We were given the choice between two different articles to read for Researching the Digital, I decided to look at John Postill & Sarah Pink’s “Social Media Ethnography: The Digital Researcher in a Messy Web”. On first glance at this article, I had the assumption that it would be a boring read and that I would not understand anything they are saying. However, this was not the case, as i read on i began to enjoy the article more and, as a social media user, found myself more intrigued with what was said.
One of the key things discussed in the reading is using social media as a research site. This included the two main methods which allow data to be collected, these are:
“web content analysis of large data sets drawn from microblogging and other social media sites (Agichtein et al., 2008; Honeycutt and Herring, 2009; Kwak et al., 2010; Oulasvirta et al., 2010) and social network analysis (Gilbert and Karahalios, 2009; Java et al., 2007; Prieur et al., 2009)”.
Postill and Pink also gave context to this statement and related it to their own findings concerning activism in Barcelona (2012: 3) which gave an insight on social media ethnography.
Another section that I found really interesting, and relatable to myself personally, was the part on Online Communities” and them being “not simply ‘virtual’ but, in many cases, those who participate in them meet face-to-face too (Kozinets, 2010: 15)”. I would like to think I am a part of a few online communities with people who share common interests (typically surrounding bands/musicians/youtubers), it is a community I am proud to be a part of and meeting people from them face-to-face is my favourite thing to do.
When reading, I first found the 5 main practices of a social media ethnographer confusing; although they are pretty self explanatory. I understand what the five things are (Catching Up; Sharing; Exploring; Interacting; Archiving), however I feel like the text did not explain each thing separately; almost as though a few were merged into one explanation. Because of this, I had to re-read that section a couple of times before making sense of what Postill and Pink were saying.
UPDATE (27/Feb/2017; After Lecture)
The lecture extremely informative and useful, it allowed to me expand on my learning and notes on researching the digital. It was able to help me gather a clearer understanding of the “Messy Digital” (in reference to it being in the title of the Postill and Pink article) as well as be introduced to more, new ways of digital ethnography such as video and visual diaries and briefly covering Autoethnography. This theme widely interested me as I have a large interest for social media studies along with being active among many social media platforms.
The group work for this week seems simple to follow after the lecture, and we are able to successfully analyse the data of how people on our course, including ourselves, use social media to communicate with their peers.
Postill, J. and S. Pink (2012) Social Media Ethnography: The Digital Researcher in a Messy Web.
Media International Australia.