Something to look forward to


13. Six ways of doing digital ethnography


researchTitleThis is the thirteenth instalment in the freedom technologists series. A revised version appears in Pink, S., H. Horst, J. Postill, L. Hjorth, T. Lewis and J. Tacchi. 2016. Digital Ethnography: Principles and Practices. London: Sage.

IN THE 2000s I studied an internet-mediated social world that remained fairly stable throughout the main period of fieldwork, namely the field of residential politics in a middle-class suburb of Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia (Postill 2011). However, digital ethnographers will sometimes find that the social worlds they are researching will experience dramatic changes over a short period of time. In some cases, they may even witness the birth of a new social world whilst still in the field.

This is precisely what happened to me during fieldwork among Internet activists in Barcelona, Catalonia (Spain). In May 2011, with little prior warning, the small Internet activism scene I had been researching for ten months was…

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Imagining Heritage: Selfies and Visual Placemaking at Historic Sites

interesting read!

Archaeology and Material Culture

A selfie at the Lincoln memorial (image Joe Flood). A selfie at the Lincoln memorial (image Joe Flood).

A variety of ideologues routinely reduce selfies to yet another confirmation of our mass superficiality.  Instagram is indeed littered with scores of us primping for our bathroom mirrors and posing at arm’s length for “ego shots”: it seems infeasible to salvage especially profound insight into contemporary society from Justin Bieber’s self-involved posing or Kim Kardashian’s often-ridiculous stream of booty calls.  Nevertheless, the countless online selfies register a self-consciousness about appearance that is likely common in every historical moment, and the recent flood of online selfies may simply confirm that we know we are being seen and we are cultivating our appearance for others.  After looking in the mirror for millennia, digitization has provided a novel mechanism to re-imagine, manipulate, and project a broad range of personal reflections into broader social space.

An image of the facebook page of camp selfies. An image of the facebook page of camp selfies.

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On being “black” in Australia and the U.S.

Culture Matters

Here in Sydney as well as in Egypt, people have often commented to me on the strangeness of the American logic of race. “Why do you call Barack Obama black? His mother was white. Why don’t you call him white?” I explain the cultural logic of the “one-drop rule” of attributing race in the United States, but often people just shake their head at the absurdity of it. I tell them that yes, it’s absurd, but it’s how our culture popularly imagines race. Everyone knows that Obama’s mother was white, and yet everyone “knows” that Obama is black.

I’ve read enough of the work of my colleagues who do work in Brazil, and I’ve lived in Venezuela (where the racial imaginary is closer to that of Brazil than to that of the U.S.), to have some familiarity with different cultural logics of “race.” When it comes to Australia, though, I…

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aims and objectives – what’s the difference?

A clear and concise explanation – it’s certainly helped me overcome hurdles in my proposal.


You’re ready, you’re aimed, and now you have to fire off the objectives. But you’re a bit confused. What”s the difference between the two?

An aims-objectives confusion might arise when you are writing thesis proposal and the introductory thesis chapter. It’s always an issue in research bids. The what’s-the-difference question can have you going around in ever smaller unproductive circles if you can’t figure out a way to differentiate between the two things. And the difference is something I’ve recently been asked about, so I’ve decided to post something of an answer.

Dictionaries are only vaguely helpful when thinking about aims and objectives. My desk dictionary says that an aim is to do with giving direction. An aim is “something intended or desired to be obtained by one’s efforts”. On the other hand an objective is to do with achieving an object, it’s about actions, “pertaining to that whose delineation…

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Step 1 of your Literature Review – Finding Stuff

The Art of Scientific Communication

There’s nothing more embarrassing that writing an entire report on a topic, then finding out that someone has already done it all.  Multiply that sentiment by a factor of about a thousand if you’re writing a Master’s thesis – start a new project from scratch if this happens during your PhD.  Whatever you’re writing or researching – the first step is always to conduct a thorough literature review.  For a Master’s thesis you might get away with knowing just some of the relevant literature – depending upon your university’s academic requirements – but for a PhD you have to find absolutely everything and that’s a huge job.  How do you tackle it?  Well, like everything else we’ve been talking about in this blog – I suggest you go about it methodically and that means having a plan. There are four key steps in the typical Literature Review: 1) finding stuff, 2) organizing…

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