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Digital Anthropology

Digital Anthropology
Edited by Heather A. Horst and Daniel Miller

UNIVERSITY OF ROCHESTER OJ): BERG


London N cw York

English edition First published in 2012 by

Berg
Editorial ofllces: 50 Bedford Square, London WC 1B 3DP, UK 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010, USA lD Heather A. Horst& Daniel Miller2012 A 11 rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form or by any means without the written permission of Berg.

Contents

Notes on Contributors
PART I. INTRODUCTION
I. The Digital and the Human: A Prospectus for Digital Anthropology

\II

Berg is an imprint of Bloomsbury Publishing Plc.

Daniel Miller and !feather A. Horst


PART II. POSITIONING DIGITAL ANTHROPOLOGY
2. Rethinking Digital Anthropology

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data


A catalogue record for this book is available from the Library of Congress.

39

British Library Cataloguing-in-Publication Data

Tom Boe/lstorff
3. New Media Technologies in Everyday Life 61

A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library. ISBN 97X 0 X57X5 291 5 (Cloth) 97X 0 X57X5 290 8 (Paper) c-ISBN 97X 0 85785 292 2 (institutional) 97X 0 85785 293 9 (individual)

Heather A. Horst
4. Geomedia: The Rcassertion of Space within Digital Culture 80

Lane DeNicola
PART III. SOCIALIZING DIGITAL ANTHROPOLOGY

Typeset by Apex Co Vantage, LLC, Madison, WI, USA. Printed in the UK by the MPG Books Group

5.

Disability in the Digital Age

I0I

Faye Ginshurg

www.bergpublishers.com
6. Approaches to Personal Communication

127

Stefcma Broadhent
7. Social Networking Sites 146

Daniel Miller
PART IV. POLITICIZING DIGITAL ANTHROPOLOGY
8. Digital Politics and Political Engagement 165

John Postill

I'

vi Contents
9. Free Software and the Politics of Sharing Jelena Karunovi(I 0. Diverse Digital Worlds Bart Barendregt II. Digital Engagement: Voice and Participation in Development Jo Tauhi
185

203

Notes on Contributors
225

PART V. DESIGNING DIGITAL ANTHROPOLOGY


12. Design Anthropology: Working on, with and for Digital Technologies Adam Dra::in 13. Museum+ Digital='? lfaidy Geismar 14. Digital Gaming. Game Design and Its Precursors Thomas M. Malahy 245

266

288

Bart Barendregt is an anthropologist who lectures at the Institute of Social and Cultural Studies at Leidcn University in the Netherlands. He is coordinating a four-year research project (Articulation ofModernity) funded hy the Netherlands Organization for Scientific Research (NWO) that deals with popular music, modernity and social chance in South East Asia. As a senior researcher. he is also atllliated with an NWO project titled The Future is Elsewhere: Towards a Comparative History of Digital Futurities. which examines Islamic ideas ofthc information society. halal software and appropriation and localization of digital technology in an overt religious context. Barendrcgt has done extensive fieldwork in Java. Sumatra. Malaysia and the Philippines and has published on South East Asian performing arts. new and mohilc media and popular culture. Tom Bocllstorff is professor in the Department or Anthropology at the University of California. Irvine. From 2007 to 2012 he was editor-in-chief of American Anthropologist. the flagship journal of the American Anthropological Association. He is the author of many articles and hooks. including The Gm Archipelago: Sexualitv and Nation in Indonesia (Princeton University Press. 2005): .4 Coincidence of" Desires: Anthropology. Queer Studies. Indonesia (Duke Uniyersity Press. 2007): Coming of" Age in Second Li(e: An Anthropologist E.\plorc.\ the Virtuallr Human (Princeton University Press. 2008): and Etlmographr and Virtual ilcil'ld1: A Handhook ol Method, with Bonnie Nardi. Celia Pearce and T. L. Taylor (Princeton University Press, 20 12). Stefana Broadbent is currently a teaching fellow in digital anthropology at University College London. Since 1990 she has heen studying the C\Oiution or digital practices at home and in the workplace and has recently published a hook on the blurring of the boundaries between the two: /, 'lntimite mt Tramil (FYP Editions. 2011 ). Previously, she was research director and member of the Strategy Board of Swisscom, where she started the Observatory of Digital Life. The Ohseryatory studied longitudinally the evolution of digital acti\'ities in Swiss households. She has heen a lecturer in ethnography and design in the Faculty of Architcctun: at the Politecnico di Milano. and the Ecole Superieur des Art Dccoratifs in Paris. Lane DeNicola is a lecturer in digital anthropology at University College London. His research interests include culture and design: spatial information technology and
\'i i

Index

307

viii Notes on Contrihutors


geomcdia; the social and political dimensions of open design; space industrialization in the developing world; scientific visualization; immersive systems and gaming. Prior to his doctoral training in science and technology studies, he worked as a programmer and simulation designer at the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory and the Center for Space Research at MIT.

.Votes on Contrihutors ix Hanging Out, Messing Around and Gecking Out: !\ids Li1ing and !.earning Hirh New Media (MIT Press, 20 I 0). She is currently writing an ethnography focused on
digital media and family life in Silicon Valley. Her current research c~amincs communicative and monetary ecologies in the Caribbean and Pacific.

Adam Drazin is coordinator of the MA degree programme in culture, materials and design at the Department of Anthropology, University College London. lie lectured previously at Trinity College Dublin. Drazin works principally in the fields of material culture, design anthropology and the Romanian home. He has conducted design anthropology work with HP Labs, the Technical University of Eindhoven and Intel Ireland, mostly exploring material culture with a view to critical design approaches. Prior to lecturing at Trinity College Dublin, he ran his own sole-trader consultancy business. His current research interest is on the cultures of openness and homemaking for people who have moved from Romania to Ireland. Other interests include the material culture of intentionality, cultures of design and the more appropriate use of ethnography in innovation. l-Ie recently guest-edited a joint special edition of Anthropology in Action and the Irish Journal ofAnthropologv on Anthropology, Design and Technology in Ireland' and has published in Etlmos and /lome Cultures, among other places. Haidy Geismar is assistant professor of anthropology and museum studies at New York University. Her research focuses on issues surrounding value and materiality, using museums as a f11tcr. Her research interests arc intellectual and cultural property, the formation of digital o~jccts and most broadly the ways in which museums and markets influence and engender relations between persons and things. Since 2000 she has worked as a researcher and curator in Vanuatu and Aotearoa, New Zealand, England and the United Stales. Faye Ginsburg is founder and ongoing director of the Center lor Media, Culture and History at New York University, where she is also the David Kriser Professor of Anthropology, and codirector of the Center for Religion and Media and of the NYU Council for the Study of Disability. She is an award-winning editor/author of
four books, including Media World1: Anthropology on New Terrain and Mediating Culture: Indigenous Media in the Digital Age, which is still in press. She is currently carrying out research on cultural innovation and learning differences with Rayna Rapp.

Jelena Karanovic is adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Media. Culture and Communication at New York University. Trained in cultural anthropology, French studies and computer science, Karanovic pursues research on new media activism, information rights, media ethnography, media and globaliLation, France and Europe. Her book manuscript, in preparation, explores the c~pcriences and dilemmas of French free software advocates as they reinvent civic engagement around digital media. By drawing on twenty months of fieldwork conducted online and offline in 2004 and 2005, she analyses how prime vehicles of free-market globalization-intellectual property law and digital media technologies--have invigorated public debates about European integration and the transnational political economy. Her work brings anthropology into dialogue with media studies. science and technology studies and European studies. Her 20 I 0 article, 'Contentious Europeanization: The Paradox of Becoming European through Anti-Patent Activism'. appeared in fthnos:

Journal ofA nthropologv.


Thomas M. Malaby is professor and chair in the Department ofAnthropology at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and has published numerous'' orks on games. practice and indeterminacy. He is continually interested in the e\ er-e hanging relationships among institutions, unpredictability and technology -especially as they are realized through games and gamclikc processes. His most recent book . .\laking Virtual Worlds: Linden Lah and Second Uje (Cornell Uni\ crsity Press. 2009). is an ethnographic e~amination of Linden Lab and its relationship to its creation. Second Life. He is also a featured author at the blog Terra NO\ a. Daniel Miller is professor or material culture in the Department or Anthropology. University College London, where he recently established a programme in digital anthropology. Relevant publications include Tales jimn Facchook (Polity Press.

20\1 ), Migration and Nell' Media: Tronsnationalism and Polrmedia (\lith M. Madianou. Routledge, 20 II), The Cell Phone: An Anthmpologr o(ConJIIIJmicotion (with H. Horst, Berg, 2006) and The Internet: An Lrhnogra;Jhic Ap;woach (with Don Slater. Berg, 2000). Other recent books include Blue Jeans (with S. Wood11 a rd. University of California Press. 20 II) and Con.\lllllfilion and Its Comequencc.1 (Polity Press, 2012 ).
John Postill is an anthropologist (PhD University College London) who speciali;es in the study ofdigitalmedia. A senior lecturer in media at Shctlicld Hallam U ni\ crsity. he is the author of Locali::ing the Internet (20 II) and Media and :Vat ion Building

Heather A. Horst is a Vice Chancellor's Senior Research Fellow in the School of Media and Communication at RMIT University and the co-director of the Digital Ethnography Research Centre. She is the coauthor (with Daniel Miller) of The Cell Phone: An Anthropologl' o( Communication (Berg, 2006) and (with Ito el al.) of

x Notes on Contrihutors
(2006) and the co-editor of Theorising Media and Practice (20 I 0). lie has conducted fieldwork in Malaysia and Spain and is currently writing a book about digital media and the indignados movement. In addition, he is the founder and convener of the Media Anthropology Network. European Association of Social Anthropologists.

.Jo Tacchi is deputy dean of research and innovation in the School of Media and Communications at RMIT University. Research and its application in the area of communication for development have been a focus ofTacchi 's research since 1999. Her work in this area has been centrally concerned with issues around culture and social change. and in developing suitable methodologies (()r investigating this. Since 2002 she has led research and research teams spread across Australian universities and a range of national and international organizations, including the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Development Programme, Intel Corporation, international nongovernmental organizations and Australian government departments and agencies to develop and test innovative methodologies l(Jr monitoring and evaluation. for developing and researching approaches to participatory content creation and for research in communication, media and information and communication technology t(Jr development.

Part I Introduction

-1The Digital and the Human: A Prospectus for Digital Anthropology


Daniel Miller and Heather A. Horst

This introduction will propose six basic principles as the foundation for a nC\\ subdiscipline: digital anthropology. 1 While the principles will be used to integrate the chapters that follow, its larger purpose is to spread the widest possible cam as upon which to begin the creative work of new research and thinking. The intention is not simply to study and reflect on new developments but to usc these to further our understanding of what we are and have always been. The digital should and can be a highly ctlective means for reflecting upon what it means to be human. the ultimate task or anthropology as a discipline. While we cannot claim to be comprehensive, we will try to cover a good deal of ground, because we feel that to launch a book of this kind means taking responsibility for asking and answering some significant questions. For example. \\e need to be clear as to what we mean by words such as digital, culture and onthropologr and what we believe represents practices that arc new and unprecedented and what remains the same or merely slightly changed. We need to find a way to ensure that the vast generalizations required in such tasks do not obscure differences, distinctions and relativism, which we view as remaining amongst the most important contributions of an anthropological perspective to understanding human life and culture. We have responded partly through imposing a common structure to this volume. Each of the contributors was asked to provide a general survey of work in their field. followed by two more detailed (usually ethnographic) case studies. concluded by a discussion of potential new developments. In this introduction we use the findings of these individual contributions as the foundation for building six principles that we believe constitute the key questions and concerns of digital anthropology as a subdiscipline. The first principle is that the digital itself intensifies the dialectical nature of culture. The term digital\\ ill be defined as all that which can be ultimately reduced to binary code but \\ hich produces a further proliferation of particularity and ditlcrence. The dialectic refers to the relationship between this growth in universality and particularity and the intrinsic connections between their positive and negative effects. Our second principle suggests that humanity is not one iota more mediated by the rise of the digital. Rather. we suggest that digital

4 Digital Anthropologr
anthropology will rrogress to the degree that the digital enables us to understand and exposes the tramed nature of analogue or rrcdigital life as culture and t~lils when we fall victim to a broader and romanticized discourse that rrcsurroses a greater authenticity or reality to the rrcdigital. The commitment to holism, the I()Undation of anthrorological rcrsrectives on humanity, rerrcscnts a third rrinciple. Where some disciplines prioritize collectives, minds, individuals and other fragments of life, anthropologists focus upon life as lived and all the (mess of) relevant factors that comes with that. Anthropological arproachcs to ethnography I(Jcus upon the world constituted within the lrame of a particular ethnographic project hut also the still wider world that both impacts upon and transcends that lrame. The f()Urth principle reasserts the importance of cultural relativism and the global nature of our encounter with the digital, negating assumptions that the digital is necessarily homogenizing and also giving voice and visibility to those who are peripheralizcd by modernist and similar perspectives. The fitlh principle is concerned with the essential ambiguity of digital culture with regard to its increasing openness and closure, which emerge in matters ranging from politics and privacy to the authenticity of ambivalence. Our final principle acknowledges the materiality of digital worlds, which are neither more nor less material than the worlds that preceded them. Material culture approaches have shown how materiality is also the mechanism behind our final observation, which is also our primary justification for an anthropological approach. This concerns humanity\ remarkable capacity to reimpose normativity just as quickly as digital technologies create conditions for change. We shall argue that it is this drive to the normative that that makes attempts to understand the impact of the digital in the absence of anthropology unviable. As many of the chapters in this volume will demonstrate, the digital, as all material culture, is more than a substrate; it is becoming a constitutive part of what makes us human. The primary point of this introduction, and the emergence of digital anthropology as a subfield more generally, is in resolute opposition to all approaches that imply that becoming digital has either rendered us less human, less authentic or more mediated. Not only are we just as human within the digital world, the digital also provides many new opportunities f(Jr anthropology to help us understand what it means to he human.

The Digital and the !Iuman 5


colleagues looked to innovations in research methodology, ''bile others focused on the digitalization of collections and archives. Still others li.JCuscd upon new media and digital communication, such as smartphoncs. Alongside llll\'clty, the word digital has come to be associated with a much wider and older meta-discourse of modernism, from science tiction to various versions of tcchnolihcralism. At the end of the day, however, the word seems to have become a discursive catchall for nm city. For the purposes or this hook, we feel it may thcrcltliT he helpful to start \\ ith a clear and unambiguous definition of the digital. Rather than a general distinction between the digital and the analogue, we define the digital as everything that has been developed by, or can he reduced to, the binary-that is hits consisting of Os and Is. The development of binary code radically simplified int(mnation and communication, creating new possibilities ofcomcrgencc between\\ hat were pre\ iously disparate technologies or content. We will usc this basic definition, but \\C arc <marc that the term digital has been associated with many other developments. For e:\amplc systems theory and the cybernetics of Norbert Wiener (Turner 2006: 20 X: Wiener 194X) developed from observations of self-regulatory feedback mechanisms in li\ing organisms that have nothing to do with binary code hut can be applied to engineering. We also acknowledge that the usc of term digital in colloquial discourse is clearly wider than our specific usage: we suggest that having such an unambiguous definition has heuristic benefits that \\ill become evident below. One advantage of defining the digital as binary is that this definition also helps us identity a possible historical precedent. If the digital is ddincd as our ability to reduce so much of the world to the commonality of a binary, a sort of baseline 2, then we can also reflect upon humanity's ability to previously reduce much of the world to baseline I 0, the decimal f(lllndation f(Jr systems of modern money. There is a prior and established anthropological debate about the consequences of money l(x humanity that may help us to conceptualize the consequences of the digital. Just like the digital, money represented a new phase in human abstraction \\here, f(x the first time, practically anything could he reduced to the same common clement. This reduction of quality to quantity was in turn the foundation for an c:\plosion of diiTcrcntiated things, especially the huge c:\pcmsion of commoditization linked to industrialization. In both cases, the more we reduce to the same, the more we can thereby create difference. This is what makes money the best precedent for understanding digital culture and leads to our first principle of the dialectic. Dialectical thinking, as developed by Hegel, theorized this relationship hct\vcen the simultaneous growth of the universal and of the particular as dependent upon each other rather than in opposition to each other. This is the case both with money and with the digital. For social science much of the concern was\\ ith the\\ ay money meant that everything that we hold dear can now he reduced to the quantitative. This reduction to baseline I 0 seemed at least as much a threat as a promise to our general humanity. Generalized from Marx and Simmcl 's original arguments \\ ith regard to capitalism by the Frankfurt School and others, money threatens humanity both as

Defining the Digital through the Dialectic


Some time ago Daniel Miller and Haidy Geismar were discussing the launch of the new master's programme in digital anthropology at University College London. Reflecting upon similar initiatives in museum studies at New York University, Geismar mentioned that one of the challenges of creating such programs revolved around the tact that everyone had different ideas of what the digital implied. Some scholars looked to three-dimensional visualizations of museum objects. For others, the digital referred to virtual displays, the development ofwchsitcs and virtual exhibitions. Some

6 Digital AnthmJwlogr
universalized abstraction and as differentiated JXtrlicularity. As an abstraction. money gives rise to various forms of capital and their inherent tendency to aggrandizement. As particularity. money threatens our humanity through the sheer scale and diversity of commoditizcd culture. We take such arguments to he sufficiently well established as to not require li.trthcr elucidation here. Keith Hati (2000. 2005. 2007) was the first to suggest that money might he a uscli.Ji precedent to the digital. because money provides the basis for a specifically anthropological response to the challenges which the digital in turn poses to our humanity.' Money was always virtual to the degree that it extended the possibilities of abstraction. Exchange became more distant !rom l~tcc-1o-l~1cc transaction and rocuscd on equivalence. calculation and the quantitative as opposed to human and social consequence. Hart recognized that digital technologies align with these virtual properties: indeed. they make money itscl f sli II more abstract. more detcrritorial izcd. cheaper. more ellicicnt and closer to the nature of inrormation or communication. Hart previously argued that i r money was it sci f responsible for such effects. then perhaps humanity's hcsl response was to tackle this problem at its source. He saw a potential for human liberation in various schemes that reunite money with social relations. such as local exchange trading schemes (Hart 2000: 2XO 7). For Hart. the digital not only exacerbates the problems or money hut also can form part of the solution since new money-like schemes based on the Internet may allm~ us to create more democratized and personalized systems of exchange outside of mainstream capitalism. Pay Pal and cBay hint at these cmancipatory possibilities in digital money and trade. Certainly. as Zclizcr ( 1994) has shown. there arc many ways we domesticate and resocializc money. For example many people usc the money they earn lrom side jobs l(lr personal treats. ignoring the apparent homogeneity or money as money. By contrast Simmcl's ( 197X) masterpiece. The Philosophv of Monel'. includes the first detailed analysis of what was happening at the other end of this dialectical equation. Money was also behind the commodification that led to a vast quantitative increase in material culture. This also created a potential source of alienation as we are deluged hy the vast mass of dilkrentiatcd stutf that surpasses our capacity to arrropriate it as culture. Similarly. in our new cliches of the digital we are told that humanity is being swamped hy the scale of in l(mnation and the sheer number of di f .. lerenl things we are expected to attend to. Much of the debate about the digital and the human is premised on the threat that the l(mllcr poses l(lr the latter. We arc told that our humanity is beset both hy the digital as virtual abstraction and its opposite form as the sheer quantity of heterogenizcd things that are thereby produced. In erICct. the digital is producing too much culture. which. because we cannot manage and engage with it. renders us thereby superficial or shallow or alienated. If Hart argued that our response should he to tackle money at the source. an alternative is presented in Material Culture and A1ass Consumption (Miller 19X7). Miller suggested that reoplc struggle against this lceling of alienation and superficiality not by resocializing money. in the ways described hy Zelizcr. hut through their

The I )igital and the !Iuman 7


consumption of commodities in their specificity. The e\ cry day act of shopping. in which vve designate most goods as not 'us before tinding one \\e \\ill buy. is (in a small way) an allempt to reassert our cultural specificity. We use goods as possessions to try and turn the alienable hack into the inalienable. Otlcnthis l~tils. but there are many ways in which everyday domestic consumption utili;res commodities to
t~lCilitatc

meaningl"ul relationships bcl\\een persons (Miller 2007). If we agree to regard money as the precedent f()r the digitaL Hart and Miller then

provide two distinct positions on the consequences of the digital for our sense of our own humanity. Do we address the problems posed hy the digital at the point of its production as abstract code or in our relationship to the mass ofne\\ cultural forms that have been created using digital technologies') What does seem clear is that the digital is indeed a rurther twist to the dialectical screw. At the level of abstraction. there arc grounds l(lr thinking we have reached rock hollom: there can he nothing more basic and abstract than binary hits. the di lkrcnce between 0 and I. At the other end of the scale. it is already clear that the digital l~tr outstrips mere commoditization in its ability to prolilerate ditkrcnce. Digital processes can reproduce and communicate c:xact copies prodigiously and cheaply. They can both extend commoditization. hut equally. in fields such as communication and music. we have seen a remarkable trend towards dccommoditization as people tlnd ways to gel things l(ll liee. Whether commodified (or not). what is clear is that digital technologies are prolilcrating a vastly increased field of cultural tl.m11s. and what we ha\ e seen so lar may be just the beginning. To date. most of the literature on the revolutionary impact and potential of the digital has tended to j()llow Hart in l(lcusing upon the abstract end of the equation. This point of view is represented in this volume by Karanovic\ discussion of free soliwarc and sharing. For example. Kelty (200X) uses historical and ethnographic methods to retrace the work of those \Vho founded and created the licc sotlware movement that lies behind many developments in digital culture (see also Karanovic
200X). including instruments ~uch as Linux. UNIX and distributed free software

such as Napster and Fircl()x. There are many reasons why these de\ clopmcnts have been celebrated. As Karanovic notes. they dcri\ e limn long-standing political debates which include ideals of liee access and ideals of distributed im ention. both of which seemed to betoken an escape limn the endless increase in commoditization. and. in certain areas such as music. ha\ e led to a quite ctkcti\ c dccommoditication. Soliwarc that was shared and not sold seemed to realize the ne\\ elliciencies and relative cosllessness of digital creation and communication. It also cxrrcssed a freedom from control and governance. \\ h ich seemed to rea lizc \ arious forms of anarchist -or more specifically the idealized-links between new technology and liberalism that arc discussed hy Barcndregt and Malahy. It is also a trend continued by the hacker groups discussed hy Karanovic. leading to the more anarchist aims of organizations such as Anonymous. which is studied hy Coleman (2009). What is clear in Karanovic's and others contributions is that. just as Simmel Sa\\ that money was not just a new medium but one that allowed humanity to ad\ a nee

8 !Jigitul A nthmpolog1
in conceptualization and philosophy towards a new imagination of itself~ so open source docs not simply change coding. The very ideal and experience of free soliware and open source leads to analogous ideals of what Kelty (200X) calls recursive publics, a committed and involved population that could create fields ranging tiotn fi-cc publishing to the collective creation ofWikipcdia modelled on thL' ideal of open source. At a time when the lcfi-leaning student idealism that had lasted since the I 960s seemed exhausted, digital activism became a plausible substitute. This trend has been a major component of digital anthropology to date. including the impact of mainstream politics discussed by Postill. The enthusiasm is reflected in Hart's contribution to anthropology, which included the establishment of the Open Anthropology Cooperative. a social networking forum for the purpose of democratizing anthropological discussion. Many students also first encounter the idea of a digital anthropology through 'An Anthropological Introduction to YouTubc by M ichacl Wesch. a prol"cssor at the University of Kansas. \\ hich celebrates this sense of equality of participation and creation (Wesch 200X). There arc, however, some cracks in this wall of idealism. Kelty (200X) documents the disputes amongst activists over what could become seen as heretical or alternative ideals (sec also Juris 200X). Two people's coding technique could diverge to such an extent that people have to take sides. The ideal was of a new arena in which anyone can participate. Companies such as Apple and Microsoft retain their dominance over open source alternatives partly because such ideals flourish more in the initial creative process than in more tedious areas of the management and repair infrastructure. which all platforms require, whether open or closed. But the reality is that only extremely technically knowledgeable 'gceks" have the ability and time to create such open-source developments. This is less true for businesses. and patent controversies and hardware tic-ins can stack the deck against tree software. Curiously Nafus. Leach and Krieger's (2006) study of tice/libre/open-sourcc development found that only 1.5 per cent of the gccks involved in open source activities were women. making it one of the most extreme examples of gender discrepancy in this day and age. Even in less technical areas, a report suggests that only 13 per cent of those who contribute to Wikipcdia arc women (Giott. Schmidt and Ghosh 20 I 0). Women seemed less likely to embrace what was perceived as a rather antisocial commitment of time to technology required of radical activism and activists (though sec Coleman 2009). This is precisely the problematic area addressed by Karanovic in her analysis ofGcckCiirlfriend. a campaign that clearly acknowledges. although not necessarily resolves, these issues of gender discrepancy. Such interventions rest in part on what Karanovic and Coleman have revealed to be quite an extensive sociality that contrasts with stereotypes of gccks. As Karanovic discusses. there remain regional distinctions in these developments partly because they articulate with different local political traditions. For example French free software activists arc mostly oriented towards French and European

The /)igilul und the I fulllu/1 9

Union interlocutors. One problem in these discussions is that the term /ihcml is seen in the United States as a position in opposition to conscnati\e I(Jrccs. \\hilc in Europe the word lihcra/ is used to describe the extreme imlividualism of US rightwing politics and capitalism. In Brazil. the government support of open-source soliware and free culture more broadly \\as tied to a culture of resistance to hegemonic global culture, the global order and traditional patterns of production and 0\\ ncrship with the aim of providing sociaL cultural and financial inclusion for all Brazilian citizens (Horst 2011 ). Following Hegel. European political traditions tend to sec individual fi-ccdom as a contradiction in terms: ultimately freedom can only derive tiom law and governance. Anarchism suits wide-eyed students \\ ith little responsibility. but social-democratic egalitarianism requires systems of regulation and bureaucracy. high taxation and redistribution to actually \\ork as human \\clt~lrc. The dialectical contradictions imolved arc especially clear in the impact of the digital upon money itself There arc many wdcomc technological ad\ anccs that range tiom the sheer availability and clticiency of automated teller machines. new finance. the way migrants can remit money via Western Union to the emergence of calling cards ( Vcrtovcc 2004 ). airtime minutes. micropayments and related sen ices in the payments space (Maurer fixthcoming). Inspired by the success of M-Pesa in Kenya. the Gramecn Bank in Bangladesh and other model projects. throughout the developing world the promise of mobile banking (m-banking) has led to a number of initiatives focused on banking the so-called unbanked" (Donner 200X: Donner and Tellez 200X: Morawczynski 2007 ). This latter area is subject of a major anthropological programme led by Bill Maurer and his Institute for Money. Technology and Financial Inclusion. Preliminary work on the emergence of mobile money in post-earthquake Haiti by Espclencia Baptiste. !leather Horst and Erin Taylor (20 I 0) reveals modifications of the original visioning of mobile money: in addition to the peer-to-peer (P2P) transactions imagined by the services" designers. early adopters of the service are using me-to-me (M2M) transactions to store money on their mobile accounts for safety and security. The cost associated \\ ith sending and sa\ing money on ones' own account is perceived as worth the risk of loss of the sum total of the amount saved (Baptiste. llorst and Taylor 20 I 0: Taylor. Baptiste and Horst 20 I I ). This situation is not quite so positive when we turn to the \\ orld of virtual money. In his research. Julian Dibbell (2006) used the classic l.'lhnographic method of participant observation and set himself the task of making some real money 'ia im csting and playing with virtual money. He noted that. at the time. in games such as World of Warcraft, 'merely getting yourself off to a respectable start might entail buying a level 60 Alliance warrior account from a departing player ($1.999 on cBay)" ( Dibbcll2006: 12). Taken as a whole. in 2005 these games were 'generating a quantity of real wealth on the order or S20 billion each year' (Dibbcll 2006: 13 ). His ethnography re\ calcd that the virtual world of digital money was subject to pretty much every kind of scam and entrepreneurial trick that one finds in olllinc business-and then some. Furthermore.

I 0 Digital Anthropologr
Dihbcll (2007) also provides one of the first discussions of gold fam1ing, where it was claimed players in wealthy countries l~trmcd out the repetitive, boring keystrokes required to obtain virtual advances in these games to low-income workers in places such as China, though the idea may have become something of a discursive trope (Nardi and Kow 20 I 0). More clearly documented by anthropologist Xiang (2007) is body shopping, where digital labour (()r mundane tasks such as debugging is imported from low-income countries to Australia or the United States hut at lower wages. The example of money shows that we can find clear positives in new accessibility and banking for the poor but also negatives such as body shopping or new possibilities of' financial chicanery found in high finance (Lewis 19X9). which contributed to the dot-com debacle (Cassidy 2002) and the more recent banking crisis. Thi~ suggests that the new political economy of' the digital world is really not that different from the older political economy. The digital extends the possibilities previously unleashed by money, equally the positive and the negative. All this follows from Hart's argument that we need to find emancipation through taming money or expanding open source that is at the point of abstraction. The alternative argument made by Miller looked to the other end of' the dialectical equation--- at the mass of highly di ffcrcntiatcd goods that were being created by these technologies. Following that logic, we want to suggest an alternative front line lor the anthropology of' the digital age. The exact opposite of the tcchnophilcs of California might he the main informants fix a recent study of mothering, whose typical participant was a middle-aged, Filipina domestic worker in London who tended to regard new technologies as either male, li1rcign, oppressive, or all three (Madianou and Miller 2011 ). Madianou and Miller's informants may have been deeply suspicious o( and quite possibly detested, much of this new digital technology and only purchased their first computer or started to learn to type within the last two years. Yet Filipina domestics could be the real vanguard troops in marching towards the digital future as they effectively accomplish that which these other studies arc in some ways searching for. They may not impact on the creation of' digital technologies, but they arc at the forefront of' developing their social uses and consequences. They usc the latest communicative technologies not li1r reasons of vision, or ideology, or ability, but for reasons of necessity. They live in London and Cambridge, but in most cases their chi ldrcn sti II Iivc in the Phi Iippi ncs. In an carl icr study. Parrenas 's ( 2005) participants saw their children (()r only twcnty-f()ur weeks out of the last eleven years. Such cases exemplify the wider point noted by Panagakos and Horst (2006) regarding the centrality of new communication media for transnational migrants. The degree to which these mothers could crtcctively remain mothers depended almost entirely upon the degree to which they could usc these new media to remain in some sort of contact with their children. In short, it was hard to think of any population for whom the prospects granted by digital technologies would matter more. It was in observing the usage by domestics that Madianou and Miller formulated their concept of polymedia, extending earlier ideas on media and communicative ecologies to consider

The /)igi tal and the lfunw11 II


the interactivity between different media and their importance to the emotional repertoire that these mothers required in dealing with their children. But transnational mothering through polymcdia vvas not the first time the Philippines appeared at the vanguard of digital media and technology. As has been chronicled by Pertierra and colleagues (2002), the Philippines is globally recognized as the capital of phone texting. From its early introduction through today, more texts an: sent per person in the Philippines than anywhere else in the world. Tcxting soon became central to the li.mnation and maintenance of' relationships and was claimed (v\ith some exaggeration) to have played a key role in overthrowing governments. The point of this illustration is that texting is a prime case of' a technology intended only as a minor add-on, \\hose impact was created through the collectivity of consumers. It \\as poverty and need that drove these innovations in usage, not merely the all'ordanccs of' the technology. In the case of the disabled activists discussed by Ginsburg, necessity is paired\\ ith explicit ideology. The activists arc well aware that digital technologies ha\ e the potential to transli.mn their relationship to the very notion of being human- a\ is ion driwn by long years in which they knew they were equally human, but other people did not. This is not to presume that such realizations, when accomplished, arc always entirely positive. In general, the mothers studied by Madianou and Miller claimed that the nev\ media had allowed them to act and ICc! more like real mothers again. When Madianou and Miller spoke to the children of these same domestics in the Philippines, some of them kit that their relationships had deteriorated as a result of this constant contact that amounted to surveillance. As Tacchi notes in her contribution, the use of digital media and technology t()f giving voice invol\ es 1~tr more than merely transplanting digital technologies and assuming they provide positive a11'ordanccs. The subsequent consequences are created in the context of each place, not given in the technology. The point is not to choose between Hart's emphases upon the point of abstraction and Miller's on the point ofdilkrcntiation. The principle of the dialectic is that it is an intrinsic condition of digital technologies to expand both. and the impact is also intrinsically contradictory, producing both positive and negative clkcts. This \\as already evident in the anthropological study of' money and commodities. A critical contribution of digital technologies is the way they exacerbate but also rewa! those contradictions. Anthropologists need to be involv cd right across this spectrum, from KaranoviC's analysis of those involved in the creation of digital technology to Ginsburg's work on those who place emphasis upon their consequences.

