Adolfo Estalella‘s recently completed PhD dissertation gave rise to a series of interactions that were ethically laden. Similarly, my recent fieldwork in a women’s studies group in a university in the Netherlands meant rethinking some of my assumptions about the proper way of going, being and leaving the field. Thinking through these issues together, we realised that some of the difficulties and our attempts at working through them could also be important for other scholars. On the basis of these experiences and of our discussions about them, we wrote an article called Rethinking Research Ethics for Mediated Settings. It will be published in a special issue of Information, Communication and Society, edited by Annamaria Carusi.
We adress questions like: What does it mean to anonymise digital and networked data? Who has the power to do this? What are we really trying to achieve through anonymisation? And what kind of accountability can we formulate and enact when working in mediated settings?
In considering these questions, we also characterize mediated settings in terms of contiguity and traceability–two features that that challenge many of our traditional assumptions about what it means to go into the field, ethically.