Participation in ...
Observation of ...
What is the Chicago School?
In sociology and later criminology, the Chicago School (sometimes described as the Ecological School) was the first major body of works emerging during the 1920s and 1930s specialising in urban sociology, and the research into the urban environment by combining theory and ethnographic fieldwork in Chicago, now applied elsewhere. While involving scholars at several Chicago area universities, the term is often used interchangeably to refer to the University of Chicago's sociology department—one of the oldest and one of the most prestigious. (Wikipedia)
Requires a chapter, even a book on it. Possibly a block, even a module in its own right.
Does the ethnography depend upon the physical presence of the enthnographer in the midst of the people being studied? (Hammersley, 2006 :08)
Not any more. An ethnographer in a virtual world amongst virtual people is present. Is, however, an ethnographer present where they to observe footage from Big Brother, either in real time, or post-production (literally). Are we ‘kitchen ethnogrpahers’ when we watch a TV series about a group ‘under observation’?
‘With the availability of mobile phones and portable computers, electronic virtuality is now embedded within actuality in a more dispersed and active way than ever before’. (Hammersley, 2006:08)
Is interviewing ethnographic? (Hammersley, 2006:09) How else do you ‘give voice’ to the participants and capture their perspectives?
Witness accounts are flawed.
A witness might lie, but will certainly have a stance, however nuanced, they may even have a false memory. Indeed, over time, the nature of this memory will change other ideas, true or false recollections aggregate to it. And is impacted by the context. (Hammersley, 2006:09)
Rather to record conversations … but who is to set the guidelines? (Hammersley, 2006:10)It can be argued that everything we do or perceive is real. Whether in a virtual world, or dreaming ... or 'the real thing'.
The experience has a form in that an electro-biological process has taken place in all these cases - it's in your head! Science Fiction writers and filmmakers play around with this all the time. My understanding from neuroscience is that typically any memory, or rethinking of a memory or experience, connects with some 15 areas around the brain ... which change (enhance, diminish). The scale and scope amongst our 98 billion neurons is ... well, vast. So much of what we do or experience can and will have only a tiny impact on who we are (genetically decided construction of the brain during foetal development) and what we experience (whether this experience is internal or external). Does the brain even differentiate between conscious and unconsciousness, beyond tagging them one or the other so that, however vivid it was, you know that was a dream where you turned into a flying fish ... or that running around like Conan the Barbarian with the head of a wolf in World of War Craft is not the same as sitting in a Geography class. Neuroscience is trying to see and map fractions of activity in the brain, but this is a long way from offering such human-coloured maps as evidence, say of specific learning having occurred, so short of an objective result we can only rely on the subjective i.e. to ask a lot of probing questions and draw conclusions.
In relation to a face-to-face as virtual, surely there is more in common with a Skype interview 'face to face' and a similar interview over a table ... but there are degrees of virtual and 'real' as an interview when in role play or improvising say as a character in World of Warcraft would surely be more akin to the an exercise that actors do. Or what about role playing real people in order to prepare for a debriefing, or tough interview ... as in media training for managers?
Fascinating ... my curiosity has been re-engaged even if professionally strictly quantitative plays so well into funding mechanisms. You design learning that can be quantified, using appropriately accommodating learning theories, so that investors can monitor their return.
People in virtual worlds are themselves - but more so.
i.e. in various forms people might either be themselves big time, almost hyping up who they are while others would take a part of themselves and enhance that ... so they roleplay the minor god (in the Greek sense), or swap gender, or role play being a teenager again ... or for that matter being older than they are. i.e. the original person is still at the core of it all.