Culture and the Principle of False Authenticity


Having made clear what exactly we mean by the term digital, \\ e also need to address what is implied by the term culture. For this \\C assert as our second principle something that may seem to contradict much of what has been written about digital technologies: people arc not one iota more mediated by the rise of digital

12 Digital Anthropologr

The /)igi!al and !he !Iuman 13


experience of the rarticular person who is our mother. and the discrepancy bet\\ ccn these two. Filipina mothers \~CIT working simultaneously \vith regional. national and transnational models of how mothers arc supposed to act. By the end of the book (Madianou and Miller 2011 ). the emphasis is not on nc\\ media mediating mother child relationships: rather. it is far more about hlm the struggle 0\ cr the concept of being a proper mother mediates hO\v '' c choose and usc polymcdia. Tacchi 's contribution further illustrates this point. Those imohcd in dc\clopmcnt around nc\\ media and communication technologies ha\c come to rcali/c that what is required is not so much the local appropriation of a technology but the importance of listening to the differences in culture which determine what a particular tcclmology becomes. Similarly. Ginsburg demonstrates that the issue of\\ hat\\ c mean by the word human is what determines the impact of these technologies for the disabled. Unless technology can shill the meaning of humanity. technology alone'' ill not make the rest of us more humane. To spell out this second principle. then. digital anthropology ''ill be insightful to the degree that it reveals the mediated and framed nature of the nondigital \\orld. Digital anthropology l~1ils to the degree it makes the nondigital \\orld appear in retrospect as unmcdiated and unframed. We are not more mediated simply because \\ e are not more cultural than we were before. One of the reasons digital studies have ollen taken quite the opposite course has been the continued usc of the term ,irll!al. with its implied contrast with the real. As BocllstortT makes clear. online worlds arc simply another arena. alongside otllinc worlds. for expressive practice. and there is no reason to privilege one over the other. Every time \\C usc the \\ord real analytically. as opposed to colloquially. we undermine the project of digital anthropology. letishizing predigital culture as a site of retained authenticity. This point has been nuanced recently by some important \\Tiling on the theory of mediation ( Eisenlohr 20 II: Engelke 20 I 0). As consistent \\ ith Bourdicu 's ( 1977) concept of habitus. we may imagine that a person born in medic\ al Europe \\ot!ld see his or her Christianity objectified in countless media and their intcrtcxtuality. But in those days. the media would have been buildings. \\Titings. clothing accessories. preaching. and so forth. Meyer (20 II) notes that the critical debate over the role of media in Christianity took place during the Reformation. Catholics fostered a culture of materiality in which images proliferated but retained a sense of mediation such that these stood for the greater mystery of Christ. Protestants. by contrast. tried to abolish both the mediation of objects and of wider cultural processes and instead f(Jstcrcd an ideal based on the immediacy of a subjective experience of the di\inc. In some respects the current negative response to digital technologies stems flom this Protestant desire to create an ideal of unmcdiatcd authenticity and subjectivity. In short. anthropologists may not believe in the unmcdiatcd. but Protestant theology clearly docs. As Eiscnlohr (20 II) notes. the modern anthropology of media starts \\ ith '' orks such as Anderson's ( !9X3 ). which showed how many key terms. such as llllliono!ism

technologies. The rroblem is clearly i llustratcd in a n:ccnt book by Sherry Turkle (20 II) which is infused with a nostalgic lament l(x certain kinds of sociality or humanity deemed lost as a result of new digital technologies ranging from robots to Facebook. The imrlication of her book is that rrior forms of sociality were somehow more natural or authentic by virtue of being less mediated. For exam ric, Turkle bemoans rcorlc coming home from work and going on Face book instead of watching TV. In fact. when it was first introduced. TV was subject to similar claims as to its lack of authenticity and the end oftruc sociality (Sricgcl 1992): yet TV is in no way more natural and. dcrcnding on the context. could be argued to be a good deal less sociable than Faccbook. Turklc reflects a more general tendency towards nostalgia widcsrrcad in journalism and a range of work focusing on the ctfccts of media that view new technology as a loss of authentic sociality. This often cxrloits anthrorological writing on small-scale societies. which arc taken to be a vis ion of authentic humanity in its more natural and less-mediated state. This is entirely antithetical to what anthrorological theory actually stands for. In the discirlinc of anthrorology. all rcorle are equally cultural-that is. they are the rroducts of objectification. Australian aboriginal tribes may not have much material culture. but instead they usc their landscape to create extraordinary and complex cosmologies that then become the order of society and the structures guiding social engagement (e.g. Munn 1973: Myers !9S6). In anthropology there is no such thing as rurc human immediacy: interacting l~1ce-to-lacc is just as culturally inflected as digitally mediated communication. but. as Cionimm ( 1959. 1975) pointed out again and again. we htil to sec the framed nature of tace-to-hJcc interaction because these frames work so ctfcctivcly. The impact of digital technologies. such as wcbcams. are sometimes unsettling largely because they makes us aware and newly self-conscious about those takcn-l(lr-grantcd frames around direct 1~1ce-to-l~!cc encounters. Potentially one of the major contributions of a digital anthropology would be the degree to which it finally explodes the illusions we retain of a nonmcdiated. mmcultural. rredigital world. A good example would be Van Dijck (2007). who uses new digital memorialization such as photography to show that memory was always a cultural rather than individual construction. Photography as a normative material mediation (Drazin and Frohlich 2007) reveals how memory is not an individual psychological mechanism but consists largely of that which it is appropriate for us to recall. The foundation of anthropology. in its separation from psychology. came with our insistence that the subjective is culturally constructed. To return to a previous example. Miller and Madianous research on Filipina mothers depended on much more than understanding the new communication technologies: at least as much effort was expended uron trying to understand the Filipina concept of motherhood because being a mother is just as much a form of mediation as being on the Internet. Using a more general theory of kinship (Miller 200X). Miller and Madianou argue that the concept of a mother should be understood in terms of a triangle: our nonnative concept of what mothers in general arc supposed to be like. our

14 Digital Anthropologr

The f)igitul and the !Iuman 15

and cthnicitl', dcvelopcd in large measure through changcs in the media by which culture circulates. Thcrc arc excellent \vorks on the ways. for example, casscttc tapes impact upon religion as a form of public circulation prior to digital forms (Hirschkind 2006; Manucl 1993 ). But in all these cases, it is not that mcdia simply mediates a 11xcd clement calkd religion. Religion itsclf is a highly committed form ofmcdiation that remains vcry concerned with controlling the usc and conscqucnccs of specific media. This is evident when we think about the rclationship between Protestantism and digital mcdia. At first we scc a paradox. It sccms vcry strange that we have sevcral centurics during which Protestants try to eliminate all objects that stand in the way of an unmcdiatcd relationship with the di\ inc whilc Catholics embrace a proliferation of images. Yct when it comes to modcrn digital media, the position is almost rcvcrscd. It is not Catholics, but evangelical Protestants. that seem to cmbracc with alacrity cvcry kind of new mcdia, fiom tclc\ ision to Faccbook. They arc amongst the most enthusiastic adopters of such new technologies. This makcs sense once we rccognizc that, fi.Jr cvangelical Christians, the media docs not mediate. Othcrwisc they would surely oppose it. Rather. Protestants havc sccn media. unlikc images, as a conduit to a more direct. unmcdiatcd relationship with the divinc (Hancock and Gordon 2005). As Meycr (200X) dcmonstratcs, cvangclical Christianity embraces cvcry type of ncw digital mcdia but docs so to create cxpcricnccs that arc ever more full-bloodcd in their sensuality and emotionality. Thc 1\.postolics that Miller studied in Trinidad asked only one question about thc Internet: Why did God invcnt the lntcrnct at this moment in time'! The answer was that God intended them to becomc

exemplification of digital culturc. but this is bccausc. for anthropology. a )\jc\\ York accountant or a Korean games player is no more and no less authentic than a contemporary tribal pricst in East 1\.liica. Wc arc all the result of culture as mcdiation. whether through the rules of kinship and religion or the rules ofnctiqucttc and game play. The problem is with the concept of authenticity (Lindholm 2007 ). Curiously the earlier writings of Turkk ( 19X4) ''ere amongst the most potent in refuting thcsc presumptions of prior authenticity. The contc:-.t was the emergence ol' the idea ol'the virtual and the a\ a tar in role-playing games. As she pointcd out. issues of role-play and presentation \\ere just as much the basis ofprcdigitallil'c. somcthing very cvidcnt liom cvcn a cursory reading oUioflinan ( 1959. 1975 ). Social scicncc had demonstrated how the real \\orld was\ irtuallong bci(Jrc we came to n:ali/c hm\ the virtual world is real. One of thc most insightful anthropological discussions of this notion of authenticity is llumphrcy's (2009) study of Russian chat rooms. The avatar does not merely reproduce the olllinc pcrson: it is on thc Interne! that thcsc Russian players ICcl able. perhaps fi.1r the first time. to more fully express their soul and passion. Online thcy can bring out the person thcy !'eel they really arc, which\\ as previously constrained in olllinc worlds. For these playcrs. just as fi.Jr thc disabkd discussed by Ginsburg. it is only on the lntcrnct that a person can finally become rcal. Such discussion depends on our acknowledgment that the tcrm reo/must be t-cgardcd as colloquial and not epistemological. Bringing togcthcr thcsc ideas of mediation (and religion). Gortinan. Turklc\ early work. Humphrey and the contributions hcre of BoellstorfT and Ginsburg, it should bc clear that '' c arc not more mediated. We arc cqually human in each of the dil'lercnt and di\crsc arenas ol' framed beha\iour "'ithin which we live. Each may. however. bring out difl'crcnt aspects of our humanity and thereby finesse our appreciation of\\ hat being human is. Digital anthropology and its core concerns thereby enhance conventional anthropology.

the Global Church, and the lntcrnct \\as the media fi.Jr abolishing mere localized
religion such as an ordinary church service and instcad become globally connectcd (Miller and Slatcr 2000: IX7 92). More rcccntly the same church has been using Face book and other new media fi.mns to cxprcss the very latest in God\ vision for what they should be ( M ilkr 20 II: XX 9X ). This is also "'hy. as Meyer (20 II: 33) notcs, the less digitally minded rcligions, as in some versions of Catholicism. try to protcct a sense of mystery they sec as not fully captured by new media. In summary, an anthropological perspcctivc on mediation is largcly concerned to understand why somc mcdia arc pcrccived as mcdiating and others arc not. Rather than seeing prcdigital worlds as kss mediated, we need to study how the rise of digital tcchnologics has created the illusion that they were. For example when the Internet first dcvelopcd, Stevcn .Jones ( 199X) and othcrs writing about its social impact saw thc Internet as a mode f(Jr the reconstruction of community. Yet much of thcsc writings seemed to assume an illusionary notion of community as a natural collectivity that existed in the prcdigital age (Parks 2011: 105-9; for a sceptical view, sec l'ostill 200X; Woolgar 2002). They became so concerned with the issue of whether the Internet was bringing us back to community that they radically simplified the concept of community itself as somcthing cntircly positive (compare Miller 20 II: 16-27). In this volume. we follow Ginsburg and Tacchi in asserting that any and every social fraction or marginal community has an cqual right to he seen as the

Transcending Method through the Principle of Holism


The next two principles arc largely a reiteration oft\\ o of the basic conditions of anthropological apprehensions of the vv orld, but both rcquirc a certain caution bci(Jrc being embraced. There arc several entirely di ffcrcnt grounds for retaining a holistic approach within anthropology, onc or\\ hich has bccn largely dcbunkcd \\ ithin anthropology it sci f. Many of the thcordical arguments fi.Jr holism' camc fimn either the organic analogies of functionalism or a culture conccpt that emphasi;cd internal homogeneity and external exclusivity. Both have been subject to trenchant criticism. and today there arc no grounds li.1r anthropology to assert an ideological commitmcnt to holism. Whi lc theoretically suspect, there arc, hO\\ e\cr, other reasons to retain a commitment to holism which arc closely connected to anthropological methodology. cspccially (but not only) cthnography. We will di\ ide these moti\ ations to retain a commitment to holism into three categories: the reasons that pcrtain to thc individual.

16

Digilal AnlhmJwlogr

The /)igilal and !he Human

17

those that pertain to the ethnographic and those that pertain to the global. The first is simply the observation that no one lives an entirely digital lil'c and that no digital media or technology exists outside of networks that include analogue and other media technologies. While heuristically anthropologists will focus upon particular aspects of life a chapter on museums. another on social networking. another on politics--we recognize that the person working at the museum builds social networks and gets involved in politics and that the specifics of any of these three may depend on understanding the other two. What llorst conveys in her chapter is precisely this feeling of easy integration of digital technologies within the lives of her participants. The concept of polymcdia developed by Madianou and Miller (20 II) exemplifies internal connectivity in relation to personal communications. We cannot easily treat each new media independently since they form part of a wider media ecology in which the meaning and usage of any one depends on its relationship to others (Horst Herr-Stephenson and Robinson 20 I 0); using e-mail may he a choice against tcxting and using a social network site; posting comments may he a choice between private messaging and a voice call. Today, when the issues of cost and access have in many places of the world lllilcn into the background. people arc held responsible for which media they choose. In Gershon's (20 I 0) ethnography of US college students, being dumped by boyfriends with an inappropriate media adds much insult to the injury of being dumped. In Madianou and Miller's (20 II) work, polymcdia arc exploited to increase the range of emotional fields of power and communication between parents and their lell-hchind children. But this internal holism for the individual and media ecology is complemented by a wider holism that cuts across different domains. For Broadbent (20 11 ), the choice of media is only understood by rc!Crencc to other contexts. Instead of one ethnography of the workplace and another of home, we sec how usage depends on the relationship between work and home and between very close relationships set against weaker relational tics. This second level of holism is implicit in the method of ethnography. In reading Coleman's (20 I 0) review of the anthropology of online worlds (which provides a much more extensive bibliography than the one provided here), it is apparent that there is almost no topic of conventional anthropology that would not today have a digital inllcction. Her references range from news broadcasting. mail-order brides, medical services. aspects of identity, finance. linguistics. politics and pretty much every other aspect of life. In essence, the issue of holism relates not just to the way an individual brings together all the dispersed aspects of his or her life as an individual but also how anthropology transcends the myriad foci of research to recognize the co-presence of all these topics within our larger understanding of society. Another point illustrated clearly in Coleman's survey is that there arc now more sites to be considered. because digital technologies have created their own worlds. Her most extended example is the ethnography of spamming. a topic that exists only by virtue of the digitaL as would be the case of the online worlds

represented here by Bocllstorff and in our enhanced perception of rclati\C space in olllinc worlds described by DeNicola. The holistic sense of ethnography is brought out clearly by the combination of Boellstortrs and Ciinsburg's rctlcctions on the ethnography of Second Life. Granting Second Life its own integrity matters for people '' ho feel disabled and disach antagcd in other worlds; it is a site \\here. for example, they canli\c a full religious life. carrying out rituals they would be unable to pcrl(mn otherwise. Bocllstorlfpoints out that the holistic ideal of ethnography is increasingly honoured in the breach. This is well illustrated by Drazin who reveals how in design. as in many other commercial contexts. the very terms oi71hropologicol and c!hnograJihic arc commonly used these days as tokenistic emblems of such holism ollcn reduced to a fe,, in ten iC\\ s. I Ic argues that we can only understand design practice '' ithin the much '' idcr context of more traditional extended ethnography l(lllnd in anthropology and. increasingly. in other disciplines. But if proper ethnography were the sole criteria hlr hoi ism. it\\ ould it sci fbecome something of a liability. This is why we require a third holistic commitment. There arc not just the connections that matter because they arc all part of an indi\ idual's life or because they arc all encountered within an ethnography. Things may also connect up on a much larger canvass, such as the political economy. E\cry time we make a debit card payment. \vC exploit a vast network that exists aside limn any particular individual or social group, whose connections would not be apparent within any version of ethnography. These connections arc closer to the kinds of networks discussed by Caste lis and Latour or to older traditions such as Wallerstein\ ( 1980) world systems theory. Anthropology and ethnography arc more than method. A commitment to ethnography that ll1ils to engage with the wider study of political economy and global institutions would sec the wider holistic intention betrayed by mere method. This problem is exacerbated by digital technologies that ha\ c created a radical rewiring of the infrastructure of our world. As a result \\C sec C\ en less and understand less of these vast networks than pre\ iously. For this bigger picture. '' c arc committed to travel those wires and wireless connections and make them explicit in our studies. Anthropology has to develop its own relationship'' ith ''hat has been called Big Data (boyd and Crawl(ml 2011 )-vast amounts of inl(mnation that arc increasingly networked with each other. If we ignore these new l(mns of knowledge and inquiry, we succumb to yet another version of the digital di\ ide. Although 11roadbcnt and her associates conducted long-term and intcnsi\ c studies of media usc in S" itzcrland, she does not limit her evidence to this. There is also a considerable body of statistical and other meta data and a good deal of more systematic recording and mapping that formed part of her project. She thereby juxtaposes data tiom specifically anthropological methods with data limn other disciplines in order to reach her conclusion. In this introduction we arc arguing I(Jr the necessity of an anthropological approach to the digitaL hut not through exclusivity or purity that presumes it has nothing to learn from media studies. commercial studies. geography.

18 Digital Anthro;}()/ogr

The /)igitu/ and the ffunwn 19

sociology and the natural sciences. In addition. we do not have a separate discussion of ethnography and anthropological method here since this is well covered by BoellstoriT's contribution. We affirm his conclusion that holism should never mean a collapse of the various terrains of humanity. which arc ollcn also our specific domains of enquiry into each other. Online worlds have their own integrity and their own intertextuality. taking their genres from each other. as v.as evident in BoellstoriT's (2008: 60--5) monograph on Second Li k. which includes a spirited defence of the autonomous nature of online worlds as the subject of ethnography. Both we and Boellstorlf think that this integrity is compatible with our prcl'crcncc for including the olflinc context of Internet usage. where possible. depending upon the actual research question (Miller and Slater 2000). For example. it is instructive that when llorst (200l)), in an investigation of teenagers in California. pulls back the lens l(lr a moment to include the bedrooms in which these teenagers are located while on their computers. one suddenly has a better sense of the ambience they arc trying to create as a relationship between online and olllinc worlds (llorst 20 I 0). In his contribution BocllstorfT argues that theories of indcxicality derived from Pierce can help relate evidence from di llcrcnt domains at a higher level. Digital worlds create new domains. but also. as Broadbent shows. they can cflcctivcly collapse established dillcrences. as between work and non work. despite all the cfl(lrts of commerce to resist this. There is a final aspect of holism that anthropologists cannot lose sight or. While anthropologists may repudiate holism as ideology, we still have to deal with the way others embrace holism as an ideal. Postill's discussion of the digital citizen reveals how, while democracy is ollicially secured by an occasional vote. mobile digital governance is imagined as creating conditions for a much more integrated and constant relationship between governance and an active participatory or community citizenship that deals with embracing much wider aspects of people's lives. Ollcn this is based on assuming that previously it was only the lack of appropriate technology that prevented the realization of such political ideals. ignoring the possibility that people may not actually want to be bothered with this degree of political involvement. Political holism thereby approximates what Postill calls a normative ideal. He shows that the actual impact of the digital is an expansion of involvement but is still. for most people. largely contained within
l~llniliar

cultural diflerencc (Ginsburg 200X). As with holism. there is a \crsion ofrclati\ ism that anthropologists have repudiated (at least since World War I1) associated '' ith a plural concept of cultures that implied pure internal homogeneity and pure external heterogeneity. These perspectives took cultural dilkrcnccs as essentially historical and a priori based on the independent evolution of societies. By contrast. more contemporary anthropology recognizes that. within our political economy. one region remains linked to low-income agriculture and conservatism precisely because that suits the interests of a v.ealthicr and dominant region. That is to say. dilkrcnccs arc often constructed rather than merely given by history. For this reason. Miller ( Jl)95) argued that \\C should complement the concept of a priori diflcrcncc with one of a posteriori diflcrcncc. In their ethnography of Internet use. Miller and Slater (2000) refused to accept that the Internet in Trinidad \\as simply a version or a clone of'The Internet': the Internet is al\\ays a local imention by its users. Miller makes a similar argument here with respect to Faccbook in Trinidad. where the potential for gossip and scandal (and generally being nosy) is taken as showing the intrinsic 'Trinidadianess of Facehook (Miller 20 II). Within this volume. Barendrcgt provides the most explicit analysis of rclati\ ism. He slw\\ s that even quite mundane uses of digital communication such as chatting. t1irting or complaining about the government become genres quite spcci11c to Indonesia rather than cloned li01n elsewhere. While in Trinidad the emphasis is more on retained cultural difference. in Indonesia this is overlain by a\ cry deliberate attempt to create a nc\\ normativity: the usc of digital technologies based on explicit criteria such as their acceptability to Islamic strictures. This may be a response to concerns that if digital technologies are Western. then they arc likely to be the Trojan horse that brings in unacceptable cultural practices such as pornography. This produces a highly conscious filtering and transformation to remake these technologies into processes that actuall: promote rather than detract from Islamic values. Similarly. in Geismar's contribution v. e find the conscious attempt to retain cultural difference. The problem l()r museums is that homogcnil'ation can be imposed most effectively at a level we generally fail to appreciate or apprehend because it occurs within basic inliastructurc: the catalogue systems that arc used to label and order museum acquisitions. Ir aboriginal societies arc going to find indigenously appropriate forms (Thorner 20 I 0). then it may be through control over things such as the structure of archives. modes of viewing and similar logistical fundamentals that need to properly rct1cct concepts such as the Vanuatu notion of Kastom. '' hich is

points of participation

such as elections or communication amongst established activists.

Voice and the Principle of Relativism


Cultural relativism has always been another vertebra within the spine of anthropology: indeed. holism and cultural relativism arc closely connected. It is worth reiterating with respect to digital anthropology that much debate and representation of the digital is derived from the imagination of science fiction and modernism that predicts a tightly homogcni/cd global world that has lost ih prior expression of

quite distinct li01n Western historiography. The cliche of anthropology is that we assert relativism in order to develop comparative studies. ln reality. comparison is more usually an aspiration than a practice. Yet comparison is essential if we \vant to understand what can be explained by regional and parochial factors and what stands as higher-level gcncrali/ation. For example. in his contribution Postill directly compars middle-class political engagement in Australia and Malaysia. Horst and Miller\ (2006) study of mobile phones

20 !Jigilal !li71hrupolog\'
and poverty in Jamaica showed that generalizations about the usc ol'phoncs !'or entrepreneurship and finding jobs in other regions may not work fix Jamaica, where they found a rather dil'krcnt pattern of economic impact. Karanovic shows that national differences may remain important even in projects ol' global conception such as li-ce sol1warc. llcr work also demonstrates that such practices can have powerli.d transnational effects--sometimes indirectly, such as conl(mning to the dominance ol' the English language, a relatively neglected aspect ol' digital anthropology. In practice, the legacy of anthropological relativism continues through the commitment to regions and cultures otherwise neglected and the concern !'or the peoples and values ol' those regions. For Barendregt the exploitation of raw materials, the dumping or c-waste, exploitative employment practices such as body shopping, racist stereotypes within role-playing games and new f(mns ol' digital inequality are all aspects ol' our diverse digital worlds. More specifically. many anthropologists have become increasingly concerned with how to give voice to small-scale or marginalized groups that tend to he ignored in academic generalization centred on the metropolitan West. With a f'ew exceptions (Ito, Okahe and Matsuda 2005: Perticrra et al. 2002). most of the early work on digital media and technology privileged economically advantaged areas ol' North America and Europe. Ignoring a global demography where most people actually live in rural India and China rather than in New York and Paris, the theoretical insights and developments emerging !'rom this empirical base then reflect North American and Northern European imaginations about the world and. if perpetuated. become a l'orm of cultural dominance. As digital anthropology becomes mon: established, we hope to sec studies and ethnographies that are more aligned with the actual demographics and realities ol' our world. As Tacchi notes, it is line to pontificate about giving voice, hut dominant groups often li1iled to engage with the very concept ol' voice and. as a result. failed to appreciate that voice was as much about people being prepared to Iis ten and change as a result ol' what they heard as about giving people the technologies to speak. It is only through others listening that voice acquires value, and this requires a radical shili !'rom vertical to horizontal relationships. as exemplified by the case studies that Tacchi has been involved in over many years. The meaning of the word I'Oice is even more literally a point ol' engagement for Ginsburg. In some cases. digital technologies are what enables physical actions to be turned into audible v oiec. For some who have autism. the conventional frame ol' voice in
I~Jcc-to-l~tce

The /)igilit! und !he 1/umon 21


technologies ( Madianou and Miller 20 II: Panagakos and Horst ~()()(): Wall is ~OOX ). One version ,lf these discussions has pinltcd around the concept of indigeneity (Ginsburg 200:-1: Landzclius 2006: for an important precedent. see Turner 199~). Where indigenous signified merely unchanging tradition. then the digital\\ ould ha\ e to be regarded as destructive and inauthentic. But today \\ e recogni/e that to be termed indigenous is a modern construction and is constantly subject to change. We arc then able to recognize the creative usage by all groups. howe\ er marginal or deprived. At the other end of the scale arc anthropologists such as DeNicola. \\llO recognize that today it may be science in China or South Asia that represents the cutting edge in, ti.Jr example, the interpretation of digital satellite imagery or the design and development of sol tv\ at-e (DeNicola 2006 ). This leads to the question of the \oice of the (digital) anthropologist. Dra;in shows how ethnographers involv cd in design arc also used to gi\ e \ oicc to the\\ ider public, such as Irish bus passengers. and increasingly that public finds ways of being more directly imolved. The problem. however. is that this is quite often used more as a li.mn of social legitimacy than to actually redirect design. As part or the digital anthropology master's programme at Uni\ersity College London. \\e have had a series of talks by design practitioners. Many report hlm they are recruited to undertake qualitative and comparative research, but then they see the results or their studies reduced by more powerlid forces trained in economics. psychology and business studies to tive token personality types or three consumer scenarios, ti01n \\ hich all the initial cultural difference has been eliminated. Ultimately many design anthropologists report that they have been used merely to legitimate \\hat the corporation has decided to do on quite other grounds. Others IJ<t\ e used these spaces l(lr other ends.

Ambivalence and the Principle of Openness and Closure


The contradictions of openness and closure that arise in digital domains
\V

ere clear!~

exposed in Wi IIi am Dibbell's (I 993) seminal article. 'A Rape in Cyberspace. The article explores one of the earliest virtual \\ orlds \\here users could create a\ a tars. then otkn imagined as gentler. better people than the ligures they represented offline. Into this idyll steps Bungle.\\ hose superior technical skills a lim\ shim to take
0\

er

these avatars, who then engaged in unspeakable sexual practices both \\ ith themselves and others. Immediately. the participants \\hose a\ a tars had been \ iolatcd switched timn seeing cyberspace as a kind of post-Woodstock land of the liberated to desperately searching for some version of the cybcrpolice to contiont this abhorrent violation of their online selves. A theorization of this dilemma also appeared in 'The Dynamics of Nnrmati\ e Freedom, one of four gcncrali;ations about the Internet in Trinidad (Miller and Slater
2000). The Internet constantly promises nevv l(mns or openness.
V\

interaction

is itself debilitating in its distractions. Here digital technologies can be used to find a more constrained medium, within which individuals ICe I that others can hear them and they can finally come to have a sense ol' their own voice. Tacchi provides several examples that echo Amartya Sen's insistence that a cornerstone to
wcll~trc

is a people's right to determine li.lr themselves what their own

welfare should be. This may demand advocacy and pushing into the groups. such as women migrants who. as noted above, matter because of their dependence upon

hich are almost

immediately fi.)llowed by calls l()r nC\\ constraints and controls. expressing our more

22 [)igilal An!hropolog\
general ambivalence towards the experience of li-ccdom. Perhaps the most sustained debate has been with regard to the rears of parents over their children\ exposure to such unrestricted worlds, rcllcctcd in the title ofhoyd's (2006) 'Facchook's "Privacy Trainwrcck"', and the work of Sonia Livingstone (200l)) on children's usc of the Internet (Horst 20 I 0 ). As DeNicola notes, the location broadcasting functions of Foursquare, Latitude and Facchook Places have been spectacularly highlighted hy sites such as PlcascRohMc.com and ICanStalkU.com. The digital came into its own at the tail end of a fashion in academia for the term

The /)igitul and !he !lumun 23


its usage. lie sees this rcali;cd through his ethnography of the \Yorkers at Linden Lab who developed Second Life ( Malaby 200l)). They retained much of the inllucncc of Jl)60s idealism found in hooks such as the II hole
t~arth

('ala log (Brand 196X:

Coleman 2004: Turner 2006) and similar lllO\ emcnts that \ ic\\ technology as a tool of liberation. They remain deeply inll:rcstcd in the unc.\pcc!L'd and unintended appropriations hy users of their designs. By setting limits upon what they \\ould construct, they hoped to engage in a kind of co-construction with users, '' ho thcmsch cs then became as much producers as consumers of the game. Many of the early adopters arc technically savvy and more inclined to do the kind of\\ ild a'h cnturous and proficient things the people at Linden Lab would appro\C or lltl\\C\CL as the game becomes more popular. consumption becomes rather less creative: for most of them this seems to involve buying clothes and other items that thousands of others ha\ c bought as well' ( Malahy 200l): 114 ). The end point is \cry C\ idcnt in Bocllstorlf\ (200X) ethnography of Second Lil'c, which eonstantly experienced the reintroduction ol'such mundane everyday life issues as worrying about property prices and the impact on this of one's neighbours. Not all designers retain these aspirations. (]ambling can also be carcl'ully designed to create a precise balance between contingency and attention-we might win. hut we need to keep on playing. Malaby quotes the rather exquisite study hy Natasha Schull or the digitization of slot machines, ''here 'digiti;ation enables engineers to mathematically adjust games' pay-out tables or rc\\ ard schedules to select for specific player prolilcs within a di\crsc market' (Schull 2005: 70). Video poker can he tuned into a kind of personalized rC\\ard machinery that maximi;cs the amount of time a payer is likely to remain on the machine. Again, this is not necessity. Malahy's own example of the Greek state-sponsored gambling game Pro- Po returns us to some sort of collusion with (]reck people's contingency in their liYcs. An analogous and extensive literature arises around the concept of the 'prosumcr' (Beer and Burrows 20 I 0), where traditional distinctions bct\Yccn producers and consumers break down as the creative potentials of consumers arc dra\Yn directly into design. For example, digital
t~tcilitics
0\\

pus/modern, which celebrated resistance to authority of all kinds but especially the
authority of discourse. (icismar concisely reveals the problems raised by such idealism . .lust opening up the museum space tended to lead to confusion amongst those not well inl(mllcd and to dominant colonization by the cognoscenti. Museums envisage democratic republics of participants, crowd curation and radical archives. This may work in small expert communities, but otherwise, as in most anarchistic practices, those with power and knowledge can quickly come to dominate. Utopian visions were rarely effective in getting people to actually engage with collections. Furthermore, concerns l(lr the indigenous usually require complex restrictions that arc in direct opposition to ideals of pure public access. An equally vast and irreconcilable debate has f(JIIowcd the evident tendency of digital technologies to create conditions i(Jr decommodification, which may give us free music downloads hut start to erode the viability of careers based on creative work. Barcndrcgt discusses the way digital technologies can exacerbate inequalities of global power, leading to exploitation. It is precisely the openness of the digital that creates !Car amongst the Indonesians that this will lc<l\e them vulnerable to further colonization hy the more open West. On the other hand. Barcndrcgt also shows how digital cultures arc used to create visions of new Islamic and Indonesian futures vvith their own versions of techno-utopias. The contradictory nature of digital openness is especially clear within Postill's chapter on politics, where there is as much evidence i(lr the way T\\ ittcr, Faccbook, WikiLcaks and AI .lazccra helped
l~tcilitatc

n sense of the place of

the Arab Spring as there is for the way

oppressive regimes in Iran and Syria usc digital technologies f(Jr the identification of activists and their subsequent suppression ( Morozov 20 II). By contrast, Post ill's ethnographic work in Malaysia is one of the clearest demonstrations of the value of an anthropological approach, not just as long-term ethnography but also its more holistic conceptualization. Instead of lahclling the political impact as good or bad, Post ill gives a nuanced and plausible account of the contradictory effects of digital technology on politics. Instead ofidcali;cd communities, we find cross-cutting attiliations of groups using the lnlcrnct to think through new possibilities. This ambivalence between openness and closure becomes even more significant when we appreciate its centrality to the initial processes of design and conception in creating digital technologies, especially those related to gaming. For Malaby, the essence of gaming is that, unlike bureaucratic control which seeks to diminish or extinguish contingency, gaming creates a structure that encourages contingency in

encourage us to make our O\\n

\\cbsitcs and blogs, populate cBay or transform MySpacc. When students first encounter the idea of digital anthropology through Wesch's (200X) infectious enthusiasm !(Jr YouTuhc, the appeal is to the consumer as the I(JITC that also largely created this same phenomenon (sec also Lange 2007). This suggests a more complex digital world where producers dclihcratcly delegate creative work to consumers and designers have little choice but to follow trends created in consumption. This ideal of a 'prosumption' that includes consumers is becoming something of a trend in contemporary capitalism (Ritzer and Jurgenson 20 I 0). Consumers appropriate commercial ideas and arc quickly incorporated in their turn (Thrill 2005) and so on. Related to prosumption is the rapid growth of an online feedback culture, such as Trip Advisor for researching holidays, Rotten Tomatoes for IT\ icwing lilms and

24 Digital Anthropologr
a thousand similar popular sources of assessment and criticism that tlourishcd as soon as digital technologies allowed them to. These have so
f~1r

The Digital und the

llulllUII

25

Materiality is thus bedrock for digital anthropology, and this is true in

SC\

era I

received

f~u

less

distinct ways, of which three arc of prime importance. hrsL there is the material it) of digital infrastructure and technology. Second, there is the materiality of digital content, and, third, there is the materiality of digital context. We started b; dclining the term digital as a state of material being, the binary
S\\

academic attention than, for example, hlogging, although they may have more Elrrcaching consequences. The tensions and cross-appropriations between new openness and closure rcallirm our first principle that the digital is dialecticaL that it retains those contradictions analysed by Simmcl ( 1971'\)
\~

itch of on or ofi 0 and 1.

Kelty's (2001'\) detailed account of the development of open source clearly illustrates how the ideal of freely creating nc\\ forms of code ''as constantly stymied by the materiality of code itself. Once one potential development of code became incompatible with another, choices had to he made \\ hich constrained the premise of entirely free and equal participation. The recent work by l3lanchcttc (20 II) is promising to emerge as a sustained enquiry into the wider materiality of some of our most basic digital technologies, especially the computer. Blanchette explicitly rejects what he calls the trope of immateriality found from Ncgropontc\ Being JJigital ( 1995) through to Blown to Bits (Abelson, Lewis and Lcdccn 2001'\). His \Vork builds, instead, upon Kirschenbaum's (2008) detailed analysis of the computer hard disk. Kirschenbaum points out the huge gulf between meta-theorists, \Yho think of the digital as a new kind of ephemerality, and a group called computer forensics,\\ hose job it is to extract data from old or broken hard disks and who rely on the \cry opposite property-- that it is actually quite diflicult to erase digital infi.mnation. Hlanchcttc proposes a more sustained approach to digital materiality focusing on issues such as layering and modularity in the basic structure of the computer. What is notable is that at this most micro level, dissecting the OO\\els of a central processing unit, we sec the same trade-ofT between specificity and abstraction that charactcriz.cd our first principle of the dialectic at the most macro lew I-\\ hat Miller ( 191'\7) called the humility of things. The more effective the digital technology, the more we tend to lose our consciousness of the digital as a material and mechanical process, evidenced in the degree to '' hich we become almost violently aware of such background mechanics only when they break down and fail us. Kirschenbaum states, computers arc unique in the history of writing technologies in that they present a premeditated material environment built and engineered to propagate an illusion of immateriality'
(2001'\: 135). Objects such as hard disks constantly produce errors but arc designed

ith regard to the impact of money. Hut as stated

in our second principle, this has always been the case. We arc not more mediated or contradictory than we used to he. Mediation and contradiction arc the defining conditions of what we call culture. The main impact of the digital has olicn been to make these contradiclions more explicit or to expose contextual issues of power, as in political control fi.Jr Post ilL parent -child relationships for llorst and empowerment and discmpowcrmcnt in Ginsburg and Tacchi. As Karanmic notes. positive developments such as free soliwarc work best when they grow beyond mere utopianism and recognize that they require many of the same forms of copyright protection and legal infrastructure as the corporate owners they oppose. After a certain point, many would sctllc for successful rcf'ormation rather than E1iled revolution. Yet, curiously, contemporary mass societies olien seem no more ready than smallscale societies to accept culture as intrinsically contradictory. Just as Evans-Pritchard
( 1937) understood the response in terms of witchcralt, so today we still find that

most people prciCr to resort to blame and assume there is human intentionality behind the negative side of these digital coins. It is much easier to talk of patriarchy or capitalism or resistance and assume these have done the job of analysis than to appreciate that a digital technology is dialectical and intrinsically contradictory; olten what we adjudicate as its good and had implications arc inseparable consequences of the same developments, although this is not intended to detract from appropriate political intervention and discernment.

