Ethnographers have been increasingly challenged with finding new ways to study digitally-mediated human relations and experiences. This panel offers a robust discussion on a variety of perspectives, approaches and understandings involving ethnography in virtual, digital and multimedia environments.
Coming from a long tradition of a holistic research approach, ethnographers have been increasingly challenged with finding appropriate ways to study new forms of technologically-mediated human relations and experiences. In an age when identity performances, place-making, mobility and connectivity have expanded from physical to also include virtual space, researching almost any contemporary socio-cultural phenomenon is likely to involve elements of both conventional and digital ethnography, or 'on-site' and 'on-line' fieldwork. Understood as the process and methodology of doing ethnographic research in a digital space—'whereby the digital field site is sometimes comprised of text, video or images, and may contain social relations and behaviour patterns strewn across many nations, cities or intellectual geographies' (Cyborg Anthropology, 2011)—digital ethnography has become a new 'cool tool' and an approach yet to be fully conceptualised and embraced. Rather than proclaiming the end of ethnography as we have known it, and seeing digital ethnography as an alternative to or evolution of the conventional ethnographic approaches, contemporary ethnographers who have put up their virtual tents in the midst of cyber villages argue that its epistemological remit remains much the same and treat it foremost as a logical extension of the existing ethnographic traditions: from Malinowskian to multi-sited ethnography (Murthy 2008, Halilovich 2013; 2014). This panel offers a robust discussion on a variety of perspectives, approaches and understandings involving ethnography in virtual, digital and multimedia environments.