In the course of doing in depth research, where one becomes very profoundly embedded within a topic, we can find ourselves getting out of touch. In doing ethnographic research online this can happen quite acutely, and when you combine; the fieldwork online, with our modern proclivity to gravitate towards our ever more entertaining metal and plastic boxes, then it becomes harder and harder to step away from the computer.
I have just returned from an almost three week hiatus of using the computer other than as my television. Yes, I did check Facebook and my Gmail. That couldn’t be helped. It feels strange to come back to the computer and begin using all the tools and tricks of ethnographic information mining again. I open up my del.ici.ous and wonder at what my poorly tagged monstrous stream of bookmarks means to the algorithms that analyze it and get fed into the Google machine that predicts what I need every time I jump to the google box for a blissfully painless solution. Alas though goolge does not nearly suffice when hard, real (giggle here) research is on the line. No siree! Ethnographers must plunge down into the belly of the information beast and troll the dark crevices of the internet all mother’s intestines. Then you see when you look at the bibliographies and works cited pages of the ethnographic work to come. You will see the names of bloggers and comics, web artists and community builders. Its a bread crumb trail back through the internet maze of contacts that zipped through the mind of the ethnographer writing about the virtual world we all love to explore so much. So cheers to the ethnographer gone native! May you swim with the data and break bread with the internet all mother in your time!