Normativity and the Principle of Materiality


The final principle of materiality cycles hack to the llrst principle concerning the dialectic. A dialectical approach is premised upon a concept of culture that can only exist through objectification (Miller 191'\7). Several of the authors in this volume have been trained originally in material culture studies and have engaged with digital anthropology as an extension of such studies. As has been argued in various ways by l3ourdicu, Latour, Miller and others, rather than privilege a social anthropology that reduces the world to social relations, social order is itself premised on a material order. It is impossible to become human other than through socializing within a material world of cultural
artcl~1cts

to eliminate these befi.)re they impact on what \vc do \\ ith them. We delegate such knowledge as the syntax of a UNIX f11e to those we term "gccks', who where we find it obtrusive (Coleman 2009). Another example of this exclusion from consciousness is evident in the topic of cwastc. As with almost every other domain, the digital has contradictory implications for environmental issues. On the one hand, it increases the potential for less tangible information so that music and text can circulate without CDs and hooks, thereby removing a source of waste. Similarly, the high carbon fi.x1tprint of long-haul businessclass fights can potentially he replaced by 'ideo or we beam confcrencing. On the other hand, we arc becoming aware of a vast detritus of c-\\ astc that often contains
\\C

charac-

terize as antisocial, thereby exiling this knowledge from our ordinary social world.

that include the order, agency and relationships

between things themselves and not just their relationship to persons. Artchlcts do far more than just express human intention.

26 /)igital Anthropology
problematic or toxic materia Is that arc d i tlicult to dis pose o 1'. These arc of particular concern to anthropology since c-wastc disposal tends to follow the inequalities of global political economy. being dumped onto vulnerable and out-ol~sight areas. such as in /\!'rica (Grossman 2006: Park and Pellow 2002: Schmidt 200()) While Kelty, Kirschenbaum and Blanchette deal with the forensics of material infrastructure, chapters by Dnuin, Cicismar and Malaby reveal how design itself is a means of systematically embodying and ollcn imposing ideology. Malahy shows how, at Linden Lab. this included explicit consideration of how to incorporate the creativity offuturc users. i\s Drazin illustrates. it has taken a while for those involved to move fiom seeing the social and cultural as merely the context to technology, and instead acknowledge that they themselves arc actually the agents who attempt to realize social and cultural values as technology. In a similar way. Geismar shows how attention is moving from the representational implication of museum displays to the way the catalogue ollcn encodes ideas about social relations. Such issues remain pertinent to everyday digital goods, such as Barcndrcgt's discussion of how Islam tries to ensure that the mobile phone itself is rendered halal or religiously appropriate. This is part of a wider field of technology pcrli:m11cd as part of a system of in l()rmal cannibalization favoured by the street market rcenginccring of phones found in such peripheral ceo nom ies as Indoncsia. The second aspect of digital materiality refers not to digital technology but to the content it thereby creates, reproduces and transmits. Dourish and Mazmanian (20 II) point out that virtual worlds have made us increasingly. rather than decreasingly. aware of the materiality of inl(mmltion itscl f as a major component of such content. Coleman (20 I 0) has several references to anthropological and other examinations of the impact of digital technologies upon language and text (.Iones. Schictllin and Smith 20 II: Lange 2007, 2009). The chapter by Broadbent on the specific technologies of personal communication is clearly relevant. There are also obvious domains of visual materiality. For example Miller (2000) used Gcll's theory of art to show how wcbsitcs, just as art works. arc systematically designed to seduce and entrap some passing Internet surfers while repelling those they have no reason to attract. Similarly Horst shows how online worlds arc aesthetically integrated with the bedrooms of young people going online in Calili:m1ia, while Geismar explores the impact of digital technologies on museum display. In generaL digitaL and especially online, worlds have greatly expanded the scope of visual as well as material culture studies. Materiality applies just as much to persons as to that which they create. Rowland's (2005) ethnography of power in the Cameroon grasslands is a study of such relative materiality. i\ chief is a highly substantial and visible body. while a commoner may he only ever abk to he a partially realized, insubstantial and ollcn rather imisihlc body. A similar problem arises l()r the disabled individuals given voice here by Ginsburg. A person can be present. hut that docsn 't necessarily mean that he or she is particularly visible. The critical feature of digital technologies here is not technical:

The /)igitul and the 1/unwn 27


it is the degree to which they impact upon power. Being. material in the sense of being merely visible e<tn be transl(mncd into material in the sense of being acknm\!edged and finally respected. If you wiiii(Jrgivc the pun. fundamentally being material means coming to matter. Third. in addition to the materiality of technology and the materiality of content. there is also the materiality of context. Issues of space and place arc the central concern of DeNicola\ chapter and his discussion of 'spimcs . '' hich imply objects. and not just people's, a\\ arencss of space. This leads to a kind of Internet of things. where the digital results not just in enhanced use of absolute space. as in the Cilobal Positioning System, but increasing awareness of relative proximity. This may refer to people, such as gay men making contact through C_irindr. but also objects sensing their own relative proximity. i\s DeNicola notes, digital location awareness is not the death of space hut rather its further inscription as imlclible material position. Similarly several chapters demonstrate how what has been termed the\ irtual is more a new kind of place rather than a form of placclcssncss: for example Bocllstnrff\ work on Second Life. Horst's discussion of a f~m fiction writer navigating parents. teachers. friends and her hm fiction community of follmvcrs and Miller\ suggestion at the end of his chapter that in some ways people make their home inside social networks rather than just communicate through them arc examples of this. There is no chapter on time to complement that on space. but this \ olumc is replete with references to speed. '' hich suggests hmv important digital technologies have been in shilling our experience of time. and that. instead of creating. a timelessness. we seem to be becoming constantly more time <marc. We might also note a truism within the digitization of contemporary finance. Here digital technologies arc used to create complex instruments intended to resolve issues of risk.\\ hich simply seem to increase the experience of and exposure to risk. The example oflinancc supports DeNicola's contention following Gupta and Ferguson ( 1997) that one of the consequences of these changing forms of materialization may be the transference. or more oticn the consolidation, of power. Context rel"ers not just to space and time but also to the \ arious parameters of human interaction with digital technologies, which l(mn part or material practice. Suchman 's (2007) studies have led to a greater emphasis upon human-machine rcconfigurations that arc complemented by the whole development of human-computer interaction as an academic discipline (e.g. Dix 2004: Dourish 2004). an area discussed within Drazin \contribution. Several chapters deal with another aspect of interaction that Broadbent calls attention. i\ good deal of contemporary digital technologies arc. in essence, attention-seeking mechanisms. partly because one of the most common cliches about the digital world is that it prolil"crates the amount of things competing for our attention so any given medium must. as it \\Crc. try still harder. Broadbent notes that some personal media such as the telephone require immediate attention. while others such as Faccbook arc less demanding. Malaby's chapter has many references to the attention-attracting and -maintaining capacity of games.

28 Digital A nthropologv
Finally, although this section has concentrated on the principle of materiality, it also started with Blanchette's and Kirschenbaum's observations of how digital forms arc used to propagate an illusion of the immaterial, a point central to Bocllstorlf's discussion of the concept of the virtual hut evident in fields as diverse as politics and communication. But then, as MacKenzie notes in his excellent hook on the materiality of modern tinancc with regard to new financial instruments, 'we should not simply he 1~1scinatcd hy the virtual quality of derivatives, hut need to investigate how that virtuality is materially produced' (MacKenzie 2009: R4 ). It is hecausc technologies arc constantly finding new ways to construct illusions of immateriality that a material culture perspective hccomcs ever more important. Of all the consequences of this illusion of immateriality, the most important remains the way ohjccts and technologies ohfuscatc their own role in our socialization. From the infrastructure hchind computers to that hchind finance, games, design or museum catalogues, we seem less and less aware of how our environment is materially structured and that creates us as human hcings. The reason this matters is that it extends Bourdicu\ ( 1977) critical argument ahout the role of practical taxonomies in making us the particular kinds of people we arc, who subsequently take for granted most of what we call culture. Bourdieu showed how a major part of what makes us human is what he called practice-a conjuncture of the material with the socialization of hahit, which makes the cultural world appear as second nature, which is natural. This is hcst captured hy the academic concept of normativity. To end this introduction on the topic of normativity is to expose the single most profound and fundamental reason why attempts to understand the digital world in the ahscnce of anthropology arc likely to h~: lacking. On the on~: hand, we can h~: !ell slack-jawed at the sheer dynamics of change. Ev~:ry day we share our amazement at the new: a smarter smartphonc, the clear wchcam chat to our friend in China, the uses of l"ccdhack culture, the creativity of 4chan, which gave rise to the more anarchist idealism of Anonymous in the political sphcr~:. Put togdh~:r we have th~: impression of hcing immersed in som~: Brave New World that wash~:d over us within a couple of decades. All these Lkvclopmcnts ar~: well covered hy other disciplines. Yd, perhaps the most astonishing l"cature of digital ~:ulturc is not this speed of technical innovation hut rather th~: speed hy which society takes all of these for granted and ueates normative conditions t(lr their usc. Within months, a new capacity h~:comes assumed to such a degr~:~: that, when it hr~:aks down, we t"cd we have lost hoth a hasic human right and a valued prosthetic arm of who we now arc as humans. Central to normativity is not just acceptance hut moral incorporation (Silverstone, Hirsch and Morley 1992 ). Again the speed can seem hr~:athtaking. Somehow in those t"cw months we know what is proper and not proper in posting online, writing in an e-maiL appearing on wehcam. There may he a short mom~:nt of uncertainty. Gershon (20 I 0) suggests this with regard to the issue of what media within polymcdia we arc supposed to usc to dump a boyfriend or girlfriend. But in the Philippines, Madianou and Miller (20 II) f(lllnd that this more collective society tended to impose normativity upon new f(mns of communication almost instantly. lniKr case studies of new media

The /)igital and ti!C /Iuman 29


casil~

technologies in the home, Horst also siHl\\ show quickly and

digital technolo-

gies arc literally domesticated as normati\c. One ofthc main impacts then of digital anthropology is to rdain the insights ol' Bourdicu as to the \\ ay mat~:rial culture socializes into hahitus. But instead of assuming this only occurs \\ ithin long-term customary orders of things given by history, \\C recognize that the same processes can be remarkably clkcti\ c when telescoped into a couple of years. We would thcrcl(1rc suggest that the key to digital anthropology, and perhaps to the future of anthropology itsciL is, in parL the study of ho\\ things become rapidly mundane. What we cxp~:ricncc is not a technology per sc but an immediately cultural inflected genre of usage. A laptop, an archi\ c, a process of design. a Facchook page, an agreement to share locational information none of these can he disaggrcgat~:d into their material as against their cultural aspects. They arc integral combinations hascd on an emergent aesthetic that is a normatiYc consensus around how a particular t(mll should he used, \\ hich in turn constitutes \\hat that then is what \\C will recognize as an e-maiL \\'hat
\\C

agree constitutes design,

what have become the two accepted \\ays of using \\Cbcam. The \\on! genre implies a combination of acceptability that is simultaneously moraL aesthetic and practical (see also Ito ct al. 20 I 0). Normativity can he opprcssi\c. In Ciinshurg's pm\erli.il opening example, the disabled activist Amanda Baggs makes clear that digital technologies have the capacity to make someone appear vastly mmT human than before. but the catch is that this is only to the degree that the disahled usc these tcclmologics to conform to \\hat\\ c regard as normatively human, !'or example performing that key process of att~:ntion in what arc seen as appropriate ways. This direct confiontation bct\\CCn the digital and the human is what helps us understand the task of digital anthropology. Anthropology stands in direct repudiation of the claims of psychologists and digital gurus that any of these digital transt(mnations represents a change in either our cogniti\ e capacities or the essence of hcing human-thus the title of this introductory chapter. Being human is a cultural and normative concept. As our second principk shm\ cd, it is our definition of being human that mediates \\'hat the technology is. not the other '' ay around. Technology may in turn be employed to help shill our conceptualization of being human, which is what Ginsburg's digital activist is trying to accomplish. Th~: anthropological apprehension is to refuse to allm\ the digital to he \iC\\Cd as a gimmick or, indeed, as mere technology. A key moment in the recent history of anthropology came with Tcr~:nc~: Turner\ ( 1992) report on the pmvcrti.il appropriation of viLko by an Amazonian Indian group, the Kayapo, in their resistance to foreign infiltration (see also Boyer 2006). It was the moment \\hen anthropology had to drop its presumption that trihal societies were intrinsically shm or passive,'' hat Levi-Strauss called cold. Under the right conditions, they could transl(mn '' ithin the space of a years into canny, worldly and technically proficient activists, just as

re,,

people in other kinds of society. Prior to this moment, anthropology remained in the thrall of associations of custom and tradition, "hich presumed that anthropology \\Ould become less

J() Uigilal AnlhroJIO!og\'

Jhc l>igilul and !he !Iuman J I

relevant as the speed of change in our material environment gre\\ apace \\ ith the achent of the digital. But \lith this last point regarding the pace ofnormati1e impositions, we see why the very opposite is true. The l~1stcr the trajectory of cultural change. the more relevant the anthropologist. because there is absolutely no sign that the changes in technology are outstripping the human capacity to regard things as normative. Anthropology is one of the few disciplines equipped to immerse itsel r in the process by which digital culture becomes normati\ e culture and to understand what this tells has barely begun.
LIS

13oellstoriT. T. 200X. Coming of.lgc in S'ccond !.if(>. Princeton. 1\:.J: Princeton Lniversity Press. Rourdicu. P. 1977. Ou!linc ofa Thmn o/f'ruclicc. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni\crsity Press. boyd. d. 2006. Faccbook's 'Pri\acy Traimneck': l:.,posurc. ln\asion. and Drama.

;lpophcnia 8/og. X September. http:.

\\\I\\

.danah.org;papcrs FaccbookAndPri

about being human. The lesson or the digital for

\ acy.html. boyd, d., and K. Crawford. 20 II. Six l'mmculions for Hig /)ufu. Paper presented at the Oxl(mllnternct Institute Decade in Internet Time Symposium. 22 September. http://\\ ww.scribd.com/doc/6521513 7/6- Pnl\ ocations-l(n- Big- Data. Boyer. D. 2006. Turner's Anthropology of Media and Its Legacies. ( 'rililfiiC oj.ln-

anthropology is that, l~1r from making us obsolete. the story that is anthropology

!hmpolog\' 26: 4 7 60.

Acknowledgements
Thanks to Stel~ma Broadbent, Haidy Geismar. Keith Hart, Webb Keane. Wallis Motta, Dan Perkel, Kathleen Richardson. Christo Sims and Richard Wilk for comments on a drali of this chapter.

Brand. S. 196X. Whole l:'anh Ca!alog. Pub] ishcd by S. Brand. Broadbent, S. 2011. L 'fnlimi/(; au Tru1uil. Paris: Fyp Editions. Cassidy. J. 2002. Dol.con. London: Allen Lane. Coleman. G. 2004. The Political Agnosticism or Free and Open Source Soli\\ arc and the Inadvertent Politics of Contrast. .ln!hmf)(J/ogical {}uurtcrlr 77: 507-19. Coleman. G. 2009. The llacker Conference: A Ritual Condensation and Celebration ora Lifcworld. Alllhmpologiml Quwfcrlr X3( I): -+2 72. Coleman. Ci. 20 I 0. Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media . . lnnual Rc1int' of

Notes
1. 2. All references to authors within this book are to their contribution within this volume unless stated otherwise. See also Keith II art's website: http://thememorybank.eo.uk/papers/. At the methodological level, holism represents a commitment to understanding the broader context and the integration of the various institutions into an analysis. Theoretically, holism is associated with structural functionalism. which held that certain phenomenon in society (e.g. kinship or houses) represent the whole.

Alllhropologr 39: 4X7 505. DeNicola, L. 2006. The Bundling ofGeospatiallnl(mnation \\ith E\eryday Experience. In S'ti/Teillance and Sccurilr: JL'chnological l'olilics und l'mt'cl' in I:-\.CITday Ufi-', ed. T. Monahan, 243-64. London: Routledge. DibbeiL .1. 1993. A Rape in Cyberspace. The l'i/lagc l(Jicc. 21 December. 36-42. Dibbcll, J. 2006. !'far ,Honer. Ne\\ York: Basic Books. Dibbcll. J. 2007. The Life or a Chinese Gold Farmer. \c11 lurk Times .\!oga::inc. 17 June. 200. Di:x. A. 200-t. !Iuman ( 'ompu!er ln/eroclion. llarllm: Pearson hlucation. Donner, .1. 200X. Research Approaches to Mobile Usc in the De\ eloping World: A Re1icw ofthc Literature. The ln(imnalion Socic/1' 24(3): I-tO 59.

3.

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U/i.', Lihcrlr and

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Horst H .. and D. Miller. 2006. The Cell Phone: An.lnthmeologr oj( 'omnumication. Oxford: Berg. Humphrey, C. 2009. The Mask and the Face: Imagination and Social Life in Russian Chat Rooms and Beyond. lc.thnos 74: 31 -50. Ito. M .. S. Baumer. M. Bittanti, d. boyd. R. Cody. B. Herr-Stephenson. II. Horst P. Lange, D. Mahcndran, K. Martinez. C. Pascoe. D. PcrkcL L. Robinson. C. Sims and L. Tripp, eds. 20 I 0. Hanging Out. Messing Amund. Gccking Out: Uting and Learning ttith /Vetr A1edia. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Ito, M., D. Okabc and M. Matsuda. 2005. Personal. J>ortahle. l'ede.1trian: The .\lohilc Phone in Japanese Lifi'. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press . .Jones, G., 13. Schicfllin and R. Smith. 2011. When Friends Who Talk Together Stalk Together: Online Gossip as Mctacommunication. In Digital Discmrrse: Language in the Nc\\' Media, ed. C. Thurlow and K. Mroczek. 26 47. Oxford: Oxford University Press. Jones. S., ed. 199X. C\'hersocict\' ].!J. London: Sage. Juris, .J. S. 200X. Netmwking Futures. Durham. NC: Duke Uni\crsity Press. Karanovic, J. 200X. Sharing Puhlics: !Jcmocracr, CoOJWratioll. and Free Sojitmrc Ad\'()cacv in France. PhD diss. New York University. Kelty, C. 200X. Tm1 Bits: The Cultural Signi/imncc o/Frce Sofhmrc. Durham. NC: Duke University Press. Kirschenbaum, M. 200X . .'v!eclwnisms: 1\ietr .t!cdia a11d the Forensic lnwgination. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Landzclius, K. 2006. Natin' on the Ne!: Indigenous and Diil.lporic J>coph's in the Virtual Age. London: Routledge. Lange, P. G. 2007. Publicly Private and Privately Public: Social Nct\\orking: on YouTube . .Journal of' Computer-Mediated Communimtion 13( I): article I X. http:i/ jcmc.indiana.edu/vol13/issuc I /lange.html. Lange. P. G. 2009. Conversational Morality and Information Circulation: How Tacit Notions About Good and Evil Influence Knowledge Exchange. Human 0Jgani::ation 6X(2): 21 X 29. Lewis. M. 19X9. Liar :v l'okc1: London: Hodder and Stoughton. Lindholm, C. 2007. Culture and Authenticitr. Oxford: Blackwell. Livingstone. S. 2009. Children and the lntemet. Cambridge: Polity Press. MacKenzie, D. 2009. Material it4arkcts: /hi\\' Fconomic Agents ..Ire Conlll'lrctcd Oxford: Oxford University Press. Madianou, M ., and D. Miller. 20 II. Mig rat ion ami Nnr .\ fcdia: Transnational Families and Pol\'media. London: Routledge. Malaby. T. 2009. A1aking Virtual Worlds: Unden l"ah and Second Liji. Ithaca. NY: Cornell University Press. ManueL P. 1993. Cassette Culture. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Maurer. W. Forthcoming. Mobile Money: Private Sector and Philanthropic Interests in the Payments Space . .Journal o/Detelopmci71 Studies.

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Meyer, B. 200X. Religion Sensations: Why Media. Aesthetics and Power Matter in the Study of Contemporary Religion. In Religion: /Jerond u Conn'JJI, cd. H. de Vries, 704 23. New York: Fordham University Press. Meyer, B. 20 II. Mediation and Immediacy: Sensational Forms, Semiotic Ideologies and the Question of the Medium. Sociu/ AnthroJJo/ogr 19: 23--39. Miller, D. 19X7. ivfuteria/ ( 'u/ture und ,-Huss Consumption. Oxford: Blackwell. Miller, D. 1995. Introduction. In /1(!1-/ds Apart. cd. D. Miller, I 22. London: Routledge. Miller, D. 2000. The Fame ofTrinis: Wcbsitcs as Traps. Joumu/ ojA!utcria/ Culture 5: 5 24. Miller, D. 2007. What Is a Relationship. l:'thnos 72(4): 535 54. Miller, D. 200X. The Comfiwt ofThings. Cambridge: Polity Press. Miller, D. 20 II. Tulesfiw11 Facehook. Cambridge: Polity Press. Miller. D., and D. Slater. 2000. The Internet: An l:'!lmogruphic Approach. Oxford: Berg. Morawczynski, 0. 2007. Surviving in the 'Dual System': llow MPESA Is Fostering Urban-to-Rural Remittances in a Kenyan Slum. Mss. Department of Anthropology, University of Edinburgh. Morozov, E. 20 II. The Nc! Delusion. London: Allen Lane. Munn, N. 1973. Wu/hiri lconugraphr. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Myers, F. 19X6. l'intupi Countrr. f'intupi Self. Washington. DC: Smithsonian Institution Press. Nafus, D., J. Leach, and B. Krieger. 2006. Gender: Integrated Report of Findings. Frcc/Librc and Open Source Software: Policy Support (FLOSS POLS), no. D 16. http://www. llosspo Is.org/ de Iivera bles. php. Nardi. B., and Y. M. Kow. 20 I 0. Digital Imaginaries: llov. We Know What We (Think We) Know about Chinese Gold Farming. First Mondar 15(6 7). Ncgropontc, N. 1995. Being !Jigitu/. New York: Knopf. Panagakos, A., and II. I forst, cds. 2006. Return to Cybcria: Technology and the Social Worlds of Transnational Migrants. Special issue. G/uha/ Net11orks 6. Park, L., and D. Pellow. 2002. Silicon Valier of' Dreams: Immigrant louhr!l: Emironmenta/ Injustice. and the 1/igh Tech G/uha/ !:'cunumr. New York: New York University Press. Parks, M. 20 II. Social Network Sites as Virtual Communities. In A Net\\orkcd Self; ed. Z. Papacharissi, I 05--23. London: Routledge. Parrcnas, R. 2005. Children ujG/uha/ Migration: Transnational Families and Cendered Wries. Stanl(ml, CA: Stanford University Press. Pcrticrra. R., E. Ugarte, A. PingoL J. Hernandez and N. Dacanay. 2002. TXT-lNG Selves: Ce//phones und Phi/if!J!ine Mudernit1. Manila: De La Salle University Press. Postill, J. 200X. Localizing the Internet Beyond Communities and Networks. 1\/Cir Media Sucietr I 0: 413. Rowland, M. 2005. A Materialist Approach to Materiality. In ivfuteria/itr, cd. D. Miller, 72 X7. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

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Part II Positioning Digital Anthropology

-2Rethinking Digital Anthropology


Tom Boellshnjf'

If then: is to be such a thing as digital anthropolog;. \\L' must cardully consider both component terms constituting that promising phrase. In this chapter I respond to a staggering analytical imbalance:\\ hik anthropology has lung been subjected to forms of critique postcolonial. rdk:-;i\c and poststructuralist. among others tn date the notion of the digital has been met by a profnund thcordical silence. For the most part. as I ha\ c noted else\\ here. it 'dues lillie more than stand in for "computational" or "c lcdronic ... ( 11ocllstoriT 20 II : :'i 1-+). lim\ C\ cr. i r d igita I is hut a placeholder. simply marking interest in that \\hich you plug in to run or recharge. the enterprise of digital anthropology is doomed to adjecti\ al irrclc\ a nee tim11 the outsci. Technology is now ubiquitous '' orld\\ ide. and rc,,. if an). future field'' ork projcds could ncr constitute 'ethnography unplugged'. If digital is nothing more than a synonym ror Internet-mediated. then all anthropology is 110\\ digital anthropnlogy in some \\H)', shape or l(mll. Should \\c a lim\ In take ron! a conception or digital anthropology founded in an uninformed notion or the digital. '' c thus short-circuit our ability to crali research agendas and theoretical paradigms capable or grappling clkctivcly \\ith emerging articulations oftcchnolog) and culture. This highly consequential project of rethinking the digital '' ith regard to digital anthropology is my analytical goal in this chapter. In Part I. I begin by addressing an issue with roundational implications I(Jr \\hat '' c take digital anthropology to mean: the rclationsh ip bct\\ccn the\ irtua I (the on! inc) and the actua I (the physica lnr oltl inc). This relation has pi\olal ontological. epistemological and political consequences: it determines\\ hat'' c take the\ irtualto be.'' hat'' c take kno\\ ledge about the' irtualto entail and\\ hal we understand as the stakes or the\ irtuall(lr social justice. I focus on the greatest ncgati\C ramificationoranundcrthcori;cd notion or the digital: the mistaken bclidthal the\ irtual and the actual arc rusing into a single domain. In Part 2. I engage in the classic anthropological practice or close ethnographic analysis. through case studies dra\\n li0111 1\\o early days or my research in the' irtual \\orld Second Lite. lnl'art3,11ink the theoretical discussion orl'art I \\ith the ethnographic discussion or Part 2 another classical anthropological practice. that of 'tackling 1 bet\\ CC!l the most local of local detail and the most global of global structure in such a\\ ay as to bring them into simultaneous' ic\\ (Ciccrll 19~3: (l~).
1

3fJ

40

/)igital /lnthm;wlogr

Rethinking /)igilol.lnthro;)(J/og\

-H

The linchpin ol' my analysis\\ ill he an argument !'or treating the digital not as an object ol' study, but as a methodological approach, jii/lndcd in ;wrtici;wnt ohscrl'iltion, l(lr investigating the\ irtual and its relationship to the actual. I tlH:reby suggest that digital anthropology is not analo)!OUS to, say, medical anthropology or legal anthropology. The parallel to these would be virtual anthropology (Boellstor!T200X:
6) ). Digital anthropolo)!y is a technique, and thus a domain ol' study only indirectly.

nicely summed up this perspective\\ hen noting that.\\ ith regard to rc~carch on\ irtual worlds. "the bulk orthis work. !10\\C\cr. continues to conround sharp boundaries between off-line and online contexts' (Coleman 20 I 0: -1-92 ). Coleman's phrasing captured the sense that "sharp boundaries' are to be a\oided that they are scholarly conceits that l~1lscly ~eparate online and ollline contexts rather than ontologically consequential gaps that constitute the online and olllinc. In L1ct. these sharp boundaries are real. and thcrcl(lre vital topics l(n anthropological inquiry. While less evident in this particular quotation. the sense that one can no longer sec the online and olllinc as separate- despite the ob\ ious li1et that they are. depending on how you define 'separate' encodes a historical narrati\ e that moves !i01n separation to blurring or IL1sion. Such presumptions of an impending con\ crgcncc bct\\Ccn the virtual and actual miseharacterizc the carel[d \\ ork of earlier ethnographers of the online.' For instance. Viii Lehdonvirta has claimed that much\ irtual-\\ orld scholarship is 'based on a dichotomous "real-virtual" pcrspccti\ c ( Lehdom irta 20 I 0: 2).' He could sustain this view that scholars have detached\ irtual worlds limn "the rest of society (2) only through a sociology of the obvious noting. l(lr instance. that players of an online game like World of Warcrall ollcn seek to play with persons 'based on the continent and time zone in which they reside' (2). as if World of Warcrall researchers \\ere not aware ofthis f~1ct. Lehdonvirta correctly concluded that 'scholars should place [virtual worlds] side-by-side with spheres of activity such as llunily, \\ ork or go! L approaching them using the same conceptual tools' (2) and that "the point is not to gi\ e up on boundaries altogether and let research lose its lixus. but to avoid dnm ing artilicial boundaries based on technological distinctions' ( 9). What needs questioning is Lchdom irta \ assumption that virtual worlds arc artificial boundaries,\\ hilc spheres or activity such as Ji:unily, work or golf arc somehow not artificial.'' ;\t issue is that tcehnological distinctions arc central to the human condition: artilice. the act of craliing. is a quintessentially human endeavour. To presume otherwise sets the stage l(lr the 'principle of L1lse authenticity', which, as Miller and Horst note, occludes the ll~et that 'people arc not one iota more mediated by the rise of digital technologies' (this \olume: 11--12). Thus. the most signilicant danger lies not in seholarly misrepresentation but in the three-part narrative of movement embedded in these concerns over authenticity. dichotomies and blurring: an originary separation. a coming together and a reunification. This narrative is a teleology insoli:1r as there is a defining endpoint: the impend-

It is an approach to researchin)! the virtual that permits addressing that object ol' study in its 0\\n terms (in other words, not as merely deri\ative ol'the olllineL while keeping in l(lcus how those terms always im oh e the direct and indirect\\ ays online sociality points at the physical world and \ice \ ersa. Crucially. it is predicated on participant observation. ;\n alarm in)! number or researchers or the online claim to do ethnography\\ hen their methods invol\ e in ten ie\\ ing in isolation or in conjunction with other elicitation methods, such as a survey. But while such elicitation methods can produce valuable data, a research project using onh such elicitation methods is not ethnographic (though it may he qualitative). Just saying somethin)! is ethnographic does not make it so. In short. while some will likely equate digital anthropolo)!y \\ ith \irtual anthropology, I here wish to consider a more l(lcused conception. one inspired by originary meanings or the digital and that olkrs specilic methodological benclits l(lr studying online culture. To roreshadm\ the crux or my argument. I develop a notion of the digital that hearkens back to its original meaning or digits on a hand.' Rather than a difruse notion or the digital as that which is merely electronic or online, this opens the door to a radically more robust conceptual liamework that contains two key elements. The first is a i(lundational appreciation l(n the constitutive role or the gap between the virtual and actual (like the gaps between 'digits on a hand). This resonates with the dialectical understanding or the digital developed by Miller and Horst in their introduction to this volume. The second element or this digital tiamcv\ ork, dnm ing rrom the etymology or indc.r as 'l(lrcfingcr'. is a whole set of theoretical resources for understanding the indc.rical relationships that constantly co-constitute both the virtual and actual. I thus push tO\\ ard an indexical theory l(lr understanding hm\ the\ irtual and the actual point' at each other in social practice.

Part I: Challenging the Notion of Blurring


Bcl(lre turning to this theory or digital anthropology and the ethnographic encounters that inspired iL it is imperative to lirst identify the core problem to \\hich a more carefully articulated notion or digital anthropology can respond. This is the idea that we can no longer treat the virtual and the physical as distinct or separate. It lies beyond the scope or this chapter to catalogue examples of scholars liaming the study orthc online in this manner. as this is not a review essay or c\cn a critique as such.' In her insight lid
0\ Cr\

ing nonscparation of the virtual and the actual. olicn presented in the apocalyptic language of'thc end ofthe virtual/real divide' (Rogers 2009: 29). Indeed. such contentions of an end times represent not just a teleology but a theology- because they so often appear as articles of fi1ith \v ith no supporting C\ idcncc. and because they resemble nothing so much as the Christian metaphysics or incarnation. or an original separation of God !rom Man in Eden resolved in the Word made llcsh (13edos-Rczak 20 II).- This speaks to pervasive .ludco-Christian assumptions of 'the antagonistic dualism

or llcsh and spirit" that have strongly shaped dominant

rorms or social in-

icw of the ethnography or digital media. E. Gabriella Coleman

quiry (Sahlins 1996: 400).

