of Warcraft in this book. Nardi spent three years participating in and studying the massively multiplayer online role-playing game: learning gameplay, leveling her character, joining guilds, and advancing through the game in tandem with other players. Nardi also conducted a number of in-person and online interviews, including including a month spent in China studying players who access WoW in internet cafes. This book is an engaging look at gaming culture that addresses gender and addiction, while also debunking the myth of the stereotypical gamer.
Nardi, B. (2010). My Life as a Night Elf Priest: An Anthropological Account of World of Warcraft. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
Ethnographer danah boyd has ideas for parents and other adults to help teens navigate social media in this video. boyd describes the ways interactions can happen in public without being public and how teens accept that public is default and private is something that must be chosen. She also addresses social etiquette and ways teens try to separate online social situations. Parents and adults who work with kids can learn a lot from boyd, especially if they’ve experienced conflict over “public” posts that teens don’t want parents to see.
[National Association of Independent Schools (NAIS)]. (2013, March 19). danah boyd at the 2013 NAIS Annual Conference. [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_YOR69TBxBA