(no subject)

I've spent the past few days writing up a survey about IM conversation behavior for my sociolinguistics class. If you have a few minutes, I'd really appreciate it if you took it. It's for a good cause (my GPA) and it's fun. Seriously, I have testimonials! Here is the link: https://websurveyor.net/wsb.dll/82755/SocioSurvey.htm

When you finish, please forward this link on to anyone you know who uses IMs - friends, family, students, teachers, bosses, minions, coworkers, ex-boyfriends (or girlfriends), etc.

Thanks for any effort you might give this (even reading this post. That is the first step to survey victory!). I really appreciate it.

Cross-posted around.

Why we blog

Reposted from Dialogic

I would like to extend an invitation to bloggers to join in on a collective blogging section of our upcoming winter issue of Reconstruction. The issue is the “Theories/Practices of Blogging.” In addition to the special section of posts on blogging there will be about a dozen essays on blogging.

The deadline is October 27th.

Our intent in this section of the issue will be to collect a wide range of bloggers and link up to their statements in regards to why they blog (something many of us are asked) and any statement they have on the theories/practices of blogging.

If you already have a post on this you can feel free to use it, or, if you are interested, you can submit a new one.

We will link to each statement from the issue at our site, with the intent of creating a hyperlinked list of statements on blogging that can serve as an introduction to blogging (or an expansion of knowledge for those already blogging).

If you are interested please contact me at mdbento @ gmail.com

x-posted like mad

Theoretical perspectives on blogs

Hello, I hope this community hasn't become defunct.  Anyway, I'd just like to solicit suggestions and discussion of  ways to examine blogs theoretically.   Right now, I have three different perspectives:

1.  Blogs as impression management.  This comes from Erving Goffman's work.  I especially like his discussion of the personal front and how ego tries to control the impressions of observers in an infinite cycle of revelation and discovery.

2.  Blogs as performance.  This I get from Judith Butler mostly, and it's rather intuitive if you think about it.  Still, despite some background in feminist theory I'm rather weak in this area and would like some help.

3.  Blogs as speech genre.  This comes from Mikhail Bakhtin by way of Alireza Doostdar, who wrote a very interesting analysis of Persian weblogestan (a neologism for blogosphere) in the Dec 2004 issue of American Anthropologist.

x-posted to blog_sociology and lj_research

Virtual Ethnographer’s Toolkit: a software fantasy

As researchers of cyberspace, virtual ethnographers approach social software with different needs than the typical user. While the typical user may only seek out conversational technologies for communicative purposes, the virtual ethnographer tends to ask questions about the patterns of online communication. Like in traditional ethnography, there is no substitute for “being there” doing participant observation. After all, virtual ethnography “is not so much a method in itself, but is often a way of applying in a new context…various [other] methods” (Bird & Baber 2003: 130). But unlike traditional ethnography, the raw data already exists in digital format, and should be easier to analyze with the proper software. However, as someone just beginning my dissertation research which will include a virtual ethnography component, I have found myself wishing on more than one occasion that I had software capable of automating certain tasks. With this in mind, I want to use this entry to imagine a software package, which I will call “The Virtual Ethnographer’s Toolkit” (VET for short) that would be able to perform the tasks that existing programs do not seem able to do. (If anyone either knows of existing software packages that can perform these tasks or is interested in creating such a program, I invite you to respond to this entry.)
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CMA Conference Papers Archive

The 104th annual meeting of the American Anthropological Association happened a few weeks ago. They put up a meeting page (American Anthropological Association 2005) which, frankly, looks like a brochure for tourists. One anthropologist blogger remarked: "Unfortunately....none of the conference papers are available online for public viewing" (Friedman 2005). You cannot even get paper titles and abstracts online, unlike other academic organizations (e.g. International Studies Association 2005). I am reminded of something David Hakken wrote: "the AAA remains only slightly ahead of my neighborhood muffler shop in terms of its creative use of cyber-media" (2003:194).

This is why I decided to go through the AAA program book, and e-mail everyone whose paper title sounds CMA-related to ask permission to host their paper on my site. You can see the archive here:


I hope to include other conferences in the future. If anyone reading this has a paper they would like on the page, let me know.


American Anthropological Association
2005 2005 Annual Meeting Photo Gallery. Electronic document, http://www.aaanet.org/annual_meeting/2005/gallery.htm, accessed December 13, 2005.

Friedman, Kerim
2005 What happens at the AAA, stays at the AAA. Electronic document, http://savageminds.org/2005/12/05/what-happens-at-the-aaa-stays-at-the-aaa/, accessed December 13, 2005.

Hakken, David
2003 An Ethics for an Anthropology in and of Cyberspace. in Ethics and the Profession of Anthropology: Dialogue for an Ethically Conscious Practice. Flueher-Lobban, Carolyn, ed. Pp. 179-195. Alta Mira: Walnut Creek.

International Studies Association
2005 ISA CONFERENCE PAPER ARCHIVE. Electronic document, http://www.isanet.org/archive.html, accessed December 13, 2005.

Anthropological Ethics and Spyware

Anthropologists have an ethical obligation to those they study, which includes protecting their fieldnotes (American Anthropological Association 2000; LeCompte and Schensul 1999a: 190). When it comes to storing data, LeCompte and Schensul recommend that data be stored in safe places to prevent theft (1999b: 39-40). It is for this reason that Schensul et al. (1999) advise against "using computers in the field.... Portable computers and the fieldnotes stored in them are easily lost or removed with consequent loss of data and threats to confidentiality" (p. 116).

These are valid points, but they do no take the Internet into account. Spyware, defined as "software that tracks what we type, where we visit and what we do on our computers", has infected an estimated 67%-90% of PCs (Kidman 2005). If we are keeping fieldnotes on our computers, it would seem that we have an ethical obligation to make sure our computers are not among them. Unfortunately, no software is 100% effective at removing spyware (Adware Report 2005), but some are more effective than others. If effective software could conceivably prevent informant confidentiality from being compromised, then perhaps this should be included in our discussions of research ethics rather than just seen as a personal choice.

References Cited

Adware Report
2005 August Spyware Effectiveness Test Results. Electronic document: http://www.adwarereport.com/mt/archives/000049.html, accessed October 7, 2005.

American Anthropological Association
2000 AAA Statements on Ethics - Principles of Professional Responsibility. Electronic document: http://www.aaanet.org/stmts/ethstmnt.htm, accessed October 7, 2005.

Kidman, Angus
2005 Who's watching you? The Australian, SEPTEMBER 20. Electronic document: http://australianit.news.com.au/articles/0,7204,16651078%5E15382%5E%5Enbv%5E,00.html, accessed October 7, 2005.

LeCompte, Margaret D., and Jean J. Schensul
1999a Designing & Conducting Ethnographic Research. Edited by M. D. LeCompte and J. J. Schensul. 7 vols. Vol. 1, Ethnographer's Toolkit. Walnut Creek & Lanham & New York & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
1999b Analyzing & Interpreting Ethnographic Data. Edited by M. D. LeCompte and J. J. Schensul. 7 vols. Vol. 5, Ethnographer's Toolkit. Walnut Creek & Lanham & New York & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.

Schensul, Stephen L., Jean J. Schensul, and Margaret LeCompte
1999 Essential Ethnographic Methods: Observations, Interviews, and Questionnaires. Edited by M. D. LeCompte and J. J. Schensul. 7 vols. Vol. 2, Ethnographer's Toolkit. Walnut Creek & Lanham & New York & Oxford: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.