42 Digital Anthmj!ologr

Rethinking /)igilal. lnthm;Jo/ogr -13


as Western gay men. 1 found such a resource from the kind of unexpected quarter one ollcn discovers via an ethnographic approach. !learned that the Indonesian state had tried to ban the dubbing of foreign television shm\ sand mm ics into the Indonesian language with the justification that to sec 'Sharon Stone speak 1ndoncsian \\ ould cause Indonesians to lose the ability to tell \\here their culture ended and Western culture began (Octomo 1097: sec l3ocllstorfT2005). What is interesting about dubbing is its explicit predication on meaning-making across a gap. In a dubbed movie say. an Italian mo\ ic dubbed into Japanese-the moving lips of the Italian actors ''ill nc\ cr exactly match the Japanese \ oiccs. Yet no members of an audience \\ill leave the theatre because ofthis mismatch: it is expected. not a htilurc so long as the lips and\ oiccs arc close enough in synch so that understanding can take placc. Inspired by these antitclcological implications. 1 developed a notion of 'dubbing culture to avoid a narrative in \\ hich Western gay identity represented the assumed endpoint for homoscxualitics \\orkhvide. Indonesian gay men dub Western gay sexualities. They arc pcr!Cctly <marc that the Indonesian term gar is shaped by the English term gar. yet they arc also pcr!Cctly <marc that their subjcctivities arc not merely dcri\ ati\ c of the West. The notion of dubbing culture helped me a\ oid assuming that Indonesian and Western sexualities \\ere com crging or blurring and underscored lum all scmiosis involves movement across gaps. Similarly. extending the notion of the digital can help avoid any assumption that the \ irtual and actual arc con\ crging or blurring. 11 In Part 3. I discuss what such a rethought notion or the digital might entail and hm\. for such a rethinking to apply to digital anthm;)()/ogr. questions of theory cannot he divorced fimn questions of method. In Part 2. I turn to t\\O case studies: 1 \\ a!lt the trajectory or this argument to rctkct hm\ my thinking has emerged through etlmographic engagement. This is not a detour. digression or mere illustration: a hallmark of anthropological inquiry is taking ethnographic\\ ork as a means to de\ clop theory. not just data in service of preconceived paradigms.
1 "

Without cataloguing further examples or these narratives that the online and ofTline arc becoming blurred, it is important to note their persistence despite the f~tcl that this transcendental understanding of the \ irtual is clearly \\TOng: the virtual is as profane as the physical, as both arc constituted 'digitally' in their mutual relationship. This language of f'usion undermines the project of digital anthropology: it is an eschatological narrative. invoking an end times when the virtual\\ ill cease to he. This recalls how some scholars or the online seem unable to stop referring to the physical as the 'real'. even though such inaccurate phrasing implies that the online is unrcal--delcgitimi/ing their field or study and ignoring hm\ the\ irtual is immanent to the human. The persistence or such misrepresentations underscores the urgent need for rethinking digital anthropology. Some readers may have rccogni/cd the homage at play in my phrase 'rethinking digital anthropology'.' In 1061. the eminent British anthropologist Fdmund Leach published the essay 'Rethinking Anthropology. In it. he chose a fascinating analogy to justify anthropological genera Ii/ations: Our task is to understand and explain what goes on in socicty. how societies work. Ir an engineer tries to explain to you how a digital computer works he doesn't spend his time classifying different kinds or nuts and bolts. I k concerns himself with principles. not with things. I k writes out his argument as a mathematical equation or the utmost 1: Iii IO ... Ithe principle is thatl comsimplicity. somewhat on the lines of: Oil puters embody their information in a code which is transmitted in pPsitivc and negative impulses denoted by the digital symbols 0 and I. (!.each 1961: 6 7) Leach could have not have predicted the technological transf'ormations that now make digital anthropology possible. Nonetheless. we can draw two prescient insights rrom his analysis. First . .\0 years alicr Bronislaw Malinowski established in A1gonauts of the Western h!Ci/ic that 'the essential core or social anthropology is fieldwork' (Leach 1%1: 1: sec Malinowski 1022). Leach cmphasi/.cd that anthropologists must attend to the 'principles' shaping everyday liiC. Second. to illustrate these principles. Leach noted the centrality of gaps to the digital: even a computer of nuts and bolts depends on the distinction between 0 and 1. Leach s observations anticipate my own argument. The persistence of narratives bemoaning the distinction between the physical and the online miss the point literally 'miss the point'. as my discussion ofindcxicality in Part.\ will demonstrate. The idea that the online and online could fuse makes as much sense as a semiotics whose followers would anticipate the collapsing of the gap between sign and referent, imagining a day when words would be the same thing as that which they denote.'' Clearly. we need a range of conceptual resources to theorize traffic across constitutive gaps: allow me to provide an example from my research on sexuality. In my studies of men who usc the Indonesian term gar to describe their sexualities. I sought a framework that would not lead me to presume these men were becoming the same

Part 2: Two Days in My Early Second Life


Gi\ en the scope of this chapter. I cannot devote much space to background on Second Lifc. Briefly, Second Life is a virtual world-a place ofhuman culture rcali/cd by a computer programme through the Internet. In a virtual \\orki. you typically ha\c an avatar body and can interact with other persons around the globe \\ ho arc logged in at the same time: the virtual world remains c\ en as individuals shut their computers of{ because it is housed in the 'cloud'. on remote scncrs. When 1 first joined Second Life on .\ June 2004, residents paid a monthly fcc and were provided a small plot of virtual land. In February 2005. I sold the land 1 had been initially allocated and mo\ cd to another area. Hm\ C\ cr. at the time 1 \\rite this chapter in 2011. to get myself into an ethnographic frame of mind. in another
1 '

44 /)igital A nthropologr

Rdhinking /)igitul.lnthmJJO/ogr 45

Figure 2.1.

I he land\\ here my lirst home in Second !.iii: once stood.

Figun 2.2.

\t rest in the\ irtual tree.

window on my computer l have gone into Second Li l"e and teleported back to the exact plot of virtual land where my original home once stood in 2004. At this moment--late morning according to my California lime -there arc no avatars nearby. The large house that once stood here. my first cxpcrim.:nt at building in Second Life. disappeared long ago. and nary a \irtual nail remains of my prior labour. But looking at my old land's little patch of coastline. I think I can still make out the remnants of my tcrrafonning. my work to gel the beach to slope into the water just so. in order to line up with the view of the distant shore to the cast. Even in virtual worlds. traces of history endure (Figure 2.1 ). The current owners of my onetime virtual homestead have not built a new house to replace the one I once cralicd: instead. they have made the area into a wooded parkland. To one side. s\\ ings rock to and fro with automated animations. as if bearing unseen children. On the other side. at the \\aler's edge, a dock invites repose. In the centre, ncar where the living room of my old home was located, there now stands a great tree. unlike any I have ever seen in Second Life. Its long branches slope gracefully up toward the bright blue virtual sky. One branch, however. snakes out hori:tontally for some distance: it contains an animation allowing one's avatar to stretch out. arms folded behind one's head and feel swinging in the digital breeze. So here on this branch. where my first Second Life home once stood, my virtual self will sit as I reflect on those first days of virtual fieldwork (Figure 2.2 ). In what follows, I recount hitherto unpublished llcllhvork excerpts from two concurrent days early in my research. (Second Lilt; at this time had only text communication. which I have edited l(lr concision. ;\sis usual in ethnographic writing. to protect

conlidcntiality all names arc pseudonyms.) None of these interact ions'' ere note\\ orthy: it is unlikely anyone else bothered to record them. Yet in each case I encountered traces of broader meaning that point toward rethinking digital anthropolog!.

/Ja\' I: A Slow /Janccj(w Science


i\1 12:21-1 p.m. on 30 .June 2004. I \\alkcd into my home ol1icc in Long Beach. California. and turned on my computer. I rcucd' (that is. my a\ alar appeared) in Second Lire in my recently constructed house. right where my a\ alar'' ill sit in a tree sc\cn years later as I write this narrative. But on this day. only a month into fieldwork, I left my virtual home and telcportcd to a dance club at the suggestion of Susan. who\\ as already at the club with her tiicnds Sam. Richard and Bccca. At this point Second Life was quite small and there \\ere only a
l'c\\

clubs. i\t this club

the ICaturcd attraction was icc skating: the club had been decked out\\ ith a rink. and icc skates \\ere available on the walls to attach to your avatar. In l~1ct you bought the skates and they appeared in a box: if you did not kmm hmv to do things correctly. you \\ould end up \\Caring the box on your head. not the skates on your feel. :\1osl residents were new to the\ irtual \\orld's workings: Susan \\as ha\ ing a hard time getting her skates to work. and Sam and Richard \\ere helping as best they could: Sam: Sam: Susan. take them off your head lot !laugh out loud I put them onto the ground

46 Digitul Anthm;wlogr
Susan: Susan: Susan: Richard: Richard: Richard: Susan: Richard: thanks hchc, I'm new to thi~ game have I got them on' 1 click on the hox on your head and choose edit then click the 'more' hutton then 'content' and you'll sec them I have the skatcson ... I think I do anyway she has the hox on her head

RL'Ihinking /)igitul.fnthro;l(l/ogr -l7

Susan (and others) continued to ha\ c trouhle using the skates. In the meantime, I had managed to figure it out and was soon skating ncar l:kcca. who sa\\ from my profile that I was an ethnographer: Bccca: Richard: Susan: Bccca: Tom: Bccca:
Su~an:

lkcca: Sam: Bccca: Richard: Susan: Sam: Susan: Bccca: Bccca: Susan: IM
lin~tant

message[:

Tom would you Iike to slm\ dance'? they [the skates[ arc still in the hox I hclicvc But I can't sec it Ithe hox I on my head f(lr science how do you do it' 1 Io I he he Lllll ... not sure I don't sec a hox on her head. he he I do So is it on my head then or not' 1 So Susan ... you get a set of skates in a hox' 1 hchc, I think that might\\ ork oh there we go lol Yeah, I got them from the hox, moved them into my inventory and then put them on Bccca: just don't put your hand up my skirt. .. hchc

Third. during this period \\hen Second Lif(: had on!) text chat (and C\ en alier the introduction of voice in 2007, chat remained common), rcsidcnh had learned tn parse con\crsations in \\hich there \\Crc multiple threads of mcrlapping talk. For instance, Sam asked Susan, 'you get a set of skates in a box'.'' and Susan ans\\ crcd three lines later, alter first ans\\Cring, 'I think that might \\Ork .in rckn.:IlL'C to a dit~ krcnt thread of con\ ersation. Fourth, when fkcca made a slightly risque comment to me ('just don't put your hand up my skirt'), she switched to an instant message, meaning that this text \\as \ isihle to no one hcsidcs myself. This apparently tri\ ial practice helped 111e rea\i;c early in my research that I should attend not just to the content of staten1cnts but to their modality ot'articu\ation-- 'chat', 'shout' (text that. \ike chat IS public\)\ isib\c hut to a\atars at a greater distance) and instant messages sent both to indi\ iduals and groups of residents. These \ arious modalities of articulation link to long-standing linguistic interest in cmles\\ itching but can also take t(mns of 'channels\\ itching' bel\\ een di fTc rent technological modalities of communication ((ierslwn 201 Oa ). Fillh, these insights (and many more) had precedents and contemporary paralkls. Peer education, the impact of gender norms e\ en'' hen physical-\\ orld gender cannot be ascertained and the existence of multiply threaded and multimodal con\ ersations \\ere not unique to this interaction, to Second Lik or L'\ en to\ irtual \\orlds. Thus. an awareness ofrcle\ant literatures pro\cd helpful in analysing these phenomena. Sixth, this encounter underscored IW\\ the ethnographer is not a contaminant. The l~tct that I \\as participating in Second Lite culture \\ithout deception \\as not an impediment: rather, it made the research more scientific. My 'slm\ dance f(lr science' illustrated the practice of participant obscnation, online and online.

Dar]: !/ere and Thac


On I July 2004, one day alier my slm\ dance for science. I logged into Second Lite again to conduct fieldwork, appearing as usual in my house. Rather than te\eporting instantaneously to another part or the\ irtua\ \\orld. I \\ alked do\\11 a nearby pa\ ed path. In the distance Ism\ three a\ atars. Robert Karen and Timothy: Robert: Karen: Timothy: Tom: Karen: Karen: Robert: Tom: Robert: Karen: Robert: Why, hcllo 1 IIi Tom IIi tom Hello' I'm your ncighhor dm\ n the road ;\hh cool Sorry l(lr all the mayhem here, I ha\ e era;y tiicnds Hope the hoopla hasn't been a problem What hoopla arc you talking about' 1 I lee hce roll Irolling on the floor laughing[\\ he\\ just asking for it 1

Despite the f~tct that I have edited this conversation f(lr the sake ofhrcvity, the ethnographic detail in this excerpt alone could take many pages to properly analyse, and it illustratcs the kinds of data ohtainahle fimn participant ohscn at ion that could not he acquired \ ia interviews or other elicitation methods. I \\ill note just six insights we can glean from this fieldwork encounter. First, residents worked together to educate each other rather than relying on the company that owns Second Lili: or some kind of instruction manual. Second, gender seems to he shaping the interaction: it is largely men advising \\Olllcn. Since everyone knows that physical-world gender might not he aligning \vith \ irtual-world gender, this has implications f(lr social constructions of gender.

48 /Jigita/;1nthropologr

Rethinking l>igitul.lnthrojwlogr 49

Timothy: Karen: Tom: Karen: Karen: Tom: Karen: Karen: Tom: Karen: Karen: Tom:

whew Oh the a vic Iavatar[launch game we had ... the explosions. lap dances Whatever it is. is hasn"t bothered me' Very good So which way down the road arc you' 1 To my right i\h very good Ciot a house. or doing something else thcrc' 1 Just got a place for nm\ coo I (lonna turn this into a small boutique coo I'

After a brief discussion of my positionality as a researcher. the con\ crsatinn turned once again to\ irtual place. In my fieldnotcs I noted the importance of one\ \ iC\\ across a virtual landscape. Encounters like this led me to rL'ali/c the importance of place to virtual \\orlds (sec BoellstortT200X: chap. 4). The topic then turned to multiple avatars. and I asked about The Sims Online. another\ irtual \\ orld I had bridly explored: Tom: do you play more than one mic at the same time'? I kmm people \\IHl did that in The Sims Online hut it seems that \\ ould he hard to do here. Karen: Robert: Timothy: Karen: Karen: Tom: Timothy: no. not here. in TSO [The Sims Online[! did Nc\cr saw the Sims. did !miss much' 1 I never tried TSO Didn"t miss shit so you missed There altogether'? Yes. !missed There completely. What \\as it likc' 1 I remember that Was it more like Second Liti.:: than TSO'? Very much like this. hut more cartoonish and everything had tn be pg13 Robert: Tom: Timothy: Karen: Karen: Timothy: Robert: Timothy: Robert: Stepf(ml Disney World Is it still around' 1 and not quite as open yes, Stcpford Disney lol hut there\ still a lot of charm to There but it has its nice parts Better chat, great vehicles Meeting Karen being one of em Card games' yes, I met both you guys in There the hori;~on is clear. not foggy like here

/\!ready from the discussion, I had noted how copt-cscncc in a v irtualncighhourhood could help shape online community: place matters online. Karen then changed the subject: Karen: Karen: Karen: Tom: Karen: Tom: Karen: Tom: Tom: Karen: Karen: Tom: Karen: Timothy: Timothy: Timothy: Tom: Karen: Timothy: Karen: Robert: Karen: Timothy: wow Tom, reading your profile here. very interesting um ... Indonesia. rcally' 1 Yep' Cool place. Not cool really. hot and humid. hut fun. lol how"d you end up over therc' 1 Random life events, backpacking there after college & meeting people that's gotta he quite interesting I imagine \cry' is that your glowing dance floor over there to my lcti' 1 nope. no clue who irs for a Iit tic bright there"s a lot of building right now in this area' It"s cool the landscape is transf(mncd yes, a lot of this land was just released happens in new areas finally got a house on one side of mine mini tower going in behind laugh lot as long as they don't cut off my view they screwed up my view in Shoki Iregion I Yeah, its just sad. even though he said he wouldn"t think I am safe there every day

Tom: Karen:

Karen: Karen:

This section of the discussion reveals hm\ understandings of Second Life \\ere shaped by previous and sometimes ongoing interaction in other\ irtual \\ orlds. This influenced not only how the users experienced Second Life. but their social nct\vorks (for instance. Karen first met Robert and Timothy in Thcre.com ). Yet to learn about how other virtual worlds shaped Second Life sociality. it\\ as not necessary f(lr me to conduct fieldwork in these other virtual worlds. Multisited ethnographic research is certainly usefi.d gi\cn the appropriate research question -for instance studying a virtual diaspora that moves across se\ era! \ irtual \\ orlds (Pearce and i\rtcmesia 2009). However. it was clearly possible to explore hmv other places shape a ficldsite without visiting them personally. lnd..:..:d. in his \\ell-known discussion or multisitcd

50 !Jigitul Antlm!Jio!og\'
ctlmograrhy. (icorgc Marcus was cardul to note the\ aluc ol' 'the strategically situated (single-site) cthnograrhy' (Marcus 199): II 0). This was an uncxrcctcd methodological resonance between my research in Second Life and Indonesia: to learn about gay identity in Indonesia. it was unnecessary to \ isit Amsterdam, London or other rlaccs that gar Indonesians saw as influencing their understanding ol' homosexual desire. Once again. virtually embodied rrcscncc \\as critical to my cthnograrhic method. In this one encounter, I gained a new arprcciation l'or virtual rlacc. the imrortancc of vision and a good view', and the impact or other virtual \\orlds. I mentioned none ol' these three torics in my original research proposal. c\cn though they all turned out to he central to my conclusions. The insights \\ere emergent. rcllccting hm\ 'the anthropologist embarks on a rarticipatory exercise which yields materials for which analytical rrotocols arc ollcn de\ iscd alter the 1~1ct' (Strathcrn ::!004:) -6).

Rethinking /)igirul.lnr!miJIO!ogr 51

traditional notions of rcJCrcnCC, because their meaning depends social interaction. For instance. the truth of the sentence: Letizia de Ranwlino ''a' the mother ol' 1\apokon [I Jn no'' a: depends we try to analyze:
c.r1

Oil

the context of

who says it_ hut simply nn the L1cts ol' histnrv. llut

110\\

suppose

I am the mother ol' Napoleon We cannot assess the truth of this sentence \Vithout taking intn account '' ho the speaker is ... \\ e need to know. in addition to the L1cts ol' histor:. certain details about the contc.'\1 in \\hich it \\as uttered (here. the identity of the speaker). (Levinson I<JX_\: 55 6) The philosopher Charles Sanders Peirce termed \lords like these 'inde:-.ical signs' (Lc1 inson 19X3: )7) and cmphasi/cd their causal rather than symbolic relationship to referents. To usc t\\O examples 1~1111iliar to linguists, smoke is an index of fire. and a hole in a piece or metal is an index of the bullet that passed through the metal. In each case. a causal relationship 'points back' limn the index to the referent. A lwle in a piece ol' metal docs not con\ cntionally symboli/c a bullet in the same\\ ay that a drav\ ing or a bullet shape or the \1 ord /J11//C1 can stand l()r an actual bullet. Instead. the hole in the piece of metal rc!Crs to the bullet causally -the bullet made the hole. Similarly. 'the smoke docs not stand J()r" the lire the \lay in 11 hich the \lord .fire might he used in telling a story about a past e\ cnt. The actual smoke is connected. spatio-temporally and physically. to another. related. phenomenon and acquires "meaning" ti01n that spatio-temporal. physical connection' (Duranti 1997: 17). While these examples indicate that indexical signs do not h:nc to be \\Ords. a whole range or words arc indeed indcxicals (indexical dcnotationals. to he precise). including 'the demonstrative pronouns this. thur. rlwsc. personal pronouns like I and .1'1111. temporal expressions like nmt: then. rc.l/cnfur. and spatial e:-.prcssions like //fl. dll\1'11, hclmt: uhon'' (Duranti 1997: 17). For instance rhis is an indexical because its meaning shills based on the cultural contc\t ol' the utterance. To say 'the sun is round' or 'the sun is square' can be assigned a truth Yaluc regardless of my position in time and place. However. I cannot assign a truth \ alue to the utterance 'this table is round' unless I know the conte\t to \\hich the \lord this can he said to point. lndcxicals can be l()lllld in all human languages. and interesting\ ariations exist. For instance in French and (Ierman. l(mnal \ crsus inl(mnal second-person pronouns (111 \'111/S and du/Sic. respectively. which in English \lould all he translated .1'011) mark obligatory 1(mns or social indexicality. As noted by Duranti. indcxicals arc 'grounded' in spatial!) and temporally specific social realities: A basic property of the indexical contc\t of interaction is that it is dynamic. i\s interactants move through space. shill topics. exchange inl(mnation.
1 ;

Part 3: Digital Anthropology, lndcxicality and Participant Observation


These cthnograrhic materials highlight how the gar between online and offline is culturally constitutive. not a suspect intellectual artclilct to be blurred or erased. This distinction is not limited to virtual worlds. For instance. Daniel Miller has noted that for persons in Trinidad who have dilliculty \Yith rhysical-world rclationshirs. Tacchook provides an additional sracc for rcrsonal cxrrcssion' (Miller 2011: 169). That is. l(lrms or expression and relationship can take rlacc on Facchook, hut the space oiTaccbook and the sracc or Trinidad do not thereby collapse into each other. You can be on Facchook without being in Trinidad. and you can he in Trinidad '' ithout being on Faccbook. Another cxamrle: in her study of breakups online. Ilana Gershon noted that such disconnections 'arc emphatically not the disconnections between surroscdly real interactions and virtual interactions. Rather. they are disconnections between people--the endings of liicndships and romances' (Gershon 2010b: 14). These endings arc both online and olllinc in character. To rethink digital anthroroJogy, WC mu~t build uron such insights to identify a COilllllOn Set or isSUCS that make digital anthropology cohere, and we can then explore in rarticular lieldsitcs. This is why I nmv score out !'rom the specificities of Second Lite. and even virtual worlds. toward a theoretical and methodological Jiamc\\ ork for digital anthropology.

lnde.ricalifl' as a Core Thcorrj(n !Jigital AnthmJ7ologr


In the introduction. I suggested that an indexical theory l(lr understanding the ITIationshir between virtual and actual could help in rethinking digital anthrorology. Scholars of language have long noted the existence of words that lie outside

52 /Jigitul Anthropologr
coordinate their rcspcctiv c orientations, and cstahli~h common grounds as well as non-CllllllllOnalitics, the indexical tiamcwork of rcl"crcncc changes' (Hanks ll)l)2: 53). This 'interactive emergence ofthc indexical ground' (Hanks 1992: 66) provides the point of entree for rethinking digital anthropology in terms of indc\.icality. The spatially and temporally specific social realities arc no longer limited to the physical \\ orld: the processes of moving though space and cstabl is hi ng common grounds can now take place online as well as otllinc. Confronted with multiple embodiments, and thus V\ith indcxicalfic/d.l o/rcfi'rencc that arc multiple in a new V\ay, v\c thereby
l~tcc

Hclhinking /)igitul .lnthmf)()/ogr 53

blurred into brush strokes. But no matter how high the rcsolutiotL \\hen one looks carefully, one sees the discreteness of the dots as well as the gaps ofv\ hitc space that allow them to comcy meaning. This recalls hm\ no matter hov\ Ltst a computer becomes. no matter hm\ quickly millions ofOs and Is stream by. millions of gaps \\ill stream by as welL l(lr the computer\ functioning depends on the gaps thcmsclv cs. In setting out this idea of an anthropology that is digital by\ irtuc of its attunemen\ to the indexical relationships constituting the virtual and the actual, I do not mean to imply that \irtual meaning-making is exclusively indc.\.ical in character. I am not saying that digital anthropologists need to become scmioticians or that digital anthropology projects need to prioriti/c indc\.icality. /\tissue is that imk\.icalit) provides an empirically accurate and conceptual fy rich pcrspcctiv c timn v\ hich to rethink digital anthropology and virtual culture. This is because indcxicalit) entails strong linkages to context (Keane 2003). and V\c nm\ grapple v\ith a human reality in \\ hich there arc multiple contexts, multiple\\ orlds. multiple bodies -all\\ ith historical precedent but no true historical parallel. While a detailed examination of semiotic theory lies beyond the scope of this chapter, we can note in passing that symbols and icons, the other tv\ o types of sign in Peirce\ analysis, arc ubiquitous in online contexts (consider the icons that arc so central to computing cultures). Nor do V\C need to limit ourselves to a Pcirccian approach to language and meaning. But while not all dimensions of culture arc like language, this particular aspect of language--the centrality of indc\.icality to meaningmaking--is more indicative or virtual sociality than the structural-grammatical dimensions of language that 'cannot really serve as a model f(lr other aspects of culture' ( Silv crstein 1976: I 2 ). What I am suggesting is, tirsL that for digital anthwpology to make sense. it must mean more thanjust the study of things you plug in or event he study of Internet-mediated sociality and. second. that one promising av cnuc in this regard imolvcs dnming from the digital\ indexical entailments of pointing and constitutive gaps. These entailments have theoretical consequences that suggest research questions and lines of inquiry. They also hav c important consequences for method, the topic to which I nmv turn.

the virtual as an emergent set of social realities that cannot be straightl(mvardly

C\.trapolatcd Irom the physical V\ orllL For instance the social intentions, emotions, decisions and activities that take place on Faccbook cannot he reduced to the physical-world activities and identities of those who participate in it. even though these can have physical-world consequences ranging ti01n a romance's dissolution to a political revolution. It is possible, l(lr example, to become a closer tiicnd with someone on Face book without meeting that person in the physical world along the way. The reason why it is possible to rehabilitate the digital so as to transcend its common conllation with 'online' is that the concept is fundamentally linked to indexicality. The etymology of index (Latin, l(lrcfingcr) and digit (Latin. finger) both rct'cr to the embodied act of pointing---and this has momentous implications when you can have multiple bodies and multiple fields ofrct"crcncc (even when there is not a clear avatar body involved). Building upon this characteristic of the digital through the framework of indcxicality results in a
l~tr

more precise notion of digital: it compels

attention to the indexical ground of virtual culturc. 14 The greatest strength of an indexical perspective is that it avoids the conceptual danger discussed in Part I: the idea that the gap between the virtual and actual is headed down a teleological path to a blurring that we might celebrate or rue. It would be nonsensical to contend that the distinction between smoke and fire might someday van ish, that the gap between the word sun and the massive orb of gas at the centre of our solar system might blur or that the difkrencc between I and 0 might converge into a l(lg of 0.5s. Yet just such an absurdity is entailed by the idea that the online and olflinc can no longer he separated. At issue arc myriad forms of social practice, including meaning-making, that move within virtual contexts hut also across the gap between virtual and actual-tiom skates on an avatar's feet to embodied views across a virtual landscape, fr01n a friendship in the actual world altered though a text message to a friendship on Face hook between tvv o people who never physical Iy meet. At a broader leveL the virtual and actual stand in an 'inter-indexical relationship' (Inoue 2003: 327 ); it is through the general gap between them that the emerging socialities so in need of anthropological investigation arc taking form. As online socialities grow in number. si/c and genre, the density and rapidity of these digital transactions across the inter-indexical gap between virtual and actual increase exponentially. Like standing hack ti01n a pointillist painting, it appears that the dots have

Participant Ohsermtion as the Core /vfethod ji:Jr D(!{ita I Ant hmJ)()Iogl


Digital anthropology typically implies 'doing ethnography'. 1 ' But ethnography is not a method: it is the v\rittcn product of a set of methods. as the sunix -graJJhl (to write) indicates. Rethinking digital anthropology mustthcrcf"lllc address not just (I) the theoretical flamcworks we employ and (2) the socialities V\C study. but
(3) how we engage in the research itself.

Ethnographers of virtual socialities \\ ork in a dinying range of licldsitcs (and arc not always anthropologists, since ethnographic methods hav c a long history in

54 /Jigi!ol.ln!hmJWingr
sociology and other disciplines). One of the greatest v irtucs of ethnographic methods is that researchers can adapt them to the conll'xts of particular ficldsitcs at particular periods in time. Ethnographic research online docs not difkr in this regard. Hm\ ever. this flexibility is not boundless.;\ serious threat to the rigor and legitimacy of digital anthropology is when online researchers claim to have 'done an ethnography" 11 hen they conducted in ten icws in isolation. paired at most 1vith the analysis of blogs and other texts. ( 'haractcri/ing such research as ethnographic is misleading because participant observation is the core method of any cthnogr:1phic research project. The reason for this is that methods such as interviews arc elicilolion methods. They allow interlocutors to speak rctrospccti1ely about their practices and beliefs as well as speculate about the future. But ethnographers combine elicitation methods (like interviews and I(Jcus groups) with participant observation. which. as a method not predicated on elicitation. allows us to study the dil'fcrcnccs between \\hat people say they do and ''hat they do. The problem \\ ith elicitation methods in isolation is that this methodological choice surreptitiously encodes a theoretical presumption that culture is present to consciousness. It is predicated on the belief that culture is something in people\ heads: a set of viewpoints that an interviewee can tell the researcher. to appear later as an authoritative block quotation in the published account. Of course. persons can often be eloquent interpreters of their cultures: as a result. interviews should be part of any ethnographic project. But what interviews and other elicitation methods can never reveal arc the things we cannot articulate. even to ourselves. Ob1 ious cases of this include things that arc repressed or unconscious. an insight dating back to Freud. Language is another example. Consider a basic phonological rule like assimilation. where I(Jr instance the n in inconccil'llhlc becomes 111 in imJWS.Iihlc because p is a bilabial plosivc (made with the lips). and the nasaln assimilates to this place of articulation. Almost no English speakers could describe this rule in an intervie1v. even though they usc the rule hundreds of times a day in the llow of everyday speech. Such aspects of culture arc by no means limited to language and the psyche. In particular. theorists of practice have w orkcd to show hm\ much of everyday social action ill\ olvcs tacit knowledge. Pierre Bourdicu cmphasi/cd this point when critiquing anthropologists who speak of 'mapping" a culture: 'it is the analogy which occurs to an outsider who has to lind his way around in a l(lrcign landscape" (Bourdicu 1977: 3 ). Take any route you traverse as part of your daily routine. I fthcrc is a staircase in your home or olticc. do you knmv hm1 many stairs arc thcrc' 1 The peril is to seck a representation of such tacit knowledge via an intcn ic11. where the inl(mnant\ discourse is shaped by the framework of elicitation 'inc\ itably induced by any learned questioning" (Bourdicu 1977: IX). ;\sa result. the anthropologist is condemned to <Jdopt unwittingly I(Jr his m1 n use the representation of action\\ hich is l(lrccd on agents or groups when they lack practical mastery of a highly valued competence and have to prm ide thcmschcs with an explicit and at least scmi-l(mnali/cd substitute l(ll it in the l(mn of a rcpcl"loirc oi'rulcs. (ilourdicu 1'177: 2)

Rc!hinking /)igi!ul.lnt/miJIO/ogr 55

Elicitation not interwoven 1vith participant obscnation can lead researchers to confuse representation \\ ith reality. and thereby mistakenly equate culture '' ith rules. scripts or norms rather than embodied practices. If there is one thing that ethnographers h:n c shm' n m cr the years. it is that .,, hat is essential goes 1rithou1 Sll\'ing hccuuse if co/IIi'S ll'ithou/ suring: the tradition is silent. not least about it sell" as a tradition" ( Bourdicu 1977: I (1 7. emphasis in original). When ethnographers ask in ten icv\ questions. they obtain representations ol" social practice. Representations arc certainly social l~tcts ( Rabi mm Jl)X(l) and ha\ c cultural ctfccts. But they cannot be confbtcd with culture as a 11 hole. If you ask someone 'what docs lricndship mean to yo\1' 1 " you will get a rcprcscntationoi"what that person takes tiicndship to be. That representation is socially consequential: it is embedded in (and influences) a cultural context. llmlc\cr. that elicited representation is not identical to l"ricndship in practice. The methodological contribution of participant ohscn at ion is that it pnn ides ethnographers insight into practices and meanings as they unl(lld. It also allo\\S i"or obtaining nonelicitcd data----conversations as they occur. but also acti\ itics. embodiments. movements though space. and built en\ ironmcnts. For instance in Part 2. I observed Second Li lc residents teaching each other how to skate on a 1 irtual icc rink. in part by learning hm1 to skate mysell". Had I just walked up to an a\ a tar and asked out of the blue. 'hm\ do you learn in Second LiiC'~" I \lould ha\c likely rccci\cd a l(mllal response cmphasi/ing things traditionally seen as learning-related: rich detail about a group of avatars learning to skate \\Ould not ha\c been in the oiling. Participant obscnation allows researchers to identify cultural practices and bclicl"s of\\ hich they were unaware during the process of research design. Some persons terming thcmschcs ethnographers may not ''ish tn hear this. On more than one occasion I have counselled scholars \\ ho claim to he "doing ctlmography" but usc intcrYiC\\ s in isolation--in one case. hccau-;c a colleague told the scholar that participant ohscnation would take too long. Participant ohscn at ion is ncv cr rapid: 'not unlike learning another language. such inquiry requires time and pat icncc. There arc no shortcuts (Rosa Ido ll)X9: 2:'\ ). You cannot become llucnt in a nc\1 language mcrnight. or C\cn in a month or 1\\o. Similarly. someone claiming to ha1c conducted ethnographic research in a \leek or C\cn a month is mischaractcri/ing his or her \\ork unless it is part of a more long-term engagement. Thnc is no 1v ay the researcher could ha1 c hccnme knmm lo "cnmnnmitr and participated in its C\ cryday practices in such a compressed time tiamc.

Conclusion: Time and Imagination


When I think about the exciting possibilities that inhere in rethinking digital anthropology. I find my mind \\andcring back to an image.;\\\ chpagc. to he precise. that has haunted me liJI" years despite its apparent tri1 iality. I think of all things! about the original McDonald\ home page ti0111 I <)l)(J. l"rom the early days ol"thc :ntcrnct"s

56 /)igitul A nthm1){)logr
asccndancc."' Despite its simplicity ti01n a contemporary pcrspccti\c (basically. the Golden Arches logo on a red background). the \\ cbpagc represented the best that a major corporation could oflCr in terms of\\Cb presence: it likely involved considerable expense to design and implement. When I think about what this \\ cbsitc represents. I compare it to some contemporary phenomenon Iike htccbook or Twitter. For instance. the \\ cll-knm\ n microblogging site Twitter was l(lllndcd in 200(1 and allows users to post text messages up to 140 characters in length. Such sites arc simple: broadband Internet connections and bla/ing graphics cards arc unnecessary fix their operation. One could clTccti\ ely access T\\ iller with a slow dial-up connection. using a 19<JOs-LTa computer with what would now be minuscule processing power. In t:tct. there is no technological reason why 1\\ iller could not have existed in I <J<J6. alongside that original McDonald\ home page. Why did Tw ittcr not exist in 1996. coming into being only ten years latcr' 1 It was not a limit oftcchnology: it was a limit of imagination. In the early years of widespread web connectivity. we did not yet rcali/c the alTordanccs of the technology in question. Virtual worlds. onlittc games. social networking sites and C\Cn instant messaging and smartphoncs in the 20 I Os arc analogous to that McDonald's w cbpagc tillln 199(J. Current uses of these technologies push against the hori/on of the l~uniliar. and it could not be othcn\ isc. Transl(mllativ.: potential uses of these technologies certainly exist. but at present they arc no more conceivable than the idea of a Twitter feed would have been to a user of the McDonald's v\cbsitc in 1996. despite its ICasibility from a t.:ehnieal standpoint. It is a matter of time and imagination. Leaeh eoneluded 'Rethinking Anthropology' by emphasi/ing: 'I bclic\C that we social anthropologists are like the mediaeval Ptolemaic astronomers: we spend our time trying to fit the t:tcts or the objcetive world into the framework or a set of concepts whieh hav<.: been developed a priori instead of from obscn ation. (Leach 1961: 26). Leach was frustrated that social researchers olien ~:til to listen to the empirical realities they ostensibly study. Despite our best intentions.'' c olicn t:tll back on I(Jik theories and pr.:conceived notions from our own cultural backgrounds. This is particularly the case when speaking about the future. The problem with the future is that there is no way to rcscareh it. It is the domain of the science fiction author and the entrepreneur on the make. Soeial seientists study the past. and many of them. including ethnographers. study the present: in this chapter I ha\c worked to demonstrate ho\\ digital anthropology might contribute to studying this emergent present. But if we see that contribution as shmving that the virtual and actual are no longer separate. we will have substituted a mistaken teleology for empirical reality: we will remain in a Ptolemaic fiame of mind. The virtual and the actual arc not blurring. nor are they pulling apart from one another. Such spatial metaphors of proximity and mmcmcnt radically mischaractcri/e the semiotic and material interchanges that forge both the virtual and the actual. Digital anthropology as a fiamework ean provide tools to a\ oid this coneeptual eulde-sac via a theoretical attention to the indexical relationships that link the onlin.:

Rethinking /)igitol .lnthm1){)logr 57

and ofllinc thmugh similitude ond dijj(n'nce and b; a metlwdological focus on participant observation. Social researchers arc constantly asked to engage in the '' ork of forecasting or 'trending" to predict what will happen with regard to Ill'\\ technologies. But laeking access to a time machine and eontionted by the t:tilure oi" the most sm \; futurists to predict C\en the rise ofblogging. our only real c.,planatory pm\er lies in imcstigating the past and present. Digital anthropology can play an important role in this regard. but f(x this to happen it must stand f(Jr more than ethnography online. Time is a necessity for digital anthropology you cannot do ethnographic research 0\ cr a \\Cckend. But imagination is also needed. Rethinking digital anthropology\\ ill t:lil short if it docs not include imagining whaL "digital" might mean and \\hat its consequences might be for social inquiry.

