“Ethnographic Blogging”

The latest issue of Cultural Science—an open-access, peer reviewed journal—is devoted to Internet Research Methods as Moments of Evolution. I had an article published in this issue, titled “Ethnographic Blogging: Reflections on a Methodological Experiment.” It is, as you can probably guess from the title, about how this Geek Studies blog was unexpectedly instrumental in conducting research for my dissertation on geek cultures.

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The Joys of Disruptive Technologies

I wanted to share a quick link from the Chronicle of Higher Education about a professor who encourages students to use Twitter during class (found via Twitter, of course—thanks @zandperl!). The course, originally taught for grad students, is called “Disruptive Technologies in Teaching and Learning,” and features a live Twitter feed projected in the background so students can offer outside links and shyly-yet-publicly consider comments that may derail the discussion.

I think it sounds neat—and, much to my surprise, so do most of those offering comments on Chronicle, it seems. A former student of the class also chimed in to offer some positive reflections and a link to her course blog, which links to other students’ blogs. That should give a sense of the conversations that these technologies encouraged.

In unrelated news, I have about a dozen drafts for new posts that I am dying to complete and post, but they’re going to have to remain drafts until I push through some of my real (i.e., deadline-bound) work. Blogging is my own personal “disruptive technology,” I suppose (but usually in a good way). I expect to be posting a lot come August, the month I defend.

Citation Stylings

My dissertation occasionally presents me with some odd dilemmas resulting in strange turns of phrase. This is largely an artifact of working with an in-text citation style (APA), which blends a somewhat scientistic air with sometimes quite … let’s say, colorful names and language. No matter how many times I read this sentence, for instance, it looks strange to me, though there’s nothing objectively wrong with it:

Sexist, racist, and homophobic sentiments may be amplified by the somewhat anonymous and depersonalized format of internet venues – an “online disinhibition effect” (Suler, 2004) in psychological terms, though well known to geeks under such terms as “the Greater Internet Fuckwad Theory” (Kruhulik & Holkins, 2004).

The phrase is indeed well known, and I offer an endnote to expound upon that a bit. But it still looks like a weird sentence. (And yes, the lowercase “I” in “internet” is intentional.)

My dilemma today is how to cite an article by Iroquois Pliskin. Citing people by handle/screen name is usually no big deal for me. Because I’m quoting heavily from comments on blogs and publicly viewable forums, I already have plenty of citations like “(CmdrTaco, 2007).” This gets trickier when citing someone using a screen name that takes the form of a pen name. If I’m to treat this like a screen name, I’d cite it as “(Iroquois Pliskin, 2009).” On the other hand, this has a first and last name, so should it be “(Pliskin, 2009)”? “Mark Twain” was just a pen name for Samuel Clemens, but I think you’d still cite him as “(Twain, 1876).” And I haven’t even addressed how I decided to cite the Penny Arcade strip noted in the quote above as “(Krahulik and Holkins, 2004)” rather than “(Gabe and Tycho, 2004)”; citing when you have a screen name and a real name associated with a work presents its own challenges as well.

I’m not going to let something so silly hold me up right now, so I’m just going with citing as a screen name for consistency with the other online sources I’m using in cases when no real name is given on the work itself. Perhaps I’ll revise after defending if need be.

Reconsidering “Digital Natives”

Things have been quiet (okay, completely silent) around Geek Studies lately, as I’ve recently moved from Philly to Boston, started teaching a graphic design class, and focused more closely on work that takes me away from the blog. And things will likely remain quiet until I defend my dissertation—but every now and then, something will occur to me that will make me need to speak up again.

What’s got me blogging now is a funny coincidence: Just as I was commenting to my friend and fellow Annenberger Moira about the concept of “digital natives” needing some revamping (if not outright rejecting), she pointed me to “Generational Myth,” an article in the most recent Chronicle of Higher Ed by Siva Vaidhyanathan. (Link updated to direct to the free version—thanks, Siva!) The long and the short of the article is precisely what I have been observing in my own class: The generation of “digital natives” might not be so native to the digital as many presume, and is certainly not so homogeneous as to be able to be described by a single way of thinking across the board.

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When Griefing Wanders into Meatspace

I always find it fascinating when political phenomena born in the geekiest corners of the internet somehow find their way into the physical world. I’ve been planning on doing a long post about this for awhile, but I never seem to get around to it. Rather than keep this post floating around in my “Drafts” queue until I finish my dissertation, I figure I might as well just share things as I find them. Here are a couple links I’ve been turning over in the back of my mind for quite some time now.

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Nerd Girls, Sex Appeal, and Stereotypes

I’ve just returned from several weeks of traveling—ICA in Montreal, a couple weeks in Boston, and a week in Madrid, where I gave a talk on my gaming research—and found a flurry of emails from folks who quite rightly knew I’d be interested in reading about Nerd Girls. (Thanks CTW, Church, Dan, Paul, Tony, and anyone I missed!) The latest issue of Newsweek has an article about this group of female engineers at Tufts, focusing on their attempt to revise the nerd image to have some room for femininity. I’m not sure how much of the group’s mission is concerned with promoting nerds as sexually attractive—it seems like the kind of thing that might get mentioned in passing and then blown out of proportion by a journalist—but it’s clearly the major concern of those commenting and blogging on the article.

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Reflecting on ICA 2008

I just got back from Montreal, where I was attending the International Communication Association 2008 conference. Due to cost and scheduling issues, I wasn’t able stay for as long as I might have liked, but even in the couple days I was there, I got to see some thought-provoking presentations and meet some interesting people. Here are a few things I wanted to make note of before I forget. Find out more information about these panels in the ICA conference program (PDF link).

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Links: A Few Notes During a Moment of Quiet

Things have been busy with non-web writing lately, and are about to get busier, so updates may be sparse (or, I suppose, absent) around here for at least another week or so. Tomorrow I’m headed to Montreal shortly for the International Communication Association 2008 conference, presenting a paper on experimental comics and the concept of visual language. In the meantime, here’s a few links I’m not sure what to do with, but which seemed interesting enough to post.

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Web Geeks (and Geek Studies) in the News

I recently had a nice conversation with Carolyn Johnson for a Boston Globe piece on ROFLCon and internet fame, “Web celebs consider their role: Internet ‘geeks’ gain niche in mainstream culture.” (Thanks again to Dan for sending along the link. As before, he remains my source for articles that quote me.)

The focus in this piece is on how the internet has enabled culture to develop in niches, where people can feel comfortable about reveling in the things they might have otherwise hidden. As one interviewee notes, “Until I launched my company in January, I always kept this part of my life—Internet, humor, in the closet. […] I had no real purpose except to meet kindred spirits.”

It’s more for non-geek audiences, so there won’t be many surprises here for most of you readers. I will say, though, that I found it more respectful than many other newspaper convention pieces (which have a nasty habit of sounding patronizing about the attendees).

Also consider checking out The Weekly Dig‘s ROFLCon-themed issue, available for download online, complete with headlines written in LOLcat/AOL-speak. If nothing else, you may find it kind of funny to see articles that ostensibly have nothing to do with geek culture get so thoroughly web-ified.

Reflecting on PCA/ACA 2008

Last week blogging was a little light as I attended the Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association 2008 conference (PDF schedule here). The word “geek” came up way more than I expected, considering that I was presenting on my games research and wasn’t even bringing up geeks there myself.

I thought I’d share some thoughts on a few of the panels and presentations I saw, including the panel I chaired in the Digital Games division. It’s not representative of everything I saw, and sadly, I had to miss several things I wanted to catch, but that’s the way things are at a big conference with lots of interesting stuff going on.

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