In this interview, danah boyd talks about the issues that prompted her to present her ethnographic findings to the tech community at SXSW. During her research, boyd discovered a disconnect between the way sites and apps were being created and the way they were being used. She says there is a disconnect between knowing data can be gathered from users and understanding how to interpret it. boyd also discusses her background and her plans to launch the Data & Society Research Institute. While this interview is a few years old, the issues boyd talks about are more important now than ever. She also reveals a surprise research tool.
This digital ethnography explores whether a social network on the dark web can overcomeㅡor avoidㅡthe constraints and affordances of traditional social networks. Gehl’s hypothesis is that power and freedom will be the same no matter where the site is; but hat the Dark Web Social Network (DWSN) is affected by both what we know about traditional networks and by public perception of the dark web. In this essay, Gehl describes the unusual technological challenges in exploring the dark web, the ethical challenges it presented, and the ways in which he protected the anonymity of his research subjects. Gehl’s research shows that being willing to stretch your knowledge of technology–and letting go of preconceived ideas–can lead you to areas of the web that are not possible for the average user.
Gehl, R. W. (2014). Power/Freedom On The Dark Web: A Digital Ethnography Of The Dark Web Social Network. New Media & Society, 1-17. doi:10.1177/1461444814554900
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.
In this book, author Christine Hine describes the ways the internet has become a part of human life: instead of being a technological phenomenon, it’s simply a tool that makes it possible to work, socialize, and navigate the world. Hine further lays out the challenges ethnographers face in studying online communities and in using digital tools. The book includes strategies for collecting data and participating in online communities and contains case studies from Hine’s own research. While not the easiest book to read, it is the text that many other books and articles cite. Hine is considered one of the preeminent digital ethnographers of her generation.
Hine, C. (2015). Ethnography for the Internet: Embedded, embodied and everyday. London: Bloomsbury.
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.