Notes
I thank Daniel Miller and !leather Horst t(n their encouragement to'' rite this chapter and l'aul Manning ltlr his helpful comments. I. In this chapter I treat uctuol. phrsical and offline and ,irtuol and online as synonyms. It is possible to crali fiameworks in\\ hich these terms dii"ICr. but it is a flawed ftllk theory oi" language that the mere existence of multiple lexcmcs entails multiple corr.:sponding entities in the \\orld. I have brieily discussed these meanings of the digital else\\ here\\ ith regard to cmbodiment(Bocllstorlf2011: 51"'- 15). For re\iews of the history of digital anthropological \\urk. see. inter alia. BoellstoriT(200X: chap. 2): BocllstorfL Nardi. Pcaree and Taylor (20 12: chap. 2) and Coleman (20 I 0). For example Curtis (I ll)92j 1997). Kendall (2002) and Morningstar and Farmer ( 1991 ). Such uses of convergence di\ crgc tillln Ilcnry .Jenkins\ (200X) notion of com crgcnce culture. \\ hich rcfCrcnces differing media. Lehdonvirta used the unwieldy phrase 'massively-multiplayer online games and \irtual emironmcnts (l'v1MO!sll": I will simply use'\ irtual \Yorlds' here. This is true as well \\ ith regard to Hui/inga 's much-maligned and poorly understood notionofthc 'magic circle' (llui/inga I193X]1950: 57: sec Boellstorff 200X: 23). or course. many religious traditions have inlluenced understandings oi" the virtual (as exemplified by the notion of matars. dra\\11 from Hinduism). Hov\Cver. the Christian tradition has dominated. gi\en its hegemony in the Western contexts. \\here the Internet rc\ olution began. Sec BoellstmfT( 200X: 205-11 ). In their introduction to this volume. Miller and llorst also speak of the need to rethink basie anthropolog.icalldcas in light of the impact of the digital.

'J

3.

4.

5. 6.

7.

X.

58 /)igitul A nthropologr
Even the varied post-Saussurcan approaches to language provide for the constitutive role of gaps (and movement across those gaps). This includes notions of iteration which 'contains in itselfthc discrepancy of a diiTcrcncc that constitutes it as iteration' (Dcrrida 19SS: 53. emphasis in original). I 0. These dchatcs. and my engagement with them. preceded and took place separately from dchatcs over duhbing versus subbing that appear in some contempoII. rary debates over Internet-mediated l~m production. The ethnographic contexts of Indonesia and Second LiiC arc or course very dif!Crcnt: the common need to challenge teleological narrati\cs says as much about scholarly assumptions as the contexts thcmsch cs. 12. For a detailed theoretical and methodological discussion of this research. sec Bocllstorlr(200S) and BocllstoriTct a!. (2012). 13. In English and many other languages (for example Indonesian). speakers usc lexical items like sir or madam to optionally index intimacy. For a discussion of social indcxicality and social dcixis more generally. sec Manning (200 I). 14. What was likely the first contemporary virtual \\orld originated in two hands pointing at each other while superimposed on a computer screen (Krueger 15. !9S3: sec BocllstoriT200S: 42 7). Phrases such as 'digital archaeology' usually connote a historical approach rather than a true engagement with archaeological approaches and paradigms 9.

Rethinking /)igilul .lnthmenlngr 59


( 'oleman. r:. G. 20 I 0. Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media . . lnnuul R(Tinr of .1nthmJJn/ngr 39: 4S7 505. Curtis. P. rl992j 1997. Mudding: Social Phenomena in Text-Based Virtual Realities. In Culture of !he flllcrnc/. cd. S. Kicskr. 121 42. Malm~th. N.l: Lcmrcncc Erlbaum. Dcrrida. J. I lJSS. Signature F\ cnt Context. In Umiled Inc .. I 24. L\ anston. I L: North\\ estern Uni\ crsity Press. Duranti. !\. 1997. Unguislic" llllhmJ!ologr. ('ambridge: Cambridge Uni\ crsity Press. Gccrtz. C. 19S3. 'From the Native\ Point of Vic\\: On the Nature ofAnthrnpological Understanding. In /,nco/ 1\nmt'lec(~;c: 1-'ul'lhcr I:'.I.IU.\'.1 in fnlc!Jii'Ciitc .lnlhmpn/ogr. 55 72. New York: Basic Books. Gershon. I. 20 I Oa. Breaking Up Is Hard To Do: Media S\vitching and Media Ideologies. Joumu/ ojUngui.11ic ilnlhloJJo/ngr 20(2): 3S9 405. Gershon. I. 20 I Ob. The Breakup ].(}: !Ji.lconnccling oter .\'nr .\ledia. Ithaca. NY: Cornell Uni\crsity Press. Hanks. W. F. 1992. The Indexical Ground of Dcictic Rcl'crcncc. In Rcthinking Context: l"anguugc us U/7 fnlcruclitc 1'/wnomcnnn. cd. C. (iood\lin and A. Duranti. 43 76. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni\crsity Press. Huizinga . .1. r 193S I 1950. ffnll/0 !.udell.\.' A S!llil\' o(lhc 1'/u\'-UCIIW/1/ in Cul!urc. Boston: Beacon Press. Inoue. M. 2003. Speech without a Speaking Body: '.Japanese Women\ Language' in Translation. l.unguagc Ol7il ( 'ommuniculinn 23(.1 4 ): 3 15 30. Jenkins. II. 200S. Cont'CI;~?.encc ( 'u/turc: Where Old and .\'c11 .\lcdio ( 'o//idc. Nc\\ York: Nc\\ York University Press . .Iones. Q. 1997. Virtual-Communities. Virtual Settlements. and Cybcr-Archac-ology: A Theoretical Out Iinc . .lou mal o/Con!Jmler- .\fediuled ( 'on!lnllllicol ion 3( 3 ). http:' on I inc! i brary. wi lcy.com/doi/ I 0. I II I/j. I OSJ-61 0 I . 1997 .tb0007 5 .x full (accessed April 12. 2012). Keane. W. 2003. Semiotics and the Social Analysis of Material Things. I.onguogc and Cmillllllllicolinn 23(314 ): 409 25. KendalL L. 2002. flanging Oul in the Virllwl l'uh: .\la.1culinilies and Rclolinnship.1 Online. Berkeley: Uni\crsity of California Press. Krueger. M. W. 19S3. Artificial Reali!\'. Reading. MA: Addison- Wesley. Leach. L. R. 1961. Rethinking Anthropology. In N.elhinking .lnllllofw/ogl'. I 27. London: Robert Cunningham and Sons. Lchdom irta. V. 20 I 0. Virtual Worlds Don't Exist: Questioning the DiLhotomous Approach in M MO St udics. flllcmatinna/ .lou mol oj ComJ!l!lel Game Research 10( I): 1-16. Levinson. S C. 19S3. l'ragmutic.1. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni\ crsity Press. Malinowski. B. 1922. A1gonwtl.1 o/lhc ll.1/cm f'acific. Nc1\ York: E. P. Dutton. Manning. 11. 1'. 2001. On Social Dcixis. Alllhmpolngiml Unguislin43: 54-100.

(for one notable exception. sec .Iones 1997 ). 16. You can sec this wcbpagc at http://wcb.archivc.orglwch/ !9961221230 I 04/ http :/w\\ w.mcdona lds.com/.

References
Bcdos-Rczak. B. 2000. Medieval Identity: A Sign and a Concept. /lmericun 1/is/orica/ R(Ticlt' I 05(5 ). http://www.historycoopcrativc.org/journals/ahr/l 05.51 ahOO 14S9.html. Hoc II storfT. T. 2 005. The Gar Arch if!Ciugo: Sew a/ itr and Nut ion in Indonesia. Pri neeton. N.l: Princeton University Press. Bocllstori'L T. 200S. ( 'oming ofAgc in Second Ufi': ,111 ilnthmJwlngist Elf!lorcs the Virtual!\' llumrm. Princeton. N.l: Princeton University Press. BocllstoriT. T. 20 II. Placing the Virtual Body: Avatar. Chora. Cyphcrg. In A Companion to the AnthmJwlog\ o(tlw Hmlr and J:'mhodimcnl. cd. F. F. Mascia- Lees. 504 20. New York: Wiley-Blackwell. Bocllstorl( T.. B. A. Nardi. C. Pearce and T. L. Taylor. 2012. !:'thnngrafJhr and Virtual Wor!d'i: A 1/andhook of Method Princeton. N.l: Princeton University Press. Bourdicu. 1'. 1977. Outline ofu Theon ojl'mctice. Cambridge: Cambridge Uni\crsity Press.

60 JJigital AnthmJ!ologr
Marcus, Ci. I LJLJ5. Ethnography in/ol" the World System: The Lmcrgcncc ol" MultiSited Ethnography. Annual Rcl'iCII" of/Jnthml){}logr 24: 95-117. Miller, D. 20 II. Tale.1jiwn Facel){)ok. Camhridgc: Polity Press. Morningstar, C., and F. R. Farmer. ILJLJI. The Lessons ol" Lucas111m's llahitat. In C\'hcr.1pace: FirstS'tep.l, cd. M. Benedikt 273 .lOI. Camhridgc, MA: MIT Press. Oetomo, D. I LJLJ7. Kctika Sharon Stone Bcrbahasa Indonesia [When Sharon Stone speaks Indonesian]. In /Jcrcintu /)cngan TclcTisi: l/u.1i. lm1m'.li, danlmaji Sehuah Kotak Ajaih [In love with television: Illusions, impressions, and images ti01n a magical hox], cd. D. Mulyana and I. Suhandy Ibrahim, .l.l.l-7. Bandung, Indonesia: PT Rcmaja Rosdakarya. Pearce, C., and Artcmcsia. 2009. Colllmunitie.\ o/Pim: /:"mngcnt Cultures in .'vfultipla\'cr Games and Virtual Worl1il. Cam hridgc, M A: MIT Press. Rahinow, P. 19~h. Representations Arc Social Facts: Modernity and Post-Modernity in Anthropology. In Writing Culture: the l'oetii'.l a/1(1 Politics ojEthnograph\-, cd. .J. Clil"l"ord and G. F. Marcus, 234 61. Berkeley: University of California Press. Rogers, R. 200LJ. The Fnd o(lhe Virtual: /)igitul .'v!ethoiil. Amsterdam: Yossiuspcrs UvA. Rosaldo, R. 19SLJ. Culture and Th1th: The Remaking o/ Social Analrsi.1. Boston: Beacon Press. Sahlins, M. I LJ96. The Sadness ol" Sweetness: The Nati\ c Anthropology ol" Western Cosmology. Current Anthm1}(}logr 37(3 ): .lLJ5-42S. Silverstein, M. 197(). Shillcrs, Linguistic Categories, and Cultural Description. In Meaning in Anthmpolog\', eel. K. H. Basso and H. A. Sclhy, II 55. Albuquerque: University oi"Ncw Mexico Press. Strathcrn, M. 2004. ( 'ommo11.1 and Borderland\": Working f'apcrs on flllcrdiscip/inarity, Accountahi/itr. and the Flo\\' ojKno\\'ledge. Wantage: Scan Kingston.

-3New Media Technologies in Everyday Life


Heather A. Horst

Domestic Ii f"c constitutes one ol" the primary concerns ol" the discipline ol" anthropology. Beginning with l.C\\is llcnry Morgan's classic study /louses and /louse Uk of"the /lmerican Ahorigine.\ (Morgan 196()), Lc\i-Strauss's ( 19S.l, 19S7) notion ol" house societies and Bourdicu's structuralist approach to understanding the symbolism ol" the Kabylc house, understanding domestic li IC emerged a \\ ay through \\ hich anthropologists began to formulate theories around kinship, lineage, social organi;ation and reproduction (Bloch 199S: Carsten and II ugh-Jones I C)C)5). As anthropology has broadened its inquiry ti01n small-scale societies and the t"ocus upon traditional or non- Western lives to the urban, Western and the middle class. anthropological attention also shilicd f"rom outlining social structure to the interpretation of" and processes underpinning social change. Indeed. Bourdicu's formulation or the habitus and social practice in shaping taste and aesthetics in lrcnch homes ( Bourdicu 197'},_ 19S4) and Moore\ (19S6) analysis of"thc \\ays in \\hich gender is structured and restructured in domestic space through practice represent seminal \\ ork on the\\ ays which gender and other f"orms of" ditTcrcncc become inscribed and rcinscribcd in domestic space. Patterns stemming ti01n processes such as modcrni;ation, urbani/ation and global i;ation have recently rcim igoratcd our understanding of" the relationship bet\\ ccn domestic spaces, particularly with respect to social change. This \York has chronicled alternative political\ is ions such as the construction and negotiation or socialist cities and dwellings ( llolston 19S9: Buchli 19LJ9): the de\ clopmcnt or gated communities and ncolihcral gmcrnancc ( Lcm 2003): historici;cd accounts or the \\ays in\\ hich notions or gender arc renegotiated through the introduction or time-saving kitchen de\ ices, Tuppcmarc and related projects such as domestic science programs (Clarke 1999: llancock 200 I: Pink 2004; Shm c 2003) and the relationship bel\\ ccn consumption and the microdynamics or decorating. redecorating and nHJ\ ing furniture (Cicraad 2006: Miller 2001 ). In addition, research has examined the role that home plays in the project or the self" in late modernity (sec (iiddcns I C)l) 1: Clarke :.oo I: Garvey 200 I, 20 I 0: Low and Lawrcncc-/uiiiga 2003: Marcoux 200 I: Miller 200 I). This chapter \\ill t"ocus upon one of" these nc\\ arenas Ill'\\ media technologies in the home-and the implications ol"thc rapidly changing. media ecology f"or sociallik.

()I

62 /Jigilul :ln!hmJwlogy

.VcH .\!cdiu l(clnwlugic.\ ill l:'lcrrdot l.ifi 63

New Media Technologies in the Home


As prcv ious research on radio and television revealed (Tacchi 2002: Wilk 2002), Ill'\\ media technologies altered the inliastructurc and rhythms or C\ cry day Ii k. For example, Lynn Spigcl \ ( Jl)92, 20 I 0) \\ ork on tclcv ision n..'\ cals how, in conjunl'tion with the process of suburbanization, the television in ll)50s America became part of the C\ eryday i~tbric of the home, structuring the ways i~lllliiics came together to watch news and broadcast programming. As Bakardjicva (2005 ), Dourish and Bell ( 2007 ). Livingstone ( 2002) and others ha\ c obscrv cd, kitchens, dens. basements. bedrooms and other domestic spaces such as cars hav c also changed \\ ith the introduction of computers. mobile phones, gaming dcv ices, Ml'3 players and a range of other digital and networked media ( Baym 2000: Bull 200X: Horst 20 I 0: Horst and Miller 2006: Ito, Okabc and Matsuda 20 I 0: Lally 2002: L.ing 2004: Sten:ns, Satwicz and McCarthy 200X). One of the important distinctions between new media technologies and technologies such as dishwashers and Tupperwarc involves the concept of double articulation: ncvv media technologies arc not only objects. but they also link the private sphere with the public sphere and. in turn, f~tcilitatc the negotiation of meaning both within and through their usc (Silverstone. Hirsch and Morley ll)l)2). Silverstone, II irsch and Morley ( 1992) argue that the capacity fi.lr double articulation also has implications fix the processes through which Ill'\\ media technologies arc incorporated into everyday lik. As they describe. ObJects and meanings, technologies and media, which noss the diffuse and shitiing boundary between the public sphere where they arc produced and distributed, and the rrivatL' srhere \vhcrc they an: arrrorriated into a rersona] economy of meaning (Miller 19X7). mark the site of the nucial \vork of social rerroduction which takes rlace within the household's moral economy ... objects and meanings, in their objectification and incorroration within the sraccs and rractices of domestic life, define a rarticular semantic universe f(Jr the household in relation to that offered in the ruhlic world of comnwditics and ephemeral and instrumental rclationshirs. (I X I'))

dynamism or objects by illustrating hO\\ the biography or the IHlmL' computer has changed ov cr time. These changes bring about alterations in notions ur
O\\

ncrship

and the role that ncv\ media technologies continue to play in the constitution or project or the self--a core characteristic of personhood in many \\'estern contC'\tS. Lally further argues that computers and other objects become C'\tcnsions or the self through acts such as personalization, scll:_transfimnation and 'mall'rial projcction(s) of an imagined possible seW (Lally 2002:214: sec also Miller and Slater 2000 and their discussion of expansive realisation). Through such processes. objects can become de-alienated: however, this may change
O\

cr time as the relationship to a par-

ticular Ill'\\ media technology chang~..s and one SL.'cks to ali~..nak' ur di\ est Olll.'SL.'ir rrom the object. For Lally. possession, ownership and the process of domestication arc both mutable and relational. This chapter builds upon this literature on domestication. the moral ccoJ!llmy or the household, possession and imagined ruturcs as they arc c:-.prcsscd through the integration ofncw media technologies in C\cryday life. Highlighting the three key issues that emerge in the pre\ ious literature --the management or space and time, the microdynamics or the household and the boundaries bet\\ Cl'll pri\ ate and public---I describe three case studies from recent research on Ill'\\ media and the f~unily to examine hm\ new media technologies (especially net\\ orkcd media) extend and challenge earlier conceptions of technology appropriation. The cases take place in Silicon Valley, the centre or the technology industry ''here residents are cmisioncd as tech sa\\Y 'digital natives' ((iasscr and Palfrey 200X: Prcnsky 200 I ). The first case study examines h(m l~unilics place Ill'\\ media in their home. Illustrating the emergence of bedroom culture. gaming and entertainment rooms and ol1icc/homc\\ ork spaces for adults and youth. I focus upun the increasing specialization or domestic space and the importance or acti\ itics in shaping the spatiaL social and temporal boundaries or these spaces. The second case study explores the relationship between place. notions ofthc sell' and coming of age in socialnet\\ork sites such as Faccbook and MySpacc. The third case study examines the relationship bct\\ccn difli:rcnt practices and spaces inhabited by young people '' ho arc also playing a role in the creation and dissemination or content histurically in the domain of broadcasters and producers. I usc Christine Nippcrt-Lng's ( 1996) work on the relationship hct\vccn home and \\ork (sc~.. also Broadbent. this \olumc), particularly notions of segmentation and integration. to analyse the ordinary ways in which relationships \\ith media figure into the li\cs or the Ltmilics and young people in the study. The three case studies capture the tension bct\\Ccn the material and symbolic (Livingstone 2007) exhibited in Ill'\\ media technologies as \\ell as the multiple spaces and negotiations of home by c:-.ploring the relationship between home and work, the representations and c:-.prcssions or the self across domestic space and profile pages and the relationship bet\\ ccn hobbies, school and leisure spaces.

The 'moral economy of the household' is expressed through the process of objectification, incorporation and conversion, wherein new media technologies become a normal and accepted part or everyday Ii k: they become domesticated. Building upon the work on domestication, Llainc Lally (2002) studied the introduction or the home computer and the processes underpinning the appropriation and ownership or computers and other related assemblages in the home. Her work critiques Silverstone, llirsch and Morley\ notion that Ill'\\' media technologies arc the only domestic objects that exhibit double articulation. Lally contends that other objects such as the refrigerator door and filing cabinets also play a dual role in the household. Moreover, Lally emphasizes the importance or understanding the

64 !Jigital /1nthropologr

Snr .\!cdiu l(chnologics in Flernlar Lik 65


when all that's happening. And I think he's been working on that. disciplining himse!L right .1'' As becomes evident in Jeff's mother\ discussion, it is by no accident that kith'\\ orkspaccs are constructed in the traditional site of household and l~unilial reproduction: the kitchen and dining room. The creation of a workplace in a shared domestic space creates the sense that what kids arc doing on the computer and online is public and thus keeps them disciplined and on task (sec also Lally 2002). A fe\1 parents ha1 e explicitly stated that the transformed orticc space is comcnicntly proximate to\\ here they arc cooking, and thus parents can keep a 1vatchful eye on computer monitors vvhile children do their schoolwork. In addition, the decision to install a desktop computer rather than a more portable laptop computer solidifies this particular area as a homework space, akin to their parent's home offices. But parents arc not the only ones structuring IHlme\lork spaces in and through technology. Evalyn, a thirteen-year-old middle school student, lives in a l{lurbcdroom house in a suburban neighbourhood with her parents and l\\ o siblings. Evalyn and her older brother attend private schooL and her older sister recently started high school at a respected public school in the area. b alyn 's parents arc both professionals who have workcdl{lr a !Cw of the region's large technology tirms, buL in the wake of the dot. com busL they ha1 c become independent contractors and thus work primarily at home. Now that Evalyn has started middle school and is 'not really a kid anymore', she has been spending more time with her older sister. One\\ cckcnd they were talking and listening to music together. and they came up \lith an idea --it might he fun to share a bedroom and convert the extra bedroom into their own home oflice. They moved 'work stuff' and desk stuiTinto Evalyn's room and mo\cd clothing, jewellery and beds to the other room. The work stuff Evalyn refers to consists of desktop computers, a printer, paper, schoolbooks and media dc1 ices, including a shared iPod and digital camera. i\s a place designated for doing their homc11 ork, the kids' office is also a space set apart ti01n the shared l~unily computers and printers that their brother and parents use. For teenagers, Fl alyn and her sister arc unusual in opting out of their own, private bedrooms -an act that seems to run contrary to almost all of the values of individualism and privacy associated with U.S. middleclass life. But as a semiprivate space for Evalyn and her sister, there is a curious symmetry between the integration of work spaces in the home through the olllcc and the resegmcntation of the spaces through the designation of one space as an office and another as a bedroom. While this practice is not as pre\ alent as the transformation of the kitchen table space into an oflice space for homc11 ork, there are a 'aricty of t{mns of this consolidation and sharing of office resources among siblings in other fi"unilics as they gradually learn to integrate work in their own li\ es. i\s Mary Douglas ( 1991) has argued, the creation of home is ultimately tied to controlling time and space to create an infrastructure to tiamc the household as a community. In .letT's home and others like it, where the home oflicc is constructed

Case Study One: From Kitchen Society to Desktop Society


In contrast to the industrial workplace, where the f~tctory gate establishes a clear boundary belween work and domestic life, workers in the kn(l\\ ledge economy maintain tluid boundaries between home and work (Circgg 20 II: Nippert-Fng 1996 ). Joining a con!Crcncc eall during dinner, sorting e-mail while \\atching a mmie with the kids and logging in to\\ ork f(Jr a few hours after putting the kids to bed charactcri/c just a few of the routine \\ ays that work permeates the domes! ic sphere i11 S i Iicon Valley, Calif{Jrnia (Darrah, Freeman and Fnglish-lucck 2007: Lnglish-Lucck 2002: sec also Broadbent, this ,olumc). For youth and children growing up in Silicon Valley, innovation, scll"-rcgulation, compelition and other \;dues associated with work in the lcchnology industry arc as much a part ofc\cryday life as the eompany logos cmhla/Oncd on shirts, hats and bags hanging in their closels. The dol.com bust of2000 further reconfigured this relationship belween home and \\ork as companies hmc downsi/cd and made redundant many of their employees. In response, parents in the t~11nilics I've been researching over the past ti\ c years established new careers as independent contractors and consultants. Inmost instances, the shiti towards consulting and independence increased the permeability of the boundary between home and work i{Jr parents and other l~unily members (Broadbent, this \olumc). The material assemblages associated with adult labour clearly influence the infrastructure of home. Yet they also shape what is seen as the labour of childhood among middle-class tlunilics: school and homework. One of the most interesting aspects of Silicon Valley pro!Cssional households imoh cs the shift tiom the "kitchen table S(JCicty'--a term coined by Marianne Ciullcstad ( 19X4) to signal the centrality of the kitchen table for sociality among Norwegian \\omen to what I call the "desktop society'. For example, .letT, a I{Jurtccn-ycar-old middle school student, lives with his parents and his elder brother in one of the wealthiest areas of Silicon Valley. Both of .JciT's parents arc professionals, hut his mother recently decided to become a consultant so she could devote more time to the boys' school and extracurricular acti\ itics. Within this remit is the remodelling of their five-bedroom house. /\!though there are two otliccs (one I{Jr each parent) and the two brothers ha\e desk space in their bedrooms, .lciT's mother decided to remove the kitchen table to construct a large desk space where .felT and his brother could do their homework each c\cning. Out of concern i{Jr their media usage, she then decided to make an addition to the home to separate the "work' computer from the 'play' computer. Reflecting on her sons' usc of technology and media, she notes, We do restrict the usc of the computer games and media during homework. And so and I think one of the things that we just had a discussion on is the distractibility of IM [instant messaging] and that\ something that my husband <md I have really talked to Jeff about ... And the concern is the IM and the music and homework. So those three media is [1ic] happening. So 11e're concerned about his ability to stay l(lcuscd on task

l@b#

66 !Jigita/ Anthropologr
in the kill;hen and dining room, parents (Jel'l''s mother in particular) play a key role in structuring the public space in the home and attempting to discipline time. Young peoples' strategies looking like they're doing homework or hiding their use ol' certain programs---in using these media and technologies may belie their structure. However hidden or revealed, they nonetheless continue to discern the relationship between home and work, \\here it is already quite clear to them that within the home there should be spaces for work. The youth-driven creation of a home ollice suggests an even deeper incorporation ol' work into home spaces and poses provocative questions about the changing experience ol' childhood in late capitalism.

Nell A!ediu h'chno/ogies in hernlur !.if(> 67


For young adults such as eighteen-year-old Ann.\\ ho lives on the outskirts ol' Silicon Valley, the entree into networked public culture came through MySpacc (Varnelis 200X). During her junior and senior years ol' high schooL Ann was an active MySpacc user who uploaded pictures and commented on friends' comments on a daily basis. Ann also participated in what she and her friends called 'iv1ySpacc parties', or sleepovcrs that involved dressing up and taking photographs to post on their respective MySpacc pages. Ann and her friends enjoyed trying on sexy clothing such as short skirts, bra tops and fishnet stockings. They also began to make videos ol' themselves doing funny stutr, such as dancing or imitating celebrities. While the pictures, songs, personality quines and other content on her MySpace page changed on an intermittent basis, Ann's
l~nouritc

part of her page, and the

most consistent 1\:aturc ol' her MySpacc page and profile, im oh cd the incorpora-

Case Study Two: Coming of Age in Social Network Sites


A common transformation in household structure over the past lew decades is the presence of media in the bedroom.' llistorically, bedrooms emerged as a key space in the home because they represented a space ol' containment, a place where middle-class parents could keep their chi ldrcn, and particularly their daughters, protected from the outside world (Calvert 1992: Gutzman and de Connick Smith 200X). As a location that tends to be private (or at least is ideally associated with privacy), the bedroom represents an important space 1\x exploration, experimentation and play (Bioustein 2003: Bovill and Livingstone 2001 ). While some parents preler to place media in the public spaces of the home, young people otkn articulate the need for privacy and their own media to he placed in private spaces such as their bedroom. As Me Robbie and Garber ([ 197X J 2000) note in relation to girls, bedrooms are important spaces where young people ICc I relatively liTe to develop or express their sense ol' sci I' or identity, particularly through decoration and organization (Amit-Tala I and Wul 1'1' 1995: Bovill and Livingstone 200 I: Clarke 200 I: Kearney 2006: Mazzarella
2005). Many parents in Silicon Valley feel that when bedrooms become the focal

tion of Ann's signature colours, brown and pink. Describing her MySpacc page, Ann notes, 'It's actually the colors ol' my room so it's like bnmn and pink. And then I don't know. I had ... a default pink so it's like what cv cryonc sees\\ hen they see a comment.' As Ann suggests, her personal page mirrors the pri\ ate space ol' her bedroom at home. The walls of her room arc painted a matte bnmn, and the main features of her room-such as her twin-si/cd comforter, a large desk and a large French bulletin board -arc pink. Other pink and brown accents such as throw pillows on the bed. the ribbon on her bulletin board. the cushion on her desk chair and picture frames--have been carefully selected and arranged throughout her bedroom. For Ann, hnm nand pink constitute the backdrop to her daily liiC in both online and online spaces. Arter accepting an offer to attend a small liberal arts college in Washington State, Ann received an invitation from her future dorm's resident assistant ( RA) to participate in Faccbook, a social network site that (at the time) primarily catered to the college community. Ann's RA sent her an imitation to be a member of the 'Crystal Mountain' wing, part of a \\ idcr net\\ ork of ninety dorm residents attending her nc\v college. Ann began spending hours at a time perusing different people's sites, looking for t~uniliar names and faces and checking out friends of friends. As the summer progressed, Ann increasingly !Cit that she was becoming 'addicted' to Facchook, checking it whcnc\er she had a free moment for status updates (e.g. a change to somconc's profile). She checked in about four or five times per day, and a typical session lasted about ten minutes. Through this brieL repetitive engagement, Ann started to meet the other students slated to live in her dorm, the most important and exciting of these nc\\ connections being her future roommate, Sarah. Describing her L1scination \\ ith her explained: And you can sec everyone else's dorm room and I have groups. Like everyone in my donn room is in this group. And you can sec all the others ... and so I can sec v\ ho my RA is going to he and stu IT and so it's really cool. And then I hav c ... I can shtl\\ you my
0\\

point of their children's activities at home, they lose the ability to monitor and guide their children's activities. Yet, where parents discursively distinguish bet\\ een public and private spaces in the home and attempt to organize their children\ activities in relation to that principle, most young people contested the notion of the bedroom as a definitely private space, even when they are con!Crrcd ownership. In practice, young people note that their parents can hear through bedroom walls and possess the ability to move through spaces. Sharing a room (as well as media and technology) with a sibling has an impact on the sense of privacy teens feel amLin some instances, renders privacy almost impossible. Erecting barriers to separate the parts of the room and creating passwords arc a lew orthc strategies young people use to carve out their own space. Many young people turn to sites like Facebook because they kel that v\ hat they can do and express in these spaces arc more private than their physical homes (see also Miller, this volume).

n Faccbook page, Ann

68 Digital Anthropologr
roommate. It s really exciting. So I can sec her. And so it ... I don't f. nO\\. I canj ust sec a picture or her instead or having to wait and sturf. On:r the summer. Ann and Sarah 'poked' each other and sent each other short messages and comments. Some or these messages were pragmatic. such as when they planned to move into their dorm room. what furnishings they \\ ould he bringing or which classes they planned to take. In addition to using Facchook to communicate. Ann delved into the details of Sarah's Faccbook page for insight into \\hat she imagined would he shared interests. Decisions around \\hat to bring to college \\ere aligned \\ ith a desire to construct an aesthetic balance. She viewed buying nc\\, trendy iPod speakers as a complement to the 'really nice TV' Sarah would be contributing to their room. Ann also hoped that the speakers might create an acoustic space wherein Ann and Sarah could hang out and Iis ten to music together. Ann and Sarah decided to upload a kw pictures of their bedrooms at home onto their Face hook pages to get a sense of each other's style and tastes. Ann was excited when she looked at the photographs am!
Sa\\

.\nr .\!cdiu Technologic.\ in 1:.\'t'!Tdor l.i/(' 69


ard-\\ tnning. l~m fiction \\ ritcr \\ ith l(lllll\\ L'rs

the age of si.\tccJL Fangrrl \\as an

<1\\

throughout the \\ orld and a presence on a number ot' l~1n liction communit:;. sites. Like other youth \\ ho arc intcrcst-dri\ en (Ito. ( )kabc and Matsuda 20 I 0). Fangrrl began her l~1n fiction career rather early. at the age oft\\ ch c.\\ hen she started reading the I /urn /'otter book series. /\tier enjoying the books. she heard about a\\ cbsitc. t~mliction.nct. where stories were created by amateur \\ ritcrs using characters li01n the flw-r1 !'otter series. Similar to the altcrnati\ c ami subaltern readings ol"soap operas and tcle\ ision siHl\\S highlighted by Abu-Lughod (200-1). Mankckar ( llJlJl)) and others (Askew and Wilk 2002: Ginsburg. i\bu-Lughod and Larkin 2002 ). \\ ritcrs of 1~111 fiction de\ clop nc\\ relationships bct\lccn characters and de\ clop altcrnati\ L' interpretations and storylines in com crsation \\ ith the series producers and other readers and \\Titers.' Aller a year or so of a\ idly reading and. c\cntually. draliing a k\\ or her mvn stories. Fangrrl began to concentrate on \\ riting l~m liction I(H the

/Juffi the lciiiiJiirc S'/urcr tcle\ is ion series \\ hich aired bet\\ ccn 1997 and 2003 and
has a steady I(JIIowing through reruns. DVRs and rentals. Fangrrltypically \HOle a story or t\\O each month during the school year and \\Tote at least one story per \\cck during the summer.' !.ike other amateur cultural acti\ itics (Jenkins 2006: Lange and Ito 20 I 0). being. a l~m fiction \\Titer in an era of\\ hat Jenkins (2007) terms participatory culture takes a great deal or ct't(Ht. Rather than spending. endless hours online like some or her peers who have unlimited broadband access. l'ang.rrl used her limited time online \cry slratcg.ically. She logged into her e-mail account I(Jr updates and \lent to sites that she enjoyed and 1alucd to dm\nload and sa\c others stories. \\hich she read later. Aller reading other people's \\ork. she pro\idcd !Ccdback in a l\1icrosoli Word document to be copied and pasted into the comments section online. Just as Lei\ c and Wenger\ ( 1991) extensive \\Ork on communities or practice highlights. Fangrrltook on roles in the community. c\ cntually engaging in\\ hat Ito L't a!. (20 I 0) define as 'gccking out'. a genre or participation that rctlccts deep commitment and engagement in a particular site. community or practice\\ hich olicn im oh cs kedback. commenting. and other l(mns of interactions in (this case) net\\ orkcd spaces

Sarah's signature colours: 'I'm brown and

pink stulfand she\ brown and blue stul'fl' Ann surmised that this aesthetic harmony would also signify a harmonious relationship (Clarke .200 I: Young 2005). For Ann. and many individuals like her. social network sites such as MySpacc and Faccbook play or have played an important role in structuring and sustaining social worlds. including Ann's ability to imagine her future college lik in the donn and establish relationships with nc\\ individuals and communities. Social network sites also provided Ann with opportunities to understand and assert her own sense or\\ho she is and who she would become in the transition !rom high school to college. Much like homecoming. prom and graduation. Facchook. MySpacc and other spaces or networked public culture (boyd 200X; boyd and Ellison 2007: liortinan 1959; Miller 1995; Robinson 2007; Strathcrn 2004; Varnclis 200X) have become part and parcel of the coming-of-age process l(lr teenagers in the United States.

