We were warned this week’s readings were dry. However, I find learning about research methods can be more interesting than the research itself – especially when researching a field as rapidly and randomly evolving as the internet.
Another student mentioned Neil Degrasse Tyson, in the context of Reddit and its culture. This week’s readings brought Tyson to my mind for a different reason: the concept in Baym and Markham that, despite how special we perceive ourselves, monumental change has happened and will continue to happen. Though it is impossible to stay “on top” of such constant discoveries, this should not stop humans from doing research, which they should do in the most “grounded” way possible. Tyson’s show Cosmos recently touched similarly on how humans are not special, but instead a product of chaotic reactions, which echo the chaotic, unpredictable directions communication on the internet has taken over the past decades. Despite the possible perceived futility of finding meaning in such chaos, people should and do attempt to make sense of it.
Speaking more specifically about SecondLife: the idea that some places in the SL universe might not be good candidates for ethnographies because earlier Rutgers classes have “worn them out” could speak both to the SL location’s strong sense of identity, and the need to be very careful with self-presentation at ethnographies. In other words, while I have fumbled my way through completing tasks in SL as required for class, actually trying to conduct ethnography effectively will require a more detailed understanding of the site I choose, its culture, and norms.