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
The researchers spent 24 hours taking a research “snapshot” of a Facebook group dedicated to the history of Melbourne, Australia. Seeking to explore social media-driven “amateur memory practices,” the researchers were able to determine that the group could be seen as an example of network sociality. In contrast to community, network sociality does not represent belonging to a group. In network sociality social relations are not based on mutual experience or common history, but primarily on an exchange of data. The researchers further hypothesize that the combined posts and interactions have created an anthropological place. The research done on Lost Melbourne is useful for evaluating other Facebook groups and perhaps other online spaces in which historical artifacts are shared.
Schutt, S., Berry, M., & Cianci, L. (2015). Lost Melbourne: A Digital Ethnography of a Facebook Local History Group. Global Ethnographic. Retrieved from http://oicd.net/ge/index.php/lost-melbourne-a-digital-ethnography-of-a-facebook-local-history-group/
This article examines the research involving an online community of English language teachers, known as Webheads in Action (WiA). This article provides an inside look not at the community, but at the ways the researchers examined and participated in the community. The article describes the ways the research team experienced netnography in opposition to traditional ethnography. It includes ways of defining the field, fieldnotes and data gathering, dynamics of interviewing, and the importance of having the expertise in multiple online technologies. This article is useful for any beginning netnographer who is looking for practical advice before beginning online research.
Kulavuz-Onal, D., & Vasquez, C. (2013). Reconceptualising fieldwork in a netnography of an online community of English language teachers. Ethnography and Education, 8(2), 224-238, http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/17457823.2013.792511
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
This video presentation features two students of Robert Kozinets. The students give an overview of netnography and describe how they used netnography to conduct market research for Listerine and also examine the class’s own Facebook group. Kozinets joins the students at the end of the video to take part in a question and answer session. The students provide valuable information to new researchers by describing their experiences from beginning to end. Having Kozinets weigh in is an added bonus.
[elpinchito]. (2012, February 18). Netnography: An Overview (Schulich MBA class, Social Media Marketing taught by Robert Kozinets). [Video file]. Retrieved from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UWApBu2ERTU