Case Study Three: Locating Connection and Disconnection


Fangrrl and her parents Ii\ cd in a humble. t\\ o-bcdroom home characteristic or Silicon Valley\ early history as ranch land. Like the outside or the home. the interior had been only moderately updated and retrofitted to accommodate nc\\ media technologies. The back porch was modi lied into a small onicc \\hen: the l~unily shared a PC with a dial-up connection to the Internet. established in the late 1990s; Fangrrl's home was the only one in my study of
t~unilics

(sec also Horst ct a!. 20 I 0; Livingstone 200X). 1 As Fangrrl describes her participatitlll.

O\\

in Silicon Valley that still had dial-

I'm good at commcllling Oil other people\ Istories I. just du a lot or comments. Hut it bothers n1e \\hen I like have lot ot' hits but no comments. So I tr;. to comment il" I can. LiJ..e I genera II; have more time to read than I ha1 e to \Hill' because lean read in a minutes. Olien I'll J..inda checJ.. \arious long. ongoing ones to see if the; '\e updated. and if they hcl\C, I'll try to 1\Tite a quicJ.. comment. Sometimes I'll \I rite longer comments ir I have more time. Sometimes I don't hcl\e time at all. In addition to being a reader and commentator. part or honing her crali (and maintaining her crcdibi Iit y) im olv cd rout i ncly \\ atch ing /Juffi the I (1/llf>irc Slurc;: Fangrrl

up Internet access. The t~unily also had an oldcr-modd television. a VCR. a gaming system and desktop PC computers. Despite the lack of cutting-edge technology in her home. Fangrrl\ online practices and usc or new media technologies represented a model of the digital native that is glori1icd in the media and academic press. At

70 !Jigital Anthmpologr
made a lim out of her younger ~istcr, who IO\ cd to 11 atch hours of Huf(i with her: one 11 cckcnd the sisters spent len hours 11atching the series. Fangrrl's sister also likes to suggest new ideas for storylines and new couple configurations between the characters. llo\\cvcr, 1-'angrrl's most valued feedback came fiom one of her 'beta readers', who she met through their participation in a l~m fiction community. Fangrrl also started to take a more active role in other aspects of production, such as creating the art I(Jr her stories. As she described, I will sometimes. instead of' doing lwnle\l'mk, fool around 11 ith l'hotoshop and the digital pictures ... lkl(ne, we had one I digital camera 1- il 11 a-, a lot harder lo, you know. u-,c piclure-;. I had lo like !iii slulfolflhc internet like <I picture of' Angelina Jolic ... lmcanno11 it\ a Jot more fun because I can actually, like you 1-.now decide what im<lgcs I want and then make them ... llut, like, I would also do the lluf'J'y stuff' or 11 hen ncr I take pictures that arc screen captures. I edit them m mi'\ lwo together or something and kinda make a picture for lhe title page oflhe story or something 1'1c \\rillcn. Fangrrl \enthusiasm for her fan fiction IHiting reflects the increasing engagement of audiences and altcrnati1 c communities in the production of media. As notions of production and consumption ha1c become more complex and. in some 11ays, more flexible, framc\\orks such as 'participation' and 'participatory culture' ha1c been introduced. Participation and participatory culture define the new relationships between the medium of digital media and engagement, particularly the ability to create and produce, interact and rccci1 c ked back on productions and distribute them to broader publics. Proponents ofthc shili to participatory culture and participation argue that a I(Jcus on participation acknowledges a broader cultural shili in the access to basic tools of production 1 ia laptops, smart phones, editing soli ware and so on that olicn come prepackaged 11 ith computers, smartphoncs and handheld gaming devices (among other objects). It also acknowledges a shili from what is largely 1 icwcd as passive consumption to active participation that is multiple and 1 aricd. While a textual analysis of Fangrrl's writings might yield interesting insights about the nature of gnm ing up in the contemporary media ecology, it 11 as clear that the frame for her participation 1vas as much about her activities in a variety of fan fiction sites and communities, and the structures and opportunities for expression they provided, as it was about the na1 igation of these \\ orlds in her everyday life. Indeed, what always remained litscinating about hmgrrl was the relationship bct\\ccn her participation in fan fiction communities and her pJacc-hascd communities (e.g. friends, liunily. school and other organi/alions and institutions). Despite her online reputation as a l~m fiction writer, reader and commentator, she noted that only two of her friends at school knew about her writing and achievements. At schooL she had Jiicnds, played sports and was considered to be one of the smart kids (and, crucially, \\as well regarded by her teachers, 1\'110, in turn. aliO\\Cd her extra access to computers during lunch, breaks and alter school). Despite her teachers' assistance prO\ iding access to the lntcrncl and her rccogni/cd prnfilienc~ as a 11riter. Fangrrl did not tell her teachers about her writing. When she started applying to colleges, she decided it would he best to lcmc out her Lm fiction a\\ards and achic\cmenh in her applications. She thought the \\Tiling 1\ould help her in her personal statement and writing samples (\I hal educators describe as lransf'cr) but that outlining her accomplishments might hinder her in a more academic domain. In Fangrrl's case. participation in f~m fiction communities became an outlet for c.'<prcssion and participation, hut she did not sec these communities or places as any more (or less) legitimate for her sense of' self. She relished the challenge or impnl\ cmcnt and tended to find \\Tiling f'an fiction more interesting than her homc\\ork, huL unlike claims about 'girl gccb' being socially inept or disconnected li01n so-called real lil'c, Fangrrl kit no antagonism or unease in place-based communities. In her book !lome and 111)/'k, Christine Nippcrt-J:ng (I <)9(J) describes the relationship between home and \\ork in terms of t110 liamc\\orks: segmentation and integration. Segmentation is f'ound in the industrial \lorkplacc, ''here all connectedness 11ith home is suspended 11hen one \\itlks through the l;tclory gate. !\lost of' the Silicon Valley liunilics in my study can be characlcri/cd as intct!ratcd. meaning that they maintain fluid boundaries bctllccn home and 11ork. Describing the distinctions between working-class attitudes lm\ ards the boundar\ hct\\Ccn home and 11ork. Nippert-Fng notes: We -,hml our larger mutually e.\clusi\c rcalmll'ITiloriL'S h: scpar<lling out a largl'r anwunl or artilitch, acti\ itics, and as-,llcialcs into their 'proper' realm-,. There' i-, <I distinct lime and a distinct place I(Jr e\ crything. as people, oh_1cch, thoughts. <lclions. and beha\ itlrs arc assigned lo either lhe 'home' or ,,mi-.' lcrrilmie-,. As \\e integrate more. posses-,ing smaller mutually C\CJusi\ c home and \I ork tcrrilmil'-,, \I c di-,pLi) ks-, or these \ isibk. -,egmcnting slrall'gics. Compared lo our nw1e segmenting counll'rparts. 11 e arc rL'<td: J(Jr most or these artiJ:1cls and cndc<l\ors, all\ lime. an: place. Jl<lying \er\ littk allcnlinnln their classiilc<ttion and containment. (:--Jippcrt-Lng J<J<J(l: :'iS!) Fangrrl \ ability to segment her 1 arious \\ orlds 11 as. in parL h~ her O\\ n 1;unily\ experience and position in Silicon Valley. At one k1 eL this \\as basic economics. While centrally located in one of the huh Ill\\ ns in Silicon Valley, the public schools in the area were not as highly ranked and tended to of'f'cr 'normal' coursl'S and stressed 'competition', as Fangrrl charactcri/cd her parent\ decisions. To send their daughters to pri1 ale schools ( USS I 0.000 per child annually). the 1;un i1: had to weigh a number of priorities. Their dccisitlns 11crc also dri1cn by \alucs around expression, experience and equity rather than\\ hat Bourdicu and others\\ ould identify as 'conspicuous consumption' practised by others in the region (Shankar 200:\). Trained as artists and educators \\ith roots in some of' the more liberal arenas of the San Francisco Bay area, Fangrrl's parents\ alucd experience and\\ orkcd quite arduously to support their two daughters' interests in and out of school.

72 /Jigitol .'1nthmpologr This process or segmentation also resonates\\ ith the strategies parents and youth exhibited in the two prcv ious case studies. What is particularly interesting about Silicon Valley f~tmilics and their rraming and usc or media and space to structure these acti1 itics is that there arc, at times, at least t\\ o moral economics or the household: one f(Jr the parents and one ror children. The construction or the kids' home otlicc, the customi;~ation or dirf'crcnt media spaces like bedrooms and profile pages and the other rather explicit strategies to segment and spcciali;~c media usc represent a return to the work culture orchildlwod that characterized industrial pre World War II culture. /\s work on the construction or childhood demonstrates ( BuclwL-: 2002: Buckingham 2000: James, Jenks and Prout 19l)X: Zelizcr Jl)94 ), the separation or children rrom the world of'' ork is a relatively recent construction. While young people in Silicon Valley fiunilics arc not expected to bring income into the household, the youth-dri\ en creation or a home ollicc suggests an incorporation or\\ ork into home spaces and, in turn, a transformation in the experience or childhood in late capitalism. Play and leisure gi\c way to work, I(Jcus and spccialinttion, and the expressions or these emerge in the separation and segmentation or physical spaces. Parents in Silicon Valley leach their children strategies to segment as a response to the rapid changes not only resulting from the convergence or new media platrorms and the media ecology but also to the lif'c stages and changes associated '' ith the constitution or and power dynamics\\ ithin the household. Rather than media objects moving tm1 ards a stable state or domestication, there is a much more dynamic and mutable relationship between new media technologies and l~unilics.

.Yett' .\/edio l('cllllologic., in l:'tcrrdul Uti' 73

In a recent tribute to Roger Sih crstonc, media studies scholar Sonia Li\ ingstonc
(2007) considered the theoretical and methodological challenges of carrying out

Towards a Digital Anthropology of Everyday Life


This chapter has I(Jcuscd on the ways in which the creation and engagement '' ith media is embedded in the everyday lives of youth and l~tmily and becomes part and parcel or coming of age and the attendant project of the self in Western contexts such as Silicon Valley. /\s I suggested previously, the I(Jcus on new media technologies signals a return to the I(Jcus on the home and domestic space. /\s social and cultural lif'c is enacted in and through \ arious screens that arc situated inside homes and domestic settings such as cars, the locations and contexts or these activities ollcn matter a great deaL c\ en if the meaning-making may be located in ncl\lorkcd and distributed communities (Karanm ic, this \olumc). And while many nC\\ methods and f(mns of research material explore the digitalization of C\cryday life through the media and the Internet, many or these l(mns gain analytic po\\Cr when they arc accompanied by a commitment to a number of core values associated \\ ith classic anthropological ways or knowing: the attention to change over time, relationships and rclationality and a broad sense of commitment to a site, place, people or practice.

research that reflects symbolic and material dimensions of nc\\ media technologies (Silverstone, llirsch and Morley 1992). While studying patterns and practices in online domains has value, liom an ethnographic pcrspccti\c. the challenge has been to take seriously the relationships bctl\ccn the \\orlds created in these online spaces and places. Doing so docs not necessarily mean pri\ ileging one space m cr the other as more or less authentic hut rather understanding hmv these practices come together and di\ crgc at different points in time. Indeed, and depending upon the research question at hand, BocllstoriT (200X) and others compellingly argue for understanding these practices \\ ithin the integrity of the ,, orlds thcmsch cs. One of the key challenges or a digital anthropology is to disco\ cr nc\\ \\ ays to understand the relationship bet\\ ecn media practices and the constitution of' media\\ orlds in an individual's, community\ or group's life and the different spaces. media and modes through which such cndca\ ours take place. llcrc, notions of the nell\ orkcd self'--\\ here strong and weak tics dominate the interpretations and meaning of the network --lend to collapse these relationships as well as their dynamism O\ cr time. As noted in the introduction to this \olumc. one of the charactnistics of'\\ ork on the digital is the penchant or quest I(Jr the nc\\. Indeed, in one sense this chapter may he \ icwcd as acquiescing to this dri\ c I(Jr the nc\V and esoteric \\ ith its focus on a high-profile region like Silicon Valley as \\ell as youth: one might expect that the lcch-sa\\y youth who constituted the core of' my study'' ould yield quite extraordinary practices. Yet the day-to-day practices of youth and their Lunilics in Silicon Valley--selecting profile pictures, situating media in the home or na\ igating inrrastructurcs---tcnd to look rather nonnati\c and routine. In part. the mundane nature of these practices rctlccts the research I(Jcus upon the domestic and l~nnily life. llo\\cvcr, it also reflects attention to lllll\ ing beyond snapshots to understanding how these media practices emerge and change 01 cr time. 1\nn \ mo\ cs from MySpacc to Faccbook, !'rom high school to college and li01n the l~unily home to the dorm room, while occurring in a rclati\cly short time span, imohc shilis in the relationships bct\\Ccn these spaces as \\ell as in the other key relationships in her lire. For FangrrL the ambi\alencc that she felt in her late high school years about integrating her participation in 1~111 communities \\ ith her academic achic\ cmcnts changed m-er time as she \\ cnt to college and discerned that she could integrate some of these interests into her course\\ ork and major. This ethos of time and altcntion is not necessarily a core \aluc in other disciplines or\\ ith other methodologies: I am ollcn approached I(Jr tips on speeding up the process of' doing ethnography or I(Jr designing diary studies and other tools that enable researchers to see change over time through analyses of back-end data. Anthropological approaches to research do, indeed, lea\ c plenty of room for these innm ati\ c tools (Broadbent, this volume: Drazin, this \olumc), hut the) cannot he u~cd to sidestep

74 /)igita/ Anthmpo/ogr
long-term rl:lationship building, trust and rapport. Moreover, anthropological and ethnographic approachl:s cannot hl: reduced to participant observation and the ethnographic present. To contrast what pl:ople say and do and to understand \\hat practices mean mer time takes more than one way of knowing. Anthropology has ah\ays been \\ell positioned to understand and analyse changes over time; this will become even more important for a digital anthropology to distinguish itself and its analytical perspective in the drive to understand contemporary practices in thl:ir proper context. Connected to the value of time, the third commitment revokes around the humanity of our work and the people we study. While certainly we havl: moved beyond na'ivc notions of giving voicl: to till: people we work with (sec Tacchi, this volume, for a critical reflection on voice), anthropology continues to \aluc the cmic perspective. One of the hallmarks or anthropology and an anthropological approach is a broad commitment not only to participant observation and thick description hut also to particular sites. places. pl:oplcs and practices. While Wl: perhaps no longer identify with or value idcntitil:s as Afiicanists, Ml:lancsianists and so on \\ ith till: same vigour as anthropologists did in the past (although sec Thomas and Slocom 2003 on the salience or area studies), anthropologists continue to value particularity and believe that an understanding or humanity as a whole can he g_leancd throug_h the same ethnographic approaches to analysing small-scale societies that have hccn the hallmark of the discipline for some time. While the research questions may chang_e and we intcg_ratc new forms or material and analyses- - fiom visual i~:ations. usc or profiles and other possibilities that come with the dig_ital -the f(Jcus upon the C\ cryday lived experience and the ways in which it is intricately connected to the big_ picture continues to be anthropolog_y\ particular perspective on and contribution to our understanding of humanity.

Sell' .\fediu l(cluwlogie.l in /:'\'en du1 U/('

75

4.

Ito. Okabc and Matsuda (2010) utili~:c the not1on or gcmcs or participation' to capture the I(JCL\scd a11cntion to a particular acti\ ity as \\ell as the interpretations ofthosc acti\itics in socially mcaning_ful and contc\tual \\a)S.

References
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.l

Notes
I. A lcng_thicr version of this section \\as published in the chapter titled 'Aesthetics of the Self': Dig_ital Mediations', in Daniel Miller, cd., /1nthm;wlogr am/ lndil'idllals (Oxf(ml: Berg_. 2009). from studies or television and celebrity to work on l~ms' rcading_s of popular culture such as Star 7ick, 8uffi the linn;1ire Slurer and other popular shows. there continues to he a growing recognition that audiences arc not passive consumers or media and, in I~Ict. olicn write and produce thl:ir own amateur interpretations. Thl:sc interpretations olicn circulated underground through /incs and other subcultural f(mlls or dissemination and, increasingly, have found voice in online venues such as l~mfictionalley.com and other specialist sites ( Baym 2000; Jenkins 2006 ). Because Fangrrl still actively writes l~m fiction and the stories arc searchable online. I ha\c not included excerpts of the writing_ discussed here.

2.

3.

l
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~4~

Geomedia: The Reassertion of Space within Digital Culture


Lane DeNicola

Space, Media and Their Globalization


Anthropology has rccognizt:d ror some decades that the qut:stions or culture with 11 hit:h it has been <:ngagcd for so long arc today int:luctably cntangkd with cont<:mporary ckvdopmcnts in t<:chnologics or mediation. St:\-cral years prior to Googk's transf'onnation li01n th<: tTscarch project ortwo Stanford doctoral stucknts into an incorporated commcrt:ial firm (and more than a decade and a half'bcl"ix<: goog/e would become a common vnb) Ciupta and Ft:rguson ( 1992) made what was th<:n a profound claim: Existing symbiotically with the commodity l(mn. prol(lllndly inllucncing even the r<:mot<:st p<:opk that anthropologists ha1 c made su<:h a ktish or studying, mass m<:dia post: the t:karcst chalkng<: to orthodox notions orudturc (I X-19). That claim and th<: t:halkng<:s they obs<:ncd have mushroomed in th<: last t11cnty years, C\Cn ir in the context or an anthropology or digital culture- the claim\ potency seems diminished in hindsight. What is perhaps more striking is that the focus or that artick and r<:lat<:d work or that era 11 as not mass m<:dia hut space. and <:sp<:cially th<: process or ddt:rritorialization. The idea that sracc is made meaningful is of course a Ltmiliar one to anthropologists: indeed, there is hardly an older or better established anthropological truth. Last or West, inside or outside. left or right. mound or lloodplain l"rom at least the time of Durkheim. anthrorology has knmm that the e\perience of sracc is always socially constructed. The more urgent task ... is to roliticizc this uncontc-,tablc obsen at ion. With meaningmaking understood as a practice. how arc sratial meanings established'' Who has the power to make rlaces ol" spaces'' Who contests this'' What is at stake'! (Ciurta and Ferguson 1992: II ) This line of inquiry can today he traced mort: dt:t:ply into digital culture. not only through the fit: ids or social geography and media studies but via a broader spatial turn within the social sci<:nc<:s g<:ncrally. The work I 11 ill elaborate on here attempts to pcrl(mn that tracing. hut 11 ith a specific class or tcclmologics and social relations (here giv<:n the name geomedia) as its anthropological subject.' I am interested first
8()

in clarirying IHm this 11ork is contiguous 11 ith earlier social inquiry into nell media and knm1 kdgc production. and intcr<:sted rurthcr in suggesting some related paths along 11 hich digital anthropology could most producti1 ely dc1 clop its spatial analyses. Underlying my discussion arc two suspicions I can onlv incomplctcl~ articulate or support here. First. gcomcdia demands special analytic treatment. insorar as it is collapsibk to neither digital medium. place-making practice nor representational technology. It comprises. in l~lct. an incluctabk COil\ ngcncc or all three. More speculatively. I pcrcci1 croom i(Jr an argument that gcomcdia 11 ill yet again reconfigure orthodox notions or culture. Far Jiom being a type or media that anthropologists should scrutinize in established ways. gcomcdia arc critical to understanding the full rationale i(Jr an anthropology or the digital. Media scholars and critical historians of communication techno log~ ha1 c illustrated how grandiose claims about the 'death of distance' 11 ere just as central to the utopian rhetoric or'thc ckctronic rc1olution' in the nineteenth century as they 11crc in the digital rc\ olution oft he twentieth (Carey 19X9 ). \Vi th I-:uropcan cult ural norms of leisure travel and technologies such as the steam locomoti1c. the possibilit: of t11 o-way communication 0\ cr long distances 1 ia radio heralded a nc11 age in the popular imagination. the conquering or space and the entrenchment of cosmopol itanism as intrinsic to the order of modernity. Arguably. tC11 aspects or digital media. cyberspace or the network society arc as commonly pcrcci1 cd as rundamcntal as its disembodying aspects. its placclcssncss and subordination of physical pro:-.imit\ to network connectivity (Castclls 1996). Critical geographers. mcan11hik. ha1c led a long-term and highly rclkxivc engagement 11 ith the tools or their discipline. not unlike anthropology\ engagement \\ ith photography. The production and circulation of maps and globes. the dc1clopmcnt or cartographic techniques and apparatuses. coordinate systems. land usc classification schemes and many other spatial technologies or their trade hav c been scrutinized. Neither uncqui1 ocally objccti1 c nor valu<:-ncutral. they ha1c long been employed in the construction of nationhood. colonial exploitation and the planning and administrati1c !'unctions at the core ol' urban planning and global de1clopmcnt (Barnes and Duncan 1992: Circgory 1994: Soja 19X9). Most recently. this scrutiny has been k1clkd at the nC11cr digital tools or their trade. in particular satellite-hosed llmigutionsntems such as the geographic positioning system (CiPS). gcograf!hic ill/imllulioll 1\'\lems (CiiS) and carlh n'IIIOIL' se11si11g (Curry 199X: Harris 2003: Monmonicr and Blij 19%: Pickles 199). 2004: Porteous 19X6: Sieber 2004). Though these 1110 academic traditions hall' del eloped largely in parallel and occasionally c1 en drc11 rrom a common conceptual terrain. they remain segregated by one simple assumption: mass media arc essentially cu/turc!l f!henomena. consumcr-dri1cn and or the masses. 11 hilc maps and cartographic technologies arc more clearly scientific domains and generally 11 ithin an expert pun ic11. Beginning at least 11 ith Latour's We !fat'' .\c'l'ct /Jccn .\lodcm ( ]l)l)J ). it 11 as precisely this presumed schism hcti\Ccn culture and science that brought anthropologists

( ;Ciii//Cdia 83
into proximity with the burgeoning lick! of science and technology studies or STS, and this interaction warrants a brief elaboration.' Prior to the interventions of Latour and his contemporaries (e.g. 1-'orsythc 1994:
PI~!ITcnbcrgcr

de\ icc (Ed\\ ards 1996) to appurtenances that arc personaL portable and pedestrian (Ito, Okabc and Matsuda 2005). Mobile phones. on I~ the most commonmanif'cstation oft hat shill. have seen the broadest analysis in spatial terms,\\ ith portable musil players. portable game consoles and\ chicular mtvigation units rccci\ in g. considcrabl~ less critical scrutiny. Some ha\c argued that this shift intuiti\ ch suggcsti\ c of a nc\\ ly liberated or connected subjectivity. can just as easily yield the rc\ crsc. tethering users to their\\ orkplaccs or shutting out that \\ hich is physically ncar in order to pri\ ilege the remote (Bull 200X). In the dystopian extreme. human bodies themselves arc incorporated as nodes \\ithin a nct\\ork, normati,izing constant suncillancc. Others have observed that this mobilization has precipitated important secondary effects, such as the shi tl a\\ ay fiOJn the busincss-oricnll'd desktop to that of the map as the dominant metaphor f(lr the ordering of in l(mnation. A second obscn at ion\\ ith special import fi.1r gcomcdia is the dcs!ahi/i::alion and ongoing rccon/l~~~~~ation o/llie domi-

1992 ), STS was largely an

interdisciplinary amalgam or the history of technology (a comparatively \Cncrable field with strong tics to museum communities)_ the (also \\CJJ-dc\elopcd) field or the philosophy of science and certain specific schools within the sociology of knowledge. Since at least the mid-l990s, anthropology and STS have shared a predilection ror empiricism at the social and experiential lc\ cis, an interest in comparative, cross-cultural analysis. an understanding or the researcher as the lens through which know ledge production happens and a subordination of the narratives of elites to those of otherwise peripheral populations. i\s I less and colleagues ( 199X) suggested:

Pcrhars anthrorology's most rrol(n!lld contribution to STS as a whole at this roint has been the ethnograrhically-bascd analy;,i;, of the v iewroints of users. raticnts. consumers, cmrloyees and other rublics outside the citadels of ll:chnical exrertise. Anthrorolog; has hclred shift the l(lcus of social studies ofscicncc and technology ti01n the cristcmologically and rolitically problematic question of the social construction or science and ll:chnology to the much more interesting and relevant question or the reconstruction or science and technology by new grours within science, and by the various consumers and publics or science and technology. ( 176)

nant media instilutiom (journalistic comcntions, the publishing and film production
industries. intellectual property law). In comparison \\ ith the pm\erl(dly hierarchical ordering of twentieth-century commercial media, the\ olatilc social and political landscape of journalistic bloggcrs, You Tube regulars. mesh net'' ork ad\ ocall's and open-source soflv,arc seem complex indeed. Arguably this trend is indicati\ c of a broadened attribution of authority. a more distributed and (in the ideal) participator~ l(mn of kmm ledge production. Undoubtedly. the research specialities mentioned so
f~1r can contribute some insights into that trend in the 1\.mn of\\ ork on indigenous

These fields also share the perspective that material 1\.mns can erode, catalyze or entrench systems of value and specific social relations. STS also makes the (oflen explicitly political) move of' taking two of the conceptual linchpins orthc modern era (science and technology) as the most appropriate axes along which critical inquiry into contemporary global society should be developed. This certainly otTers a route through which we might 'politicize the constructed experience of space', as called for by Gupta and Ferguson. In that task both STS and anthropology !~tee striking a tricky balance between. on the one hand. critical scrutiny of dominant institutions (e.g. state-based mapping agencies) and. on the other hand, adding the voices of underrepresented groups (e.g. communities vvitl1in mapped landscapes) to the pool of human knowledge. Yet f(Jr all the critical vvork on spatial knmv ledge and experience pcrl\.mncd within this domain (Bender 200(1: Hirsch and O'llanlon 1995: Low and Lawrcncc-Zuaniga 2003: Tilley 1994), little. if any. of it has yet had to confront the tacit division of the spatial sciences li01n common experience. the analytic segregation or exotic scientific apparatus from the mediation of landscapes via consumer technology. With the emergence of gcomcdia. however, such a confiontation becomes unavoidable. Tvvo aspects of space and media arc l(lrcgroundcd by anthropological 'Vork on contemporary digital culture and must be taken into account in the analysis of gcomcdia. The first is the mohikalion ofdigilal !cclmo/ogr. the untethcring of online interaction 'ia the shi ti away from the computer as a domestic or business appliance or scientific

media, participatory GIS, community inf(mnatics and citizen science (lpstcin 199(,: Ciinsburg. Abu-Lughod and Larkin 2002: Monmonicr 2002: Sieber 2004 ). Two examples lr0111 my own research illustrate the ramifications or these observations for gcomcdia. hrst I discuss the field of earth remote sensing (FRS), and in particular ethnographic work I conducted on the training of satellite image interpreters at a renowned institution in India. i\s a ticld site. this institution is situated within India's tightly regulated cartographic community and is an important participant in India's ncolibcral inl(mnation economy. ;\s the back orticc to the\\ orld, India's sotlwarc dc\clopmcnt and data-processing expertise has a global reputation, one that---- along\\ ith the particularities or India's cxpnicncc \\ ith cartograph) (Edney 1997)- f(lrcground some of the most important aspects of gcomedia. Nc."l.t I outline research on location awareness, locatioJHl\\ arc artcl~tcts and the locationbased services industry. In many ways the conceptual con\ crsc or eye-in-the-sky data-gathering systems. inc"l.pcnsi\ c location-tracking techno log~ JHl\\ piggybacking on cellular communications is finding its\\ ay into an expanding arra) orartcf:tcts and Internet sen ices. In so doing. location and locatability arc being attributed nc\\ significance \\ ithin digital culture. and while this is not \\ ithout iron). it is also in congruence \\ ith an underlying supposition of this 'olumL' as a \\hole: that at the same time digital culture is posited as placeless and homogenizing, \\hen it comes to actual practice. digital culture remains thoroughly socialized and material!\ entangled with spatial experience.

