Tagged ethnography

Data scraping morning


This image is an initial text visualization of the posts in the MOOC I am studying. I have just spent the morning data scraping, copying text from the posts and pasting them into a spreadsheet. There are still a handful more of posts I have not yet copied, and it’s a tedious process, but it did give me a feel for the discussions in the specific forum area.

Generated with textisbeautiful.net, the visualisation shows words that appear frequently together. They are grouped by color. I would like to explore the changing communication patterns so I will probably compare a few visualisations based on date. The web site also has two other options for displaying the visualisation, so I will need to go back to the readings to figure out an analytical frame for the data.

Below is a tentative cover page for the artefact.


Self-disclosure in an online community

  • What do people choose to disclose and not disclose in an online community?
  • What are the factors that influence self-disclosure in an online community?
  • How do these factors affect the sense of community?

These are some of the question I hope to explore as part of the ethnography assignment for Block 2. I will be looking an edX MOOC on transforming businesses. One of my initial impressions is that the course, because of its topic, necessarily requires a lot of self-reflection in order to define participant’s personal vision of change and leadership. However, what interests me is not the reflections themselves, but the disclosure and sharing of those personal feelings, and how that sharing is part of the community’s ethos.

According to Kozinet (2010), participation in a community is defined by the personal significance that participants attach to the activities of the community and the relationships that they build within it. My goal for the ethnography is to try to unravel these two factors, activities and relationships, in order to understand how this particular online community sustains itself.

Production notes
I will most likely incorporate word clouds as a primary element of the digital artefact. The word cloud will hopefully give a sense of the kinds of discussions that take place in the community, while allowing anonymity. Reading the discussion boards, I was struck by the emotional intensity reported by some participants. That intensity is probably be best captured as quotes, but I am wary of taking those remarks that were raised in an enclosed space and putting them in a public space. I’m still figuring out if there are alternative way of balancing representation and anonymity.

Kozinets, R. V. (2010) Chapter 2 ‘Understanding Culture Online’, Netnography: doing ethnographic research online. London: Sage. pp. 21-40.