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The best of both (virtual) worlds: using ethnography and computational tools to study online behavior

 

In recent years, many ethnographers have conducted participant observation studies in virtual worlds (VWs), whether in games like World of Warcraft or user-generated environments like Second Life. While VWs offer unique affordances to ethnographers, such as instantaneous transcription by logging text chats, oftentimes these affordances can also become unexpected obstacles. In this paper, we will highlight several interesting opportunities and challenges in conducting ethnography in VWs such as those mentioned above. Moreover, we will then argue that the common problems shared by quantitative and qualitative social scientists in VW research serve to bridge the methodological divide.

 
citation

Ducheneaut, N.; Yee, N.; Bellotti, V. The best of both (virtual) worlds: using ethnography and computational tools to study online behavior. Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference (EPIC); 2010 August 29 - September 1; Tokyo, Japan.