Network( -ed / -ing)

Though there is no novelty in thinking of cultural complexity, this week’s readings has underscored its awe through discussions around the formation of research methods on the Internet. The same metaphor kept popping up for me, and even explicitly stated a number of times: that of the network. 

Through Hine’s ethnographic analysis (as studying phenomena requires a point of origin and a definition of perimeter) to Orgad’s online/offline discussion (to which these difference data should “mutually contextualize themselves” [pg 48]), the readings presented phenomenons as a blurred interconnected array of factors that any research method must be conscious of. 

I am a little intrigued about the network metaphor doubling in both the Internet’s architecture and this theoretical understanding of the world (I doubt if its done tounge-in-cheek, though I don’t think it’s completely haphazard). Regardless, the metaphor serves as a valuable insight to both the Internet and ethnography broadly. I was reminded of a recent lecture (image below) about the increasing intention of web design to tap into this network idea, where offline/online behaviours are so connected it becomes blurred (think Foursquare, NikeRun, and continuing experiments of networked objects and cities). While canonical methods approach the Internet as an artifact, web designers are attempting to evolve the Internet as culture; in the meantime, researchers, like us, are attemping to adapt to both.

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