One of my goals for you in this class is to learn how to closely observe and understand the complexities, multiple valences, and nuances of online communities. Thus, for your final project, you’ll compose a digital ethnography. You’ll select an online community, closely observe and interact with that community for several weeks, and write a 2,500-3,000-word (nine-to-twelve-page) report detailing what you find.
Because this methodology will be new to most people, we’ll move slowly and reflectively through the project, pausing for milestones at important points along the way.
Due by 5pm on Friday, January 23
MILESTONE ONE: IDENTIFY YOUR COMMUNITY
Describe a community to which you have access, identify the boundaries for the case, and describe the types of evidence you will be able to collect.
At this point, you’ll be organized into labs based on shared interests. For each of the following milestones, you’ll submit one copy to me (via CCLE) and one copy to each of your labmates (via email).
From this point on, you will compile field notes once a week: 300 to 500 words documenting what you’ve observed and indicating preliminary conclusions, questions, and ideas. Remember that your goal is to achieve “thick descriptions” of events: not just a record of what went down, but possible interpretations of what it might mean. You can submit them as Word documents to me, or you can maintain a blog for this. (I’d suggest locking it.) A Google doc is fine, too!
Due by 5pm on Friday, January 30
MILESTONE TWO: RESEARCH QUESTIONS
Identify the primary research question (or questions) that will motivate your work going forward.
Due by 5pm on Friday, February 13
MILESTONE THREE: PROJECT UPDATE
Describe what you’ve found so far, what you still need to know, and where you see the project headed.
Due by 5pm on Friday, February 27
MILESTONE FOUR: HYPOTHESES
Summarize the tentative answers to your research question.
Due by 5pm on Friday, March 6
MILESTONE FIVE: ROUGH DRAFT
Submit a rough draft of your ethnography.
Due by 5pm on Wednesday, March 18
MILESTONE SIX: FINAL PAPER DUE
Submit the final draft of your research paper.