Going into the field, ethically…

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.

What difference does a website make?

A website that presents the collection through gorgeous visuals is now considered a must for any self-respecting museum.  Photographs of objects, of exhibitions and of the museum itself are increasingly common interfaces, linking museums, visitors, experts, collections.

How are users engaged by these interfaces? Which skills and strategies are needed for this engagement? What are the consequences of visually mediated interfaces for users of digital knowledge in/about/from museums, archives, and other collections? These developments are discussed in terms of their consequences for how museums view their role, in a recent article written with Sarah de Rijcke, Image as Interface: consequences for users of museum knowledge. It appears in a special issue of the journal Library Trends on ‘Involving Users in the Co-Construction of Digital Knowledge in Libraries, Archives, and Museums.’

How we use mailing lists for fieldwork

A pleasant and productive collaboration with Mette Høybye led to the following chapter, which just appeared in the The Handbook of Emergent Technologies in Social Research, edited by Sharlene Hessse-Biber, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

We wrote about Studying Mailing Lists: text, temporality, interaction and materiality at the intersection of email and the web.

Social Technology

A new publication setting out the concept of social technology–and whybook cover we need it– has appeared in the Handbook of Philosophy of the Social Sciences. In this chapter entitled Social Technology, the concept is refined and illustrated through the analysis of three ‘cases’: priming, surveys and focus groups, and social software.

A draft of the chapter was discussed at the workshop Social Technology, co-organised with Signe Vikkelsø (Copenhagen Business School). A special issue from this workshop is forthcoming in the journal Theory and Psychology.