,.
84 /Jig ita/ A nlfm,;wlogr
( H'OIII<'diu

85

Earth Remote Sensing in India


In a special issue ol' h'chnologr und Cultu!"e dn oted to earth remote sensing. Brugioni (I <JX<J) recounted a striking personal experience in his article on the impact and social imp Iications ol' that technology: In 197X, 34 years alkr World War IL my curiosity about the 0J<ui death camp at Auschwit/-Birkenau 11as rekindled 1vhen a television program on the llolocaust was aired. With Robert !'oilier. a research colleague. 11 e began to look back into old aerial photographic Iiles. I knc11 that in 1944 aerial reconnaissance and bombing missions were conducted on the I. (i. larben Synthetic Fuel and Rubber Plant. only 5 miles from the Ausclm il/.-l~irkenau Camps. BecausL' the aerial cameras were turned on a lC11 minutes prior to arriving over the target and Jell running a kvv minutes alter the bomb strike or reconnaissance run. we i(HIIHI detailed aerial photos or the death camp in operation--something that had been entirely overlooked during and alter the 1var. Analy/ing the photos. we could sec I(Jur large complexes or gas chambers. undressing rooms and crematoriums vv hose round-the-clock operation 11as killing about 12.000 people a day. Bodies were also being burned in large open pits or buried in trenches. On one mission. we could spot victims being marched to their death and in another a line or prisoners being processed for slave labor. lsr<Kii experts on the llolocaust hav c described the aerial photos as among the largest caches or ini(Jrmation c1cr uncm crcd on Ausclm itz. The photos arc now on display at the Yad Vashem llolocaust Museum in Jerusalem. the Ausclmit/. Museum in Poland, and <It the National Archives in Washington. (~I) While the remarkable serendipity ol'this anecdote is likely clear. its immediate relevance to digital anthropology is probably less so 1 Images collected by aircrati (and later satellites) were rccogni/cd as having potent strategic value cv en bcli1rc the outbreak oi'World War I. so it is unsurprising that the technology 1vas (like the Internet) gestated vv ithin the military-industrial complex ol' dominant states. Beginning in the I <)60s, the utility ol'such imagery fill civil applications (weather lilrccasting. natural resource prospecting and imcntory, disaster assessment) '"'as reali/cd. resulting in the deployment ol' a variety ol' new satellites and supporting intiastructurc (initially by the Cold War supcrpmvers but later by a div crse array ol' states). The first tentative li1ray into 1-:RS commercialization was marked by the French SPOT system (Satellite Pour !'Observation de Ia Terre), the first satellite-based U<S system designed tillln the start to l'ultil explicitly commercial purposes. In the three decades since. the number and technical capabilities ol' commercial ERS systems have expanded dramatically. That development has had two profound results. First. the collection ol' aerial tmagcs once a logistically complex bespoke acti\ ity liJCuscd on limited geographic regtons is now routine. continuous and global in scope. FRS represents, in fact, a massive (and rapidly expanding) visual database of the terrestrial surl~tcc. one that specialists admit is outpacing our data-mining abilities (and data-handling policies). Second. though previously confined to highly spcciali/cd l~tcilitics run by state and commercial actors. the vast majority of today\ Internet users have easy access to

satellite imagery. in many cases imagery that is timcl: enough and of high enough resolution to identify small buildings and quite recent constructttlll. lurthcr. that imagery is increasingly vvmcn into pedestrian experience. both online and o!T. India\ earth remote sensing programme is a prominent l'caturc on this landscape. I have noted pt-cv iously (DeNicola 2007) lum Wesll'rn dtscourse olicn depicts space research and industry at a doublc-rcnwv c from the so-called de\ eloping 1\orlcl. 11hcrc high technology am! nationalistic goals arc mcrshadm\ed b: patent human needs and a lack of basic infrastructure. Yet adv ocatcs or spaCL' industriali/ation allege a specific utility fill ERS in socially rclcv ant applications. and India has amassed more than li\c decades of experience in space. 11 ith systems and capabilities rivalled today only by those of the United States and China. M: interest in ethnographic research into India's ERS programme 1vas not to sed. a resolution to debates about dcv clopmcntalism and space research. but to understand the meaning-making occurring around and through\\ hat I pcrcci\ cd as a nascent\ isual medium. Clearly the meaning-making attached to such big science efforts docs not occur outside the postcolonial context (Prakash 1999) nor outside the rhetorical and material advocacy olTRS in the developing v\orld by institutions such as the World Bank and the United Nations (Morgan I 090). but I 1vas at least as intcrcsll'd tn the peculiarities of satellite images as a digital commodity. ho1v they 1vcrc being circulated- or blocked tiotn circulation in a highly competitive and volatile global data market \\here it is ollcn dirticult to discern commercial entities tiotn organs of the state. military from civil applications. Further. I \\anted to ktlll\\ about the construction of expertise and prol'cssional identity among trained satellite image interpreters in India. particularly given the rapid populari/ation of the visual limns that arc their subject. In a triangulation on these questions. my lieldvvork and research crystalli/cd along three analytic threads. First. I noted the conspicuous rhetorical prcsctll'C of India's LRS satellites thcmsclv cs. in cv crything from Ill:\\ spa per accounts to industrv trade literature to the published musings of India\ president: We seem to have a blind admiration olanything done outside our bmders and very little belief in our own abilities ... I have in my possession a )llossy. supl'rhly produced (Ierman calendar\\ ith maps o!Turope and Africa based on remok selbin)l. \\'hen people arc told that the sakllite that took the picture \\as the lndi<ln Remote Seming Sakllitc. thcv lind it hard to believe. They have to be shov1 11 the credit line' under the pictures. ( Kalam and Ti\\ari 2004: 27) A diachronic analysis of the Indian space programme and especially its U<S satellites is illuminating. Mainstream media em cragc of India's launch of CARTOSAT-1. for example. lauded the local linn responsible (Mccon) li)r the launchpad construction and described the launch vehicle as an 'engineering man cl- -a totally indigenous albirl that I has brought the nation [into I the select eluh of countries having this rare c.xpcrtisc . The special rclcv a nee of the claim ltcs in the context that India had prcv iow;ly

S6 /)igilol A nlhi'Ofwlogr

been imrorting the cryogenic technology crucial to hemy-lill boosters rrom the United States. When the Americans halted that imrort as part or international sanctions against India\ 1992 nuclear test detonation. India succcssrully de\ eloped its 0\1 n cryogenies capacity. The spectacular launch and deployment or FRS satellites in,okcs what Nyc has labelled 'the technological sub Iimc', the repeated experiences of <1\\ c and\\ onder. olkn tinged \\ ith an clement of terror, which people hm C \\hen COil fronted with particular natural sites, architectural forms, and technological achievements' (Nyc 1994: X\ i ). With thci r remoteness from and invisibi Iity 11 ithin our everyday experience, FRS sa tell itcs operate as an a Ilegory of statehood. IL as Abraham ( 199X) has suggested. nuclear test detonations have rei lied the Indian state in their construction oi' an 'cnunciatory' capacity, ERS satellites haw worked similarly in constructing the Indian state as a particular oh.\ermlional capacity with global pun ic11. A scc,,nd analytic thread in this 11ork examined the social lik of Indian FRS ima~crv itscll~ as discursive artl'l~tct and global information commodity. Despite the :ha~rcd genealogy of ERS and cartography (no I to mention the continued application of the fonncr to the latter), the planning and inliastructurc that supports satellite image collection is quite distinct from that of ground sur\cy and measurement. While such images olkn may be used to produce maps, they represent in a 11 ay quite distinct from them. LRS is clearly a genre of scientilic visuali;ation akin to the cloud chamber images of high-energy physics (Galison 1997) or the ultrasound images employed by obstetricians (Yoxcn 1994). Yet its applications and popular circulation arc considerably broader than most such examples. Its subjects and \ isual grammar arc not only less alien to the layperson. they arc olicn of direct and obvious political relevance (e.g. Amos 200:\). LRS imagery is also a hiLdl-volumc commodity in comparison with most scientific visual forms, with a consumer base that spans a dinying variety of industries. lnsol~tr as it is astrategic technology (like uranium purilication and cryptographic algorithms), state ~ovcrnmcnts have a v cstcd interest in regulating ac<:css to both the technological ~rtcl~tcls (e.g. satellites) and data of ERS. As a technology of suncillancc (like closed-circuit television <tnd DNA analysis), []{S---even in its cmironmcntal applications---introduces 111any or the dillicult ethical (Marx 2007) and sociolegal (Lynch 2003) issues typical of surveillance and forensics tcclmologics, and in l~tct LRS has seen growing forensic and evidentiary usc (Markowitz 2002). Despite the acknowledged expertise required for rigorous interpretation. FRS imagery dra\\S technically and visually on a photographic vernacular that moderns arc acculturated to, and it is increasingly recognized as an artcl'ad \\ ith aesthetic potential (U.S. (icological Sur\'cy 2002). The dense intersection ol' meanings atlachcd to LRS as a visual I(Jrnl suggest it may transgress the circulatory patterns of other media, challenging conventional analytic approaches. The third and final analytic thread of this multisitcd ethnography l(lllm\cd satellite image interpreters, and more spccilically their early sociali;ation and l(mnal education as obser\'cd at the Indian Institute of Remote Sensing (I IRS), the premier

institution 111 India and arguably most of Asia for such training:. I documented the \ isual and spatial practices ol'this interpretive communit) orc.xpcrts 11 hile l(mnalh enrolled as a student at IIRS in the city of lkhradun. !.ike the lirst-ycar students oi' ( iood's ( 1994) ethnographic account oi' medical schooL ncophyll' satellite image interpreters must go through a transformation in hm1 they sec, taking images that arc olkn quite abstract or misleading to the layperson, parsing them into rck\ ant features and projecting them mentally as shado11 s of three-dimensional landscapes. Inc\ itably, classificatory ambiguities arise is this bright red patch producti\ c. healthy forest, or is it useless scrub')_ and in such cases the llcdgling interprcll'r must rely on a quite partial and subjccti\ e set of categories (Robbins 200J ), typical!) one inherited timn the state. Also of interest here'' as the bet that image interpreters pcrcci\cd thcmsch cs not only as key participants in India\ llC\1 information economy but as ineluctably caught between analogue and digitaL bct\lccn old and nc11. In comparison with their colleagues in most other inl(mnation technology subliclds \\ orking in telecommunications, business or linancc, students of remote sensing and gcoinl(mnatics seemed to ackmm ledge a greater lc\ cl of intimacy'' ith the ph) sica I 11 orld, insoEtr as it is, by definition, their subject. This suggested a possible tension bet\\ ccn material and immaterial (and more broadly bet\\ ccn diiTercnt concepts of space) that have persisted throughout this 1 cin of research. ERS has been a comparali\ ely easy target I{Jr critique on multiple lionls. The mutually constitutive relationship bel\\ ce11. on the one hand. geographic kno11 ledge (and the tools l(ll its production) and. on the other hand, cultural concepts or society and em ironment has been ''ell thcori;cd (Aitken and M iLhcl 1995: Han cy and Chrisman 199X: Macnaghtcn and U rry 199X: Pickles 1995: Sheppard 1995 ). Cicographcrs in particular ha\ c noll'd that. as 11 ith any cartographic ll'clmology, geographic tcchnolog:ics present a \'aricty or thorny issues, particularly to those interested in supporting more inclusi\ c scientific research and more just social policy, 11'ilhou/ simultaneously enabling: sun cilia nee or en\ ironmcntal exploitation (Monmonier 2002: Sieber 2007). ERS has enjoyed substantial gnl\\th in ci\il application and 110\1 circulation into popular discourse, but it has also been critici;cd as a tool that can displace more humanistically engaged l(mns oi' knm1 ledge (Parks 2005) or tc lcscopc historical phenomena inlo a distorted. present ist narrat i\ c ( Litti n 200 I). For example. the centuries of deforestation and O\ crdc\ clopmcnt in Europe and North America that occurred prior to the ad\ cnt of aerial photograph) could not possibly have been documented with the same comprchcnsi\ cncss or le\ cl of dctai I that much more recent acti\ity in the dc\cloping 11orld has seen. While unquestionably enhancing state ability to delineate boundaries, conscnc resources, impnn c agricultural yields and mitigate the clfccts of natural and artilicial disasters, as a discursive subject (the critique holds). ci\ il U{S is rundamentally based on a number of problematic assumptions 'rooted in a paradigm of rationality and control ( l.itlin 1997: 26). I return to this critique at the end oi'this chapter. alicr shiliing first to an entirely di lkrcnt case or gcomcdia.

88 !Jigi!ol ,1n!hro;)()logr
as property and suneillance as enabling is indicati1 L' o!' yet another de1 elopment

in the spectrum of phenomena referred to as geomedia. Commercially a1ailable satellite na1 igation (or 'satna1 ') rccci1ers or the t)pc commonly installed in 1 chicks arc only the most 01 crt of location-a11 arc dc1 icc,;. Significantly more pen asi1 c arc the location-finding technologies ( 11 hich oficn do not rely on satellites at all) now typically embedded 11ithinmobile phones. Ironical!:. the continuous pcrsonallocatability that mobile phones prm ide 11 as o!' little general interest prior to its integration with mobiles. In the United State,;. 11 hen the first mobiles (cell phones) become a1ailable to the a1 cragc consumer. US 911 emergency management systems were
01

em helmed by calls from panicked indi1 tduab strug-

gling to identify their 11 hereabouts (such systems hell ing been designed around the norm of fixed landlines). Since cellular telecommunications technically required that indi1 idual units be able to dc!crminc their location 11 ithin a gi1 en cell' an:way. the federal government mandated that all new mobile phones 11ould automatica!!) pro\ ide that location information to emergency responders. It was not long before the general utility (and commercial potential) of prm iding location information to the user was realized. and within the last two decades the location-based sen ices industry has shown explosive growth. Location awareness has become an expected capability of smartphones such as Apple's iPhonc. and gi1 en that such mobile devices arc rapidly displacing desktop computers as the dominant
intcrf~tce

11 ith the Internet.

location awareness is arguably an understudied aspect of digital culture. The location-based services industry emerged largely from the idea that commerFigure 4.1.
llcl\icola
<

!IRS studcnh c'aminc a "'tcllitc photo on a groullll-truthint' ncrcisc. l'hoto hj Lane 21111).

cial scniccs could be targeted to consumers 11hcn they 11crc physically proximate to them (e.g. advertising for a local restaurant sent to the mobiles oi" those passing nearby). but the concept has expanded beyond such straightfonvard applications. Consider f()r example the recent emergence of the check-in on social net11 orking sites. Foursquare. for example. is a social network built entirely around physical places. Members perform a simple check-in via their mobiles upon arri1 ing at specific locales-- home. work. the shopping mall or the local pub. Other members of their Foursquare network receive a message indicating their ne\\ ''hereabouts. possibly precipitating an impromptu rcndc/vous. Members arc also rei\ arded for checking in by accruing points attached to each locale. and acquiring sufficient points earns badges displayed prominently alongside the members profiles. Those '' ith the most check-ins within a given time span may be tagged as the 'mayor' of the locale in question, with many game-style sca1 cngcr hunts and other 1 ariants regularly hosted by Foursquare. Similar fi.mctions have since been employed in Google's Latitude service and Faccbook Places. Just as interestingly. the dangers peculiar to routinely publishing one's physical location hell c been spectacularly highlighted b) sites sueh as PleascRobMe.com and ICanStalkU.com. The crucial anthropological insight in these examples is that. f~1r fimn the erasure of space or the subordination of physical location as irrelevant to our socialnct110rks. physical places arc reappropriated as indelible nodes or strata 11ithin those nct\\orks (DeNicola 2006a. 2006b).

When Things Know Where They Arc (and Remember Where They've Been)
In 2007. New York City taxi drivers staged a t11o-day strike when city administrators mandated that all taxicabs would be required to hmc onboard GPS trackers installed.' The location-finding devices would be accompanied by credit card processing equipment and displays that would make routes clearly visible to passengers. Otlicials viewed this as a mechanism for addressing a variety of transportation management and consumer protection fi.111ctions. while drin:rs felt the measures were tantamount to a new and unnecessary surveillance regime. The cabbies' initial argument- that the monitoring ofthcir location constituted an ill\asion of privacy-got little traction in the mainstream press. but when the New York City Taxi Workers ;\ lliancc filed suit in the US District Court of Manhattan. they took a different tack. The recorded paths taken by cabbies constituted their m\ n behavioural patterns and expert knowledge. they argued. and so were a proprir.:tary resource which they were simultaneously the producers and rightfulmvncrs or. This shiti- -from a framing of individual privacy and surveillance as a tool of coercion to one of information traces

90 /)igilul ;1nlhmfwlogr

( ieo111ediu 91

( 'hina but the spnm ling pan-Asian telecommunications marh;ct [!cncrally. India has been the latest nation to chime in. announcing that the Indian Rc[!ional Na\ i[!alional Satellite System is scheduled for operation by 20 1-l. While the obscn ational capacities of earth remote sensing sate II itcs ha\ c mo\ cd beyond their roles in intelligence gathering and slate administration to being an apparatus of commercial enterprise. it \\ould appear that the spatial-ordering capabilities afforded by !HI\ igational satellites arc still firmly held as cxclusi\ c limctions of the state. Further. we sec in this prioritization that location and the locatability of things and persons has been transformed. tah;ing on a heightened status in the millennia! era in a fashion similar to that of 'attention in the nineteenth century (Crary 1999). Follm\ ing the rcconliguralion of Ia hour hy industrialization and the rise of bclut\ioural psychology. attention became the principal capacity of the 'sane' or mentally healthy subject. Today. instantaneous locatability has become the principal capacity of the 'secure' subject. It is crucial in this context to acknm\ ledge not only the shill limn dcsh;tops to mobiles. but the equally profound shill timn the computer as a dedicated appliance to computing as a generalized capacity (DeNicola 20 I 0 ). Location <1\\ arcncss is no longer cxclusi\ e to dedicated handheld recci\ ers nor e\ en a capability integrated

Figure 4.2.

Jligh-preeision proli:ssional-grade Iii'S reeei\cT. l'hoto hv J)a\id Monniaus. a\ailahlc

under ( reali\ c ( 'onmwns 'Share-Alike' l.O.

It is important to take note of how these developments play out at the macro level as well as the micro. The term (if'S has become synonymous with satellite-based navigation. hut the Cilohal Positioning System-- controlled hy the US Department of Dc!Cnse-is actually only one of a growing number of such systems. Though it has yet to achieve its envisioned status. the Russian Cilonass system began deployment in the early 19XOs and has been partially operational since 1993. A global. all-\vcathcr navigation system independent of the US military was of obvious utility during the waning years of the Cold War. Cialiko. on the other hand a civilly controlled alternative to CIPS--has been under development by the European Union since 1999. It promises several levels of scr\ icc. including a robust 'li!C critical' service for specialized applications. In :2003. China began backing out of its participation in the Cialileo programme and moved instead to design its own system. called lkiDou or Big Dipper. Scheduled to be operational in :2015. it is slated to sene not only

Figure 4.3.

i\n array ol'loealion<l\\are de\iees. l'hoto h\ \like Roach. '"ailahlc undcT ('reati\c'

Comtnons 'AIIrihution Share..\like' 2.0 lieneric.

92 Digilal /1nlhmpologr
into mobile tdccommunications dc,iccs. It is a function appearing in a growing array of pedestrian artcl~tcts not typically perceived as information technology, We can find, for example, a number of social nct\\orking sites for bicyclists or runners built around the exchange of user-generated maps and paths. The data for these paths may be collected using a smartphonc, but ollcn they arc more scamlessly acquired using athletic trainers (tennis shoes) embedded with a (iPS receiver. Several styles of such digitally enabled footwear ha\C been available to consumers for a number of years. originally marketed in the United States as a means of keeping tabs on one\ children or elderly relatives . .~/Jimc is a neologism coined by science fiction author and design theorist Bruce Sterling in his bricl"monograph, Shaping lhings (Sterling 2005). We can think orthc term as an abstract placeholder akin to the term 1ridg;d While a widget is any artefact that can be mass produced. a spimc is any artcl~tct whose history and contextual details of production, consumption and exchange have been embedded within the artefact it sci rand rendered legible to the user. As its advocates would have it the spime represents a revolution in the relationship between humans. artcf~tcts and the built en' ironmcnt. With an amalgam of other technologies, Sterling stipulates that ubiquitous location awareness would he key in the development or spimes, and he optimistically proposes an "Internet of Things' that could dramatically enable ethical consumption and more sustainable design. Once inscribed with their own material histories and dependencies. artcf~tcts thcmsclvcs would serve as links into the networks ofindi\ iduals and communities that produce and consume them. They become animated to an extent and arc accorded agency. interacting with humans and each other via a literal network. We could go so far as to dcscribc the proli kration of spimcs as the emergence of a Taccbook of things': if part of the clfcct of Faccbook is to put on display the , arious activ itics comprising social relations (Miller 20 II), populating the world with spimcs (according to advocates) would do the same for human--artcl~tct relations, rendering them visible to the individuals and communities with which that object is entangled.'' From the perspective of digital anthropology, the spime represents a complex of desires and anxieties that have utility in the analysis of contemporary digital culture. It is a conceptual vanishing point, ordering a growing di\crsity of material objects and information technologies. With theoretical work in space, experience and material culture, the spimc provides a framework that could tic together both previous work and proposed research across a number of otherwise quite distinct communities. These arc actors for whom physical artefacts and even human bodies arc 'mashable'. contiguous and combinable with the aforcmcntioncd forms of gcomcdia.

( icomcdiu 93

The most significant change l(lr anthropolog\ is l(nmd not in the ~lttention researchers incn:asingly pay to the material and spatial aspects or culture. hut in the ad.JHl\1 lcdgement that lf!UCC i.1 <Ill ('.1.\CII/iu/ COIIIfiO!IL'/1/ of \Ocincllfllll"<lf tflcriiT. \'hat is. anthropologists arc rethinking and reconceptuali;ing their understandings or culture in spatiali;ed 11 a\ s. (I. emphasis added) One or my points in presenting the \\ork abm c and its Jiaming as gcomcdia is that critical imestigators or digital culturc \\ould do \\ell to \(lllll\\ suit. If indeed \\C accept that 'space is an essential component of sociocultural thcor: . the conccptuali;ation or gcomcdia extends that precept into the digital domain. Spatial aspects of digila! culture must hc seen as an essential component of sociocultural theories of the digital. If (to paraphrasc LckhHc }. space is produccd as and through social relations ( Lckb\Tc 1991 }. we do not escape spatial constraints \ ia gcomcdia any more than we escape the constraints or languagc through communications technology. Acknmvlcdging the continuing significance of space is one thing: ho\\Cicr. analysing it is quite another. The physical and the\ irtual become intermingled\\ ith e\ cr liner granularity: l(lr example the anthropologist must increasingly contend 1\ ith the limitations ofcomcntional conccptuali;ations of media and mediation. The t\\o broad obscnations discussed earlier the mobili/ation of digital technology and the rccontiguration of dominant institutions reach an apotheosis in gcomcdia. It is no longer sullicicnt to talk of landscapes being mediated: ''hat '' c must rccogni/c arc those instances where mcdiu hun' hccomc "/undlco;icd". ordered in meaning according to some quite traditional spatial sensibilities. What\\ as once unquestionably an esoteric scientific literacy. exotic technological assemblage and strategic information asset is today perceived as a routine digital llucnc:. c\ cry day consumer techno log) and\ crnacular visual form. llo\1 can \\C address such prol(nmd changes"-' A straightf(lrward step in the right direction \\ould be an c:-.pansion or ethnography of c1 cry day gcomcdia usc and associated changes to our sense of place. particularly with \\ell-established technologies such as satna\ systems and (ioogle Earth. Further.\\ c need to develop a rcpertoirc or mctlwdological techniques l(lr the obscr\ation and analysis or gcomcdia as a genre of digital culture. Theodolites. physical maps and aerial photographs ha\ c been subject to analysis as material and \ isual culture. but equating such objects 11 ith the sociotcchnical phctHlmctwn of location a\\arencss is like trying to understand the subjccti\ c human c:-.pcricncc or\ is ion solely through the study of cameras and photographs. The immaterial paths and continuously updated location streams or gcomcdia present quitc differently fiom other textual and 'isual l(mns. and a holistic treatment dcmands a moditicd perceptual approach. Finally. it is worth considering once agam (iupta and Ferguson's spatial prescriptions: Instead of stopping with the notion or detcrritoriali;ation. the puhcri;ation or the space or high modernity. we need totheoriiL' lw11 space is being rl'lcrritoriali;ed in the

An Anthropology of Geomcdia
In introducing their important Anlhmpologr ojP!ucc und S/wcc, Low and LawrcnccZuaniga ( 2003) echo Gupta and Ferguson\ concerns about the spatial turn:

,
,j
l

94 /)igitu/ /lnthmj){)/og\'

( ;cutncdiu 95

eontcmrorary world. We need to account sociolo~icall: I(Jr the !"act that the distance between the rich in Bombay and the rich in London may be much shorter than that between dilkrent classes in the same city. l'hysicallocation and physical territory. t(Jr so ion~ the only ~rid on which cultural ditren:nce could he mapped. need to be replaced by multiple ~rids that enable us to sec that connection and conti~uity more ~encrally the representation ol"tcrritory vary considnably hy t;tctop., such as class. ~cndcr. race. and sexual it;. <md arc ditrerentially ill ailahk to those in ditrercnt locations in the field of'ptmn. ((iurta and h:r~uson 1992: 10) Along with place making and identity. rc.li.\toncc 11 as identified by Gupta and Ferguson as one of' the major themes arising !'rum their collected explorations ( llJlJ7: 17). As a subject. resistance takes many f(mns in the context ol' gcomcdia. 'Spatial hacktivism'. I(Jr example. has includcd the product ion ol' so-called counter-maps. the coordination ol'protcst activities. the imcntory of indigenous resources and the public disclosure ol' large-scale toxic releases or illegal resource extraction by state or commercial entities. In a di lfcrcnl vein. resistance to spatial digitalization is observable in a di1crsity ol' phenomena. !'rom blockades ol' Ciooglc\ Street\ icw vehicles to location-tracking consumer watchdog groups to new markets for mobile-blocking materials. mobile phone jammers and nwbilc-liTc or WiFi-licc zones. These developments might he usefully compared. I(Jr example. with examinations ol' 'lcclmology rejectors' (e.g. Weaver. Zorn and Richardson 20 I 0). In maintaining a sensitivity to questions ol' power. and by continuing its tradition ol' including voices and scenes ol' resistance. ethnographic work would continue to yield crucial insights into gcomcdia in all its man i f'cstations.

4.

5. 6.

It ts interesting to notc.IHl\IC\Cr. that anthropology and in partiLttlar archaeology has a long-established relationship 11 ith I.RS. principally in its application to the sun cy and planning or archaeological sites and digs. (if'S trackers consist of a Cii'S rccci1cr (11hich pnllidcs position and 1clocit~ data) and a recorder that stores the location data at regular in ten a is. I would he remiss \\ere I to not mention Tales of Things (http: taksofihings. com). a project ol'thc l'cntrc l(n Ad1anccd Spatt~tl Analysis at llni\L'rsitl (()lIege London. The\\ cbsitc opines: Wouldn't it be great to link an; Pbject directly to a, idellnlemor\ or an article oi'tc,t its history or back~round'' Tales oi'Thin~s allm\sjust that\\ ith a quick and easy \\ay to link any media to any object 1 ia small printable ta~s knm1 11 ~1s QR L'Pcles. llm1 about tagging a buildin~. your old antique clock or perhaps that object \Pure about to put on cBay''
describin~

Technologies such as C)R (quick response) codes pnn ide a diiTcrcnt aspect or sptmcs unique identi/icution than location technologies such as (iPS.

References
Abraham. I. I t)l)~. The .\!oking ojthc lniliun.ltomic Nomh: Science. Sccrccr und the !'ostco/onio/ Stole. New York: Zed Books. Aitken. S. C .. and S. M. M ichcl. 1995. Who Contri1 cs the Real' in ( i IS'' ( icographic Information. Planning and Critical Theory. ( 'urtogrup!tr und Cicogtuj>hic In/ormotion Sr.1tems 22( I ): I 7 29. Amos . .1. 2003. ~~lll'imnmcntul ..1.\'j}('C/S o( .\!odcm Onslwrc Oil und c;us /)nclojiIIICnl. Testimony to !he Committee on Resources or the l!nited States I louse of Rcprcscntati\cs. Subcommittee on 1-:ncrgy and Mineral Resources ( 17 September session). Barnes. T. .1 . and .1. S. Duncan. cds. 19Y2. II iiting II i11fd,. /)i\C0/11'\C. li.rt. and .\lctuf!hor in the Rcjnc.\cntution ojiundiCitf!C. Nc\\ York: Routledge. Bender. 13. 2006. Place and Landscape. In 1/undhook of .\lutcriul Culture. cd. C. Y. Tilley. W. Keane. S. Kiichlcr. M. Rm\ lands and P. Spycr. 30.\ 2-1. L()ndon: Sage. Brugioni. D. A. llJ~lJ. Impact and Social Implications. Jiclmo/ogJ in .')ociefl II: 77 ~7. BulL M. 200~. Sound .\!mcs: il'od Culture ond L rhan I:~IJWI'i'ncc. London: Routledge. Carey. .1. W. 19~9. ( 'ommlmiuttion usC 'u/turc: l:'s.lu\'s on .\lcdiu und Socii'll'. Boston: Um1 in Hyman. Caste lis. M. llJ%. The Ri.1c o(t!tc .\'cftl'OI'k Socii'lr. Vol. I. Cambridge. M A: Black\\ ell. Crary. .1. llJ9lJ . .'-)U.\f!CIIsions o( l'ctccjJ/ion: lttcntion ..'l/wc!uclc. and .\lodcm C'ulturc. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press.

Notes
I.

2.

3.

The term gcosputiu/ (!'rom whence gcomcdia dcri 1 cs) is dis! inct liom spatial in that it concretely rcl'crs to the terrestrial globe. whether in the spcciJic quantitati1 c sense ol' an earth coordinate system or in the more abstract human sense ol' landscapes. Domiciles. churches and business oniccs have often been analysed spatially. but to analyse them gcospatially pulls them out ol' abstraction and situates them within a particular and finite space. the terrestrial sphere. .'-)utcllitc-halcd nutigotion.l:rstems arc used to ascertain precise three-dimensional locations within a global coordinate system. Gcogrophic in/imnotion srstcm\ arc essentially databases whose principal index is a location (though they typically include specialized components f(Jr visualization. analysis and many other !'unctions). l:'orth remote sensing entails the gathering and analysis ol' photographs or images ol'thc earth\ surlitcc (typically 1ia aircrall or satellite). a technique employed in a broad array ol' ci1 il and military applications. STS is also referred to variously as science. technology and society or simply science studies. l'or more detail on this genealogy. sec Hess ( 1997).

96 !Jigital .lnthm110/ogr

c;coll/cdio 97

Curry. M. 199X. /Jigitall'lacc.l:': l.iting ttith Gcogm11hic lnjimnalion lichnologics. London: Routkdgc. DeNicola. L.A. 2006a. (iPS. In l:'nncloficdia ojl'rintiT, cd. W. Ci. Stapks. 256 9. Westport. CT: ( irccm1 ood Press. LkNicola. L.A. 2006b. The Bundling ot'Cicospatiallnt'ormation with 1-:\cryclay Experience. In Suncillancc and Sccurilr: Teclmological l'olitics and l'mrer in /:,._ errdat U/i'. cd. T. Monahan. 243 64. Nc11 York: Routledge. DeNicola. L.A. 2007. Techniques of the Lm ironmcntal Observer: India's Earth Remote Sensing Program in the Age of Cilobal lnlixmation. PhD diss .. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. Troy. Nc11 York. DeNicola. L.A. 2010. The Digital as Para-11orld: Design. Anthropology and lnlill'mation Technologies. In /Jesign AnthmJ)()IogL Ohjec/ Culture in the] Is! CenIIIIT. cd. A . .1. Clarke. 1% 205. Wicn. NY: Springer Vienna Architecture. Ldncy. M. II. I 997. ,'vfaJI{!ing WI /:'nzllirc: The Ueogru11hical ( 'onslmclion o/Bril ish India, 1765 /843. Chicago: University oiThicago Press. Ed\\ ards. P. N. 199(1. The ('/used Hl!l'ld: ( 'olllll/llen and the l'olitics of!Ji.\coune in Cold 111ar/1merica. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Epstein. S. 1996. Impure Science: /1/DS'. Aclit'i.lm. and the l'olitics of Knmtlcc(P,c. Vol. 7. lkrkclcy: University ot'Calilim1ia Press. Forsythe, D. 1-. 1994. STS ( Rc )constructs Anthropology: A Reply to Fleck. Social Studies ojScicncc 24( I): 113 23. Galison, P. L. 1997. Image and f_ogic: :1 Afalcrial ( 'ul/71/'e of;\ficmphrsics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Ginsburg. F. D .. A.-L. Lila and B. Larkin. cds. 2002 . .Hcdiu lllllld1:. 1nthro110logr on \'ctt 7LTmin. lkrkcky: University ot'Califim1ia Press. ( iood, B. 1994. Medicine. Rul ionalil.l', and Frpcriencc: An .1nthmpologicall'cnpeclite. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. (ircgory. D. 1994. Gcogro11hical lnwginalions. ('ambridge. MA: Blackwell. (iupta. A .. and .1. Ferguson. 1992. Beyond 'Culture': Space. Identity. and the Politics of DiiTcrcncc. C'ul!uml Anthmpologr 7( I): 6 23. (iupta. A .. and .1. Ferguson. 1997. Culture, l'mt'CI; !'lace: 1:. \'fllorulions in Critical ;1nthm11ologr. Durham. NC: Duke University Press. Harris. C. 2003. Satellite Imagery and the Discourses of Transparency. PhD diss .. Univ.:rsity ot'Calililrnia San Diego. llarvey. F.. and N. Chrisman. 19lJX. Boundary Objects and the Social ( 'onstruction of (i!S Technology. /:'mimnmcnl and !'Ianning .1 30(9): 16X3 94. I less. D. .1. 1997. S'cicnce ,'\tudies: An AdtamHIIn!mduclion. Ncv1 York: New York University Press. Hess. D.. G. Downey. L. Suchman. D. llakkcn and L. Star. 199X. Obituary: Diana E. Forsythe (II November 1947 14 August ll)lJ7). Social Studies ofSciencc 2X( I): 175 X2. llirsch. E.. and M. ()'llanlon. 1995. The,ln!lllollologro/Landlcalle: !'enpectites on !'lace ami S/wcc. Oxliml: OxlimllJniv crsity Press.

Ito. M.. D. Okabc and M. Matsuda. eds. 2005. l'crsonal. l'nrtuhl<'. l'cdeslrian: The J/ohi/e 1'/wne in.!a;wncsc Uf(>. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Kalam. A. P.J.A .. and A. Tiv\ ari. 2004. Wings o/Fire: . In. 111/ohiograllhr. II) dcrabad: Universities Press (India). Latour. B. I <)93. 11( llutc .\'etcr Been .\lodem. Cambridge. MA: llarv ard Univ crsity Press. Lc!Cbv rc. II. I lJ9 I. The l'roduclion ofS/}(tcc. Oxford: Black\\ ell. Littin. K. 1997. The Gcndcrcd Eye in the Sky: A Feminist Pcrspcctiv con Farth Obsenation Satellites. Frontiers: .l.!ollmal o/lflmwn\ Swdies IX(2): 26 37. Litfin. K. 2001. The CilobaliYation of Transparency: The Usc ol' Commercial Satellite Imagery by Nongovernmental Organizations. In ( 'ommcrcial Ohserntlion Satellites: At the /.coding ~:(~P_c o/Cilohal Tm!llfhll'enn. cd. J. C. Baker. K. M. O'Connell and R. A. Williamson. 463 X4. Santa Monica. CA: RAND and the American Society of Photogrammctry and Remote Sensing. Lm\. S. M .. and D. Lm rcnce-Zuaniga. 200.'1. The. lntlllol)()logr n/.'l/wcc and !'lace: l~ocaling Culture. Hlackv\cll Readers in Anthropolog]. Malden. MA: Blackv\cll Publishing Pro!Cssional. Lynch. M. 2003. (iml's Signature: DNA Proliling. the Ne\\' (iold Standard in Forensic Science. Fndemor 27(2): 93 7. Macnaghtcn. 1'.. and .1. Urry. 199X. ('on/c.\ led .\aturc.1. Thousand Oaks. CA: Sage. Markowitz. K . .1. 2002. Legal Challenges and Market Re11ards to the Usc and Acceptance of Remote Scnsi ng and Digital lnlimnat ion as h idcnce. nuke l:.nt ironmental Lmt and !'olin Fomm (Spring): 219 64. Marx. G. T. 2007. Surveillance. lnl:'tiCnloiiCdiu ojPritacT. cd. \\. (i. Staples. 53.+44. Westport. CT: Grcem1 ood Press. Miller. D. 2011. Talcsjiwn Facchook. Cambridge. liK: Polity Press. Monmonicr. M. S. 2002. S"pring \1'ilh Maps: Surnilloncc Technologic.\ and !he Future o/Primn Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Monmonier. M .. and H . .1. de Blij. 19%. l!o11 to Uc trith \lafil. 2nd cd. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Morgan. Ci. 1990. Remote Sensing Activ itics in the World Bank: A Rev icv\ of Experiences and Current Technical Capabilities. In Sutcllilc Remote Scn1ing/iil'. lgrinrllllml l'roiecls. ed. J. P. (iastellu-Etchcgorry. I I 0. Washington. DC: \Vorld Bank. Nyc. D. L 1994. American Technological Suhlime. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Parks. L. 2005. Cultures in Orhil: Satellite.\ and the Telni.1uol. Durham. NC: Duke University Press. Plaffenberger. B. 1992. Social Anthropology ot'Technology . . 1nnual Rniett' o/.lnthmpologr 21: 49 I 516. Pickles. Led. 1995. Ground Tmth: The Sociallmlllicalinns n/C'cngm;Jhic /njimna1ion S\'.1/ems. New York: Gu illiml Press. Pickles. J. 2004. A !lis torr ofS/wces: ( 'arlogra;Jhic Rm.1on ..\lufifling, and !he (i,oCoded f'v!!l'ld London: Routledge. Porteous . .1. D. 19X6. Intimate Sensing. Area I X: 250 I.

98 /Jigital Anthro;)()/ogr
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Part III Socializing Digital Anthropology

Gcogra;Jhic lnfimnation s:r.11em.1 22( I): 5 I 6.


Sieber, R. E. 2004. Rewiring f(Jr a GIS/2. ( 'urtogrophico 39( I): 25 39. Sieber. R. E. 2007. Spatial Data /\ccess by the (irassroots. Cartogra1Jhl' and Geo-

graphic lnfimnation Science 34( I): 47 62.


Soja, E. W. 19X9. Pus/modern (ieogmphic.l: The Remscrlion o/S/wce in Crilical

Social Theon. New York: Verso.


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Sociolog\' am/ ffi.1/orr of71chnologr, ed. W. E. Bijker, T. Parke Hughes and T. .1.
Pinch, lXI-303. Camhridge, MA: MIT Press.

-5Disability in the Digital Age


Fave Ginshura . b

It is only when I type something in vour L111guage that vou rekr to 111e as k1v ing communication. I smell things. I listen to things. I kel things. I tbll' things. I lool-. 1t things. It is not enough to look and listen and taste and smell and kel. I kl\e to do those to the right things. such as look at boob. and f~1il to do them to the \I rong things. or else people doubt that I am a thinking being. and since their definition or thought defines their definition orpcrsonlwod so ridiculously much. they dPuht that I am a real person as well. I would like to honestly kno11 ho11 many people it" \OU met me Pn the street 11ould hcliclc I 11rotc this. I lind it 1cry interesting b;. the 11ay that L1ilurc tll learn your language is seen as a deficit hut f~1i lurL' to learn my languagL' i, seen as so natural that people like me arc orticially described as mysterious and pu//ling rathLr than anyone admitting that it is themsch es 11 ho arc cont"used. nnt autistic JlL'Opk or other cognitin:ly disabled people 11 ho arc inherently cont"using. \\c arc cv en v ic11 cd as non-communicative it" 11c don't spcal-. the standard language hut othc1 pt:Llplc arc not considered non-communicati1c it" they arc so oblivious to our 011 n L111guJgc' as to bclicl'l: theY don't C'\ist. In the cml. I 11ant )\HI to kno11 that this has not been inll'ndcd as a voyeuristic t"rcak show 11herL' ;.ou get to lool-. at thL' hi;arrc 11orl-.ings ot"thc Jutistic mind. It is meant as a strong statemL'nt on the oistence and v aim: or mlll} dit"t"erent kinds of" thinking and interaction in a 11orld 11here ho11 close 10u can appear to a specific one or them determines 11 hethcr yOU arc SCL'n as a real person or an adult or an intelligent person. /\manda Baggs. c:--ccrpt fiom audio track ot"YouTuhe 1 idL'O. In .\11 !.unguugc

In Her Language: Case Study One


On 14 January 2007. Amanda Baggs. a then t11 enty-si:\-year-old 11 oman 11 ith autism and a neurodiversity activist. launched a\ ideo titled In .\lr l.anguuge on YouTube. 1 The nine-minute 11ork was shot in Baggs\ apartment in Vermont in the do-it-yourself style typical of many user-generated video 11 orks shared on that platform. For some vie1vers. the unusual combination of sight and sound and the sense or an alternative aesthetic suggests e:\perimental \ideo of the sort seen in museum galleries and
/()/

102 /)igitul .lnthmiJO!ogr


art \cnucs. In ,\!r l.<lll,!!,lfilgc oiTcrs a rivctin[! g.limp~c into Baggs's \ill:. immersing the audience into IHl\\ she experiences the \\orld dillcrcntl; !'rom ncurotypicals'. l:xplaining the, ideo in a \vay that clearly anticipates and ill\ ites nonautistic \ ic\\Crs. Baggs writes: 'The first part i~ in my "nati\ c languag.c." and then the scn111d part pro\ ide~ a translation. or at least an explanation. This is not a \ook-at-thc-autic g.<m king ticak shm' as much as it is a statement about \\hat gets considered thought, intcllig.cncc. personhood, language, and communication. and ''hat docs not.' The first part ol'thc video shows Bag.g.s engaged in a' aricty ol' repetitive gestures around her apartment playing with a necklace. typing at her keyboard. sitting. on her couch. mm ing her hand back ami rorth in !'ron! or a \\ indil\\ to the sound or a \\ ordlcss tunc she hums ofT camera. creating a mcditati\ c. almost mcsmcri/ing. cl'kct. Baggs. v, ho stopped speaking\ crbally in her early l\\ en tics. prm ides the translated portion or the piece !'rom \\ hich the chapter opening quote is taken about !'our minutes into the\ ideo. llcr spoken \'Oicc is rendered' ia an augmcntati\ c communication de\ icc. a DynaVox VMax computer. When she is f'ccling well. she can type on the device at a rate or 120 words per minute. llcr typed \\ords emerge into spoken speech- as \\ell as in yellow subtitles \ ia a synthetic kmale \oicc that. as one interviewer remarked. 'sounds like a deadpan British schoolteacher' (Wolman 200X ). 1 begin my contribution to a book on digital anthropology with this particular case. because In .ifr !.unguoge makes stunningly clear h<m intcracli\ c digital tcchnoi<Jgics can provide unanticipated and p<mcrl'ul platl'orms that all<m those \\ ith disabilities to communicate to a broad range ol'publics. 1 These media enable people with disabilities to engage in a first-person discussion ol' their world and experiences oticn asserting an alternative sense or personhood. as docs Baggs- '' ithnut requiring others to interpret !'or them. Morell\ cr. the accessibility or media !'orms such as YouTubc have dramatically enhanced the possibilities ol'l'orming community !'or those '' lm have ditliculty speaking or sustaining t~Jcc-to-!'acc conversation. J\s Baggs explained on National Public Radio in 200(J: Many or us ha\L a lot or trouble'' ith liicc to Lice interaction and arc also extremely isolated. I. ike a lot "r autistic people, I rarely C\ en lca\e the house./\ lot llr us ha\c trouble 1\ ith spoken language, and so a lot or us lind it easier to write on the Internet than to talk in person. There's a lot or us\\ here we might not he able to meet anywhere else but online. and so that's been a lot ol'where \\e.\e organi;ed. (Shapiro 200(1) In a l'uturc, ideo project (Wolman 200X). Baggs hopes to l'urthcr c\plore her understandings of' communication. empathy and scll~rctlcction- core clements ol' the human experience that have at times been used to dclinc personhood. thus illuminating how the digital might help us rethink the cultural parameters or humanity and deeper social discriminations along the lines o!'ability. This chapter contains several cases that illustrate h<m. in the twenty-first century. people with disabilities and their supporters such as Amanda Baggs. those who

l>i1uhilit1 in the l>igitul .lgc IOJ

support her and people\\ ho respond to her\ idcos and hlogs arc de\ eloping emergent limns ol' digital media practices that enable their sclt~rcprcscntation in '' avs that expand our collective sense ol'pcrsonlwod and publics. The cases I discuss he.re usc social media plattimns - YouTubc. the immcrsl\ c 'irtual '' orld or Second Lilc'' and web-based outreach attachLd to documLntar; pmjLcts ami arL' on\; a sma II part or the remarkable embrace or digital media b) many or tk estimated I:'\ per cent or the J\mcrican population who Ji, c '' ith some kind ol' disahilil\. The cases arc exemplary or the enhanced capacity ol' these media to pnl\ ide countcrdiscursi\ c sites ol' representation li1r cultural actors '' lw rarely ha\ c had opportunities to enter the public (or countcrpublic) sphere. or course. people'' ith disabilities mil!ht choose to present thcmschcs in \\ays that do not require the disclosure ill' identity. gi\cn the nm\ well-documented flexibility l'ilr scll~prcscntatiiln enabled by' irtual en\ ironmcnts, a circumstance discussed later in this chapter. In either case. inequalities in access to digital technologies rai~c questions rcl!anlinl! ho\\ the , en dcsil!n o/'digital intcracti\ity can 'disable' potential users \\IH~ma\ hci\C all\ o/'a ;.anl!C impairments t!01n \is ion or hearing loss to dirticult: with Ji;1c motor ~'ililrdinati;Jn til many other atypical circumstances of mind or body. While the question ol'acccssible design is less l'rcqucntly discussed than arc Issues ol' 1-cprescntation on the screen. \\ork on accessibility in terms or the design or digital media dcnwnstratcs hm\ the \Cry materiality ol' digital media builds in assumptions about embodiment. personhood and C\Cn citi/cnship. In their groundbrcaking 2003 \\ork. l>i!!,itul /)isuhili!L The S'ocial ( 'onstmction of!>isuhilitr in .\'l'\1' \lcdiu. Gerald (ioggin ~llld Christopher Newell rightly remind us that questions of access and nc\\ media arc cause til 'curb our digital enthusiasm'. They'' rite: In this hook. 1\C ha\L" sought to shm\ ho11 socicl\. consciOtiSh ~md unconscious\\. has built in disability into digital technolm:ics. Time a;HI time ~H.:ain.in the lic\d ilrnc\\ ;ncdia ' ' and communications technologies. our needs a~ people- 1\ iih disabilities arc not met b\ a prec:-.isting product or sen icc. ( 1-+ 7) /\s '' e interrogate our technologies. and see them as relkcting the' a lues and \i\ cd social policy. we propose that society dare tn ~1sk: 11 hom do I l'llllllt as a member ,,\.my nwr~il community. ~llld \1 hom do I nclude in the C\ eryda\ t~lh'n-ror-granted techno log: and its uses'.' Whom do 1\C disable in the scramble to the neti\Orked digital socictv'.' Or. more hopcru\1\. hO\\ Call 1\e bring about a ruture' in 1\ hich dis~1hi\it\ in its digital incarnatillllS may unli1\d in llC\\, unexpected. and li1ircr 11 ay s to the genuim benefit. and\\ ith the assured, ubiquitous participation C\ crv dav. indi\ iduall\' and col\ccti\ ch. 1\ c cngagL 1\ ith a pressing rLality: disabling llC\1 media. ( 1:'-+) Whether people with disabilities can access digital technologies or,, hcthcr poor design continues to exclude certain users ol'thcsc technologies -despite the remarkable cf'tints ol' people Iike J\manda Baggs- the battles that ''ere li1ught /'(x ramps. cle\ators. Braille signagc and\ isual signals fill the hearing impaired. to name a JC\\

:,j'

104 !Jigitul ,/n!hrofJO!ogr

/Jisuhilitr in the /)igitul.lge 105


and media has op..:ncd lively discussions on hovv such m..:dia arc deep!~ implicated in the creation of a more inclusiv c sense of citi1cnship for twtmormativ c social actors (Coleman2010). In their recent hook, /Ji.1uhilitr und .\e11' .\lediu (2010). Kate Lllis and Mike Kent point out that Technological ath ancement doL's not occur as something scparatc li-um ideo log~ ami stigma. and \\eb 2.0 has been developed in and b~ the same soctal 11urld that routine\~ disables peopk 1vith disability I 1icl. llm1ever. a resistance has emerged in an attempt tu reverse this trend in the form of critical disability studies, a discipline that seeks tll reveal the \\orkings ora disabling social \\orld. (_l)

of the more well-known efforts of disability activists to make public space available and accessible to all citi;cns, arc now being extended to the digital media vvorilL Ncv1 media enthusiasts such as Clay Shirky -whose popular 200~ book title. //ere

( 'o111es 1:.\'CT\'hod\'. made clear his position on the world of digital possibility

might

not ah,ays be mindful or the concerns raised by people v1 ith disabilities. whose mov cmcnt long ago adopted the slogan, 'nothing about us vv ithout us".' The essential question ( ioggin and Ncvv ell raise in the pt-cv ious quote when discussing the consequences or inaccessible digital technology- v1 hom do I count as a member of my moral community'' reminds us that issues or digital design concern more than political economy or tvvcaking technology: they rclkct the politics or recognition and the need to extend the 'everybody' ofShirky's title to include the full range of people vv ho constitute th..: body politic (Ellis and K..:nt 20 I 0: Goggin and N..:wdl 2003 ). Rosemarie Garland-Thomson\ 2009 book Storing prm tdcs a valuable discussion of'visual activism. a term she deploys to describe hovv people v1ith disabilities arc increasingly putting themselves in the public eye. saying Jook at me instead

Screening Disabilities
My interest in this question ol' the impact of digital media on the expericnc..:s and categorical understandings or disability grows tiom sev era! sources. First is my several decades or interest in transl(mnations in media worlds (Ciinsburg, Lughod and Larkin2002) as a form of cultural activism. a ccntralf(Jcus in my long-standing work on the development of indigenous media worldwide (Ginsburg 20 II). Second is the twcnty-1\vo-plus years that I have spent raising a child with a rare and debilitating g..:nctic disordt:r, l~unilial dysautonomia.'' This circumstance has, since 19~9. prol(ntndly changed my understanding of disability and its consequences and turned me into an advocate. activist and daily observer of the diiTcrcncc that media forms and representations make in th..: lives of those who routinely f~tcc the challenges of communication, mobility, chronic illness and discrimination. I vvatchcd as my daughter. Sam, gt-cv\ increasingly frustrated at the stunning lack of kids with disabilities on any of her 1~1\ouritc l(mns of popular media. She cv cnlually told her own story on television at age ten and started a hlog at age eleven. Her encounters with this f(mn of prejudice- the sense that one's experience and body arc virtually im isib!t:- and the gnming range or media during the decade or so since then that address the lack of representation I(Jr disabled people hav c taught me where, when and how to pay attention. Throughout the past two decades, I have watched the unc\cn expansion of what I call the 'disability media world" through participating in. inventing and running disability film festivals and screenings as v\cll as getting imolved in online communities on a variety of platf(Jrms. The impact of disability on digital media is increasingly evident in the growth of digital photographic and video work and. of course. Wch 2.0 social media, including interactive wcbsitcs. Facehook groups. virtual vvorlds, blogging and YouTubc. all of "hich have dramatically expanded the range of locations for the mediation

or don't stare'. The public presence of people vvith disabilities as pmvcrful social actors, she argues. 'stretches our shared understanding oft he human variations vv c value and appreciate and invites us I instead] to accommodate them ( 195). The radical nature of this insight, and the litcl that most of the work she discusses is so recent---only two decades or so at most --is compelling testimony to hovv rapidly these changes arc occurring (and to their prof(lltnd nature as V\cll). Disability scholars and tilmmakcrs Sharon L Snyder and David T Mitchell
(200~)

interpret the potential for transformation that occurs via encounters vv ith

sell~

determined disability films (most of them produced digitally). Snyder and l'vlitchcll suggest that exposure to a broad range of disabilities, \\ hich can occur in utopian spaces such as disability film festivals, can produce\\ hat they call 'aesthetic reprogramming' fix audiences who watch an array of works that rcfiamc the cv cryday experience of visual Jura -the taken-for-granted aspects of the social vvorld (Hourdicu

I 19721

1977)---inviting all to 'stare' in Rosemarie (iarland-Thomson"s sense. This

experience, they argue, allows audiences to vicariously L'xpcricnCL' the remarkable variety of lives with a difference through documentaries as vvcll as tictional accounts that include protagonists with disabilities ranging liom autism. Dov\11 syndrome. attention deficit disorder, cerebral palsy. blindness. dcalitcss, brain injury and depression to wounded vvarriors and stutterers. Snyder and Mitchell rcliamc the insights of theorists such as H. Ruby Rich ( 1999). who hav c argued that film !Cstiv als nrgani1cd by and for queer countcrpublics arc dynamic sites\\ here distinctiv c features of that v1orld emerge. As one of the IC\\ public spaces \\ithin 11hich to actively Ltshion a\tc'rnative disabilit~ identities. film festivals chalkngc internal and C\tcrnal orthodo--;ies that tc'nd to quick!~ :.edimcnt within politici/cd identity gatherings. They not onlv scrv c the important functilln of historical recovery: they also scck out a 1aricty ofperspccti1cs on the meaning of disability iiom older and younger generations of disabled pcopk and non-disahkd allies.

or dis-

ability to a variety of publics. New scholarship in disability studies, visual culture

]()6 Digital llnthropolugr

/)isuhilitt in the /)1:-.;irul.lgc 1(17 many ol the situations 11 c arc studying. In our ethnographic ficld11 nrk 11 ith f~uni lies. schools. media makers and scientists 11c arc learning hm1 kinship. Larctaking and the li fc course arc reconfigured 11 hen a child is diagnosed 11 ith a cogniti1 c disability. As hunilics begin to rccogni/c their commonalities and needs 11 ith others 11 lw share their dilkrcncc- a social process that 11c argUL' is L'xponL'Ill!all;. cnabbl b;. digital media 11c find that a new imaginary kinship cmcrg:s. 11 hich is L'xprcsscd through a 1aricty of idioms. In the United States. as recently as the 197tb. social mores dictated that l~unily members 11ith disabilities be hidden from 1 ic11 and stories about them he silenced. Throughout the past fc11 decades. the a\ ailahlc cultural scripts regarding the public l~lCc of l~unily lik hale been rc1 iscd across a range of media practices. popular culture. parenting manuals. legal discourses and scientific narrati1 cs about human diiTcrcncc. A sea change has occurred from the intimacy of the lwusclwld to the pub! ic worlds of educational pol icy. scientific research and. most rcle1 ant tn this chapter. in documentary and narrati1 c film and digital media----a process that is happening around the world. As Rapp and I ha1 c argued else\\ here. Anthropology is \\ ell-knm\ n f(Jr its capacious and e1 er-e'\panding framc11 orh. for umkrstanding 'human nature. (ii1cn the CL'ntrality ol"diiLTsity to our episllmology. it is pu//ling that the subject or disabilitv h~ts not heen a c.:ntral topic lllr our disciplin.:. Surclv. this l(mll or difference and the social hierarchies that oltcn stigmati/e it ar.: a universal aspect of human iif"c. Unlike the catcgori,s or r~tcc and gender. fwm 11 hich one can on I;. enter or exit \cry rarel_v and 11ith enornwus and conscious cflllrt passing' or 'transg.:ndering. f(lr cxampk disability has a distinctive qual it\: it is a cat.:gor;. anyonL' might enter une.\pcctedly. challenging lif"clong presumptitJns or stable identities and normati1ity ... ;\sa circumstance that requires attention to subjecti1 it1 and personhood. cultural meaning and mediation. social relations and kinship. and the limits of the biologicaL disability seems a natural topic for anthropological stmk ( Rapp and ( iinsburg 20 I 0: <; 17) Dan Habib is one of many disabilit; acti\ ist parents and lilmmakcrs 11 ith 11 hom Rapp and I ha1c been working. I lis son Samuel 11as horn 11 ith cerebral palsy and -tn Samuel's parents words-- brought the disahi lity rights 11101 cmcnt into our home. As accidental acti1 ists . Samuel\ parents soon l(nltld thcmsclv cs acting on behalf of their son -particularly in regard to his education in their Nc11 Hampshire to11 n. as they sought inclusi1 c settings ftlr him that combined children 11 ith and 1\ itlwut disabilities in the same classroom. Dan began photographing their journey. and soon a documentary ti Im was in product ion: Including Samuel (Habib 200X ). Dan extended the questions he had about his son\ unpredictable li1turc to l(lur other students with disabilities at dilkrcnt lik stages to ask about the possibilities and limits of inclusive education tiom kindergarten through college. Since its completion in 200~. Including Sumuel has screened across the country ami has been 11 idcly publicized. both ltlr its compelling story and f(Jr its 1 isionary as 11 ell as practical ad1 ocacy carried out on- and olllinc. The digital 1 ideo documentary. 11 hich. ti01n the beginning. \\as an extension or the llabibs' commitment to social change. ts

Disahility film ksti\'als actively disrupt static houndarics of' disahility identity-- e1en 11 ith respect to disahkd people's concepts of' their U\1 n collective makeup. (Snyder and Mitchell 200r;: 14) Such exposure. Snyder and Mitchell maintain. c<lll lead to an embrace ol'disability in all its diversity. llowcvcr. while newly c\ oh ing concepts of being disabled emerge in such settings, they also resist articulating a shared identity based on collccti1c coherence of <:xpcricncc. a fleet or diagnosis. As an example. Nc11 York ( 'ity\ Rcclabilitics Film Fcsti1 al (for which I sene as a ltHillding advisor) draws a larger audience every year: attendance tripled between its inaugural year in 200X and 20 II."' The lcsti1 al has shown outstanding films --almost all of them made on digital media-- from all over the world dealing 11 ith topics such as brain injury. autism. mental illness and Down syndrome. These arc not 11 hat Snyder and Mitchell call (II ith some disdain) a\\ arcncss lilms (200X: 13 ). but rather sho\\ people 11ith disabilities as agents or their own creative interventions, resisting the conventions ol' exclusion. Audiences arc extremely diverse and include the able-bodied and people with a remarkable range of disabilities. The kind of'acsthctic reprogramming' that Snyder and Mitchell discuss occurs not only because of 11 hat is on the screen but also through the experience ol' being in a truly inclusive screening space. The closing-night film. ll'rc!chcs and .fuhherers: Stories limn the Road ( Wurzhurg 20 I 0), was sitting and standing room only.\\ ith the requisite adaptations I(Jr the vicl\ ing space: audio description I(Jr those with visual impairments, signing I(Jr deal' audience members. seating that allmvcd f(Jr at least t<:n pmvcr chairs in the room, a kw guide dogs. a high tolerance I(Jr audience unruliness and many people 11ith autism using assistivc communication dc1 ices. The documentary, made by (icrardinc Wurzbcrg, katurcs Tracy Thresher and Larry l3issonncttc, two men with autism who have limited oral speech. As young pcop!c. both l~tccd lives of isolation. It was not until adulthood, when each learned to communicate by typing with digital assistivc technology, that their lives changed dramatically. linally providing th<:m with a 1\ay to express th<:ir thoughts. needs ami kclings. Aficr more than ten years of advocating I(Jr people with autism. Thresher and Bissonnette IC!t it was time to take their message global to help people with autism around the world break through the isolation they both knew so well. Through an outreach campaign conducted via <l website. Faccbook, YouTubc and e-maiL the film spread\ irally across the globe through the densely connected autism network. Finally. this chapter is shaped by my current research on disability. carried out \\ ith my colleague. the anthropologist Rayna Rapp. who is also the parent of a child \I ith a disability. Since 2007 we have been studying the emergence and social consequences ol' the category of learning disabilities in New York City. Hccausc \Vc arc both so dc<:ply implicated in this work as parents. acti1 ists and researchers. we sometimes rckr to our method as 'adventures on the Miibius strip'. suggesting the impossibility- on occasiOn ofknmving whether we arc on the inside or outside ol'

IOS Digilu! A nthropolugr


by thousands ol'schools, par~.:nt organi/ations, nonprofit groups, univ~.:rsi ti~.:s and state agcnci~.:s around th~.: United States and int~.:rnationally. Th~.: Habibs' w~.:bsit~.:, th~.: Including Samuel Project, ~.:xt~.:nds the film's reach through social media applications: th~.: site invites others to upload their stories of disability, exclusion and succ~.:ss, thus creating an alternative virtual community focused on issues of educational inclusion. llabib calls all of' this activity emerging from the film the 'Including Samuel Ftkct'.'' This story exemplifies a recurring phenomenon that we sec in our research. Like many parents of cognitivcly atypical children, the llabibs arc not only rethinking the intimate world ol' kinship !'rom the point ol' vi~.:w of their experiences raising a child with a disability: they arc also taking their insights beyond their home, into their community and, thanks to digital m~.:dia, across the globe. Th~.: wide and interconnected reach or media is the key litctor in th~.: creation or such projects, producing what we call mediated kinshiv Emerging as a neighbouring-- -and sometimes overlapping-- field to the l'ormaL institutionali/cd discourse of disability rights, mediated kinship otTers a critique ol'normativc American t~unily liCe that is ~.:mbcddcd within everyday cultural practice. Across many genres-documentaries, talk shows, online disability support groups, wcbsitcs, Second Lite communities and so on- -a common theme is the rejection of th~.: prcssur~.: to produce pcrf'cct families, objectified through the incorporation of diiTcrcncc under the sign of lm-c and intimacy in the domain of kinship relations. We suggest that these mediated spaces of public intimacy arc crucial li.Jr building a social fund of know lcdg~.: mort: inclusive of the lite! of disability. Such media practices -which arc incn:asingly digital provide a countcrdiscoursc to the stratification ortiunilics that I(Jr so long has marginali/cd those with disabilities. It is not only th~.: acceptance ol' diflcrcnce within llnnilics but also the embrace of relatedness that such models of inclusion present to the body politic. ;\s groups of people with similar diagnoses--such as autism, Dm\ n syndrome, attention deficit disorder --begin to recognize each other through these practices, their emergent sense of kinship and identity makes these spaces potentially radical in their implications I(Jr an expanded understanding of personhood. ;\s sites of inf(Jrmation and ficc play of imagination, these cultural f(mllS create a more inclusive social landscap~.: ( Rapp and Ginsburg 200 I: 550). Such li.m11s of relatedness arc not necessarily genealogical or familial: they may be based on relationships created among avatars (and their humans) on Second Li IC, \\hose experiences arc enriched by the virtual possibilities f(Jr social connection denied to the disabled in real lite (RL). In any polyscmic tradition, there arc many ways to matcriali;c a sense of relatedness; a variety of media practices, from analogue photographs to wcbsitcs, can increasingly be understood as f(mns beyond 'blood' and other bodily substances that can produce a sense of relatedness among: those with disabilities and their supporters (Bouquet 2001 ). The fact that these media practices ha\c been embraced in the context of the latc-t\\Cnticth-ccntury global disability rights movements has provided a robust social environment that shapes and is shaped by these media practices. now
us~.:d

f)f.luhilill' in i/!(' /)igilo! .lgc 109

Found in Digital Translation


In Mr l_imgl!u,!!,c is exemplary of the producti\ it: nf digital media li.1r people \\ ith disabilities. Haggs uploaded the' ideo approximate!: t\\ o :cars into the existence nf You Tube, the digital social media platl(mn I(Huploading and sharing\ itko of all kind. Perhaps because YouTube \\as a rclati\ ely young medium in 2007 or pnssibly because of the \ideo\ no\ city as an in ten cntion into the presumptions of typical it: exhibited by most other\ ideos on the site and certainly due to the rising interest in the nature and diagnosis of autism spectrum disorders in the early 1\\ cnty-tirst century (Grinkcr 2007) - In Mr /,ung11age pro\ oked considerable response and some contrm crsv. \\ ith more than:\()(),()()() views in the first three weeks of its posting: ((iupta 2007). Within a month of its launch. ( 'NN ran a stm') on Amanda Baggs and the\ ideo: two days later. she gucst-hlogg:cd \\ ith CNN tele\ isionjournalist Anderson Cooper (2007). ;\year later, she \\as the subject of an article by Da\ id Wolman in Wired mag<l/inc titled 'The Truth ;\bout ;\utism: Scientists Reconsider \Vhat They Think They Knm\ '(Wolman 200X).'' In the article Wolman \\TOte,

I tL'il her [Amanda Baggs[ that I asked one orthL' \\mid's kading <Iuthnrities ,1n autism tp check out the \ideo. The expert\ opinion: Baggs must h<I\ c h<Id outside help creating it. perhaps thm1 one or her carcgi\ crs. llcr inabil it:- to talk, coupkd \\ ith repctiti\ e hcha\iurs, lack of eye contact. and tilL' llCL'd t(lr <Issistance 1\ ith l'\L'rHla\ tasks arL' IL'illak sil!ns of se\ere autism. Among all autistics, 7<, percent are C'\pect~d 1;1 score in the mcnt<~lh retarded range on standard intelligence tests that's an I() or7tl or less .. Alkr 1e'\plai;l the scientist's doubts, Baggs grunts, and her mouth t(mllS just <I hint or a smirl-. as she lcb loose a sal\ o on the keyboard. No one helped her slwot the\ idL'O. edit it. and upload it Ill YouTuhc. She used a Sony Cybershot DSC-Tl. <I di~ital camera that can record up Ill l)t) seconds or\ ideo (she has 'ince upgraded). She then patched the t(lotage lll~ethL'r using the editing programs R/\1) Vidcll Tools, VirtuaiDuh, and Di\ X Land r-vlcdia Suhtitlcr. 'f\h care provider 1\0uldn't e\en kmm how to\\orl-. the soli\I<Ire.' ,he sa::-s. (\\olman21Hl~: -1) In April 200X, CNN \ celebrity medical expert and neurosurgeon, Sanjay (iupta. interviewed Baggs at her Vermont home. ( 'hronicling the transl(mnation in his O\\ n understanding of the personhood of' Baggs (and people like her), \\hose humanity he had not pre\ iously recogni/cd, Gupta explained that \\hen he 'first came across Amanda on You Tube, her appearance there\\ as so startling, I ''anted to n1L'L't 11Lr. 1 had so many questions'. A tier Gupta met her and sa\\ the remarkable access that \\as opened to her by media platl(mns such as YouTubc or blog:ging, he quipped: 'The Internet is like a "get out orjail ltH' free" card I(Jr a nC\\ \\orld or autistics. On the Internet Amanda can get beyond names and expectations. She can mm eat herO\\ n pace, live lite on her own terms' (Gupta 200X).
1 '

Baggs\ usc of digital platl(mns illustrates the striking po!L'ntial knclit that this kind of technology holds I(Jr certain groups of people '' ith disabilities -cspcciall:those \\ith autism and related communicati\c disorders. Digital platl(mllS reach

r
110 Digital :1nthm;){)log\'

I )i.lohilitr in r/i, I Jigitol. lgc Ill

beyond the local and constitute nclllurks organi/.cd along other modes or recognition rendered intimate or at least mailable because ol'thc rapid and dcnwcratil'ing (it' unequal) spread ol' social media. In his hook !idcsjiwn Fucchook. Danny Miller\ case oi''Dr. Karamath' who is able to create a network ol'likc-mindcd people despite the litct that a disability renders him homebound-- makes this poignantly clear (Miller 2011: 2X :llJ). A number ol'rcscarchcrs ha1c pointed out that the Internet has !Catures that make it especially appropriate !'or those 11 lw can he easily m crwhclmcd by the many simultaneous channels of communication that go1 ern litcc-to-l~tCe interaction, such as body language and litcial c.'\prcssions. Another autistic activist_ Canadian researcher Michelle Dm1son. linds litce-to-lilcc interaction an ordeal. She is an avid hlogger. especially 11 ith 'scientists. parents' gmups. medical institutions. the courts. journalists. and anyone else who II listen to their stories or ho11 autistics
1 '

sense ol'how this digital scll~prcscntation strikes 1 ic11 L'rs. lhc comments oi'Su/anttc expressed the sentiments or many: You arc am<uing:) Brilliant 1idco 1 I am thanl-Jui!(Jr the 1idcos \tlU producc. Stnccrch. Su/anne. mother or an autistic 3 (almost -1)) r old. p.s. ami I'd liJ..c to gtl c 1ou a C) hL'r (((hug))) ). maybe I can meet up 11ith )OU some d<t) in Second Li!L <llld gilL' 1011 a hug there. lie he.
1 ''

arc mistreated' (Wolman 200X: I 0).

Su/annc is clearly aware thaL in addition to the usc or 1 ideo platl(mns suLh as YouTubc and blogging. Amanda Baggs is an a1 id participant in the 1 irtual immcrsivc community or Second Li !C. 11 here Baggs has created an a1 a tar 11 lw looks and acts like her typing: and rocking: back and I(Jrth hut 11lw canlly to diiTcrL'nt destinations and attend autism meetings 11ith litr less amicty than in rcallik. In real li!C. according to Da1 id Wolman\ intcn ic11 11 ith Bag:g:s liom /fired maga/tnc. Baggs li1es in a public housing project !(Jr tilL' clderh and handic<tppcd ncar dtmnto11n Burlington. Vermont. She has short blacJ.. hair. a pointy nose. <md round gl~tSSL'S. She usually 11cars aT-shirt and baggy pants. ~md she spends~~ scan amount of time- day and night on the Internet: hlogging. hanging out in Second Lit(:. and corresponding 11 ith her autie and aspic l'riends. (For the uninitiated. that's <IT!Ii.l/ic and .I 'fiCJger \.) ( )n a blustery alicrnoon. Baggs reclines on a red lttton in the apartment or her neighbor (and best friend). She has a g.ray tran:l pillow 11 rapped around her nccJ... a kcv board resting on her lap. and <1 DynaVox VMa.v computer propped against her legs. :\utistics like Baggs arc now leading a nascent civil rights nw1cnKnl. 'I rcmL'mbcr in 'LJLJ.' she says. seeing a number of gay pride Web sites. I cn1icd hm1 m~lll) there 11 L'rL' and 11 ishcd there 11 as something like that llll autism. Nm1 there is. TilL' message: We 'rc hcrL'. WL' 'rc 11 eird. (ict used to it. (Wolman 200S: -1-5) Whi lc her 'celebrity crip' status is unique. Amanda Baggs\ experiences 11 ith such technologies ol'l'cr unprecedented pathways l(ll- expressing a sense of pnsonhood and dignity that arc apprcciatl'd by many 11 lw ha1 c autism and their supporters. Baggs's crcati1c and intcncntionist uses oi'YouTubc. blog:ging: and Second Lil'c arc. I suggest, metonymic ol' a broader change in the /citg:cisL at least in the First World I(Jr those 11ho IJ<Jvc access to computers. and arguably in many other locations (e.g:. Milkr 2011: Srcberny and Khiabany 2010). The rise ol' the globalnwvcment for disability rights since the 19XOs (Charlton llJlJX) and the simultaneous emergence or enabling digital technologies !'or people 11ith disabilities ha1c created a modest but nonetheless transl(mnative cl'l'cet. Tht: phcnomctwn can be seen as a kind or digital 'structure of conjuncture' (Sahlins 19X5) -that is a historical moment 11hcn 1arious interests 11ithin a field comcrgc in 11ays that lead to paradigmatic change. II' one ol'thc central goals ol'the contemporary disability rights mo1cmcnt 1\orld\\ ide is scll~dctcrmination. then there is no question that being able to represent

Not Being Able to Talk Doesn't Mean You Don't Have Anything to Say
People likt: Amanda Baggs somt:timcs St:t:m to nt:urotyricals as i r tht:y hm c no languagt: ht:t:ausc they do not sreak. BuL or course. Baggs and otht:rs 11ith t:ommunicativt: disorders con communicate and at times they arc strikingly articulate--by using a keyboard and augmented communication technologies and interactive tablet technologies such as the il'ad (Fox 2011 ). As Baggs has remarked regarding her own situation: 'Not being able to talk doesn'tmean you don't ha1c anything: to say.' The thirty or more videos she has rostcd on YouTubc ol' her everyday acti1 itics arc testimony to that: they range liom angry mani l'cstos against the inhumanity shm1 n to those with disabilities or other forms or 'unacceptable' ditfcrcncc, such as Hcing an Linperson. to the wry yet revelatory I lmr to Boil lfc1ter the LaiT fJ in. In the latter piece, the 1 ic11 er sees Baggs first sitting: on her couch liguring out hmv to get to her kitchen. then standing in her kitchen orening: curhoards. the micnmavc and rcl"rigcrator. coring vv ith the range ol' cues presented by the materiality of her kitchen, until she ligures out which ones will heir her to actually accomplish the task ol' heating 11 atcr. The riccc is introduced 11 ith a series ol' title cards that guide the
1 '

vtclv cr: This is meant to explain why it takes 111e li1e hours or longer to boil 1vater sometimes. !"his is a shortened version of 11 hat goes on. lcel free to laugh as long as it's not to make yourself il:el superior or something. But C\Cil though it can be runny. be aware this is a 'eriou' and real situation ll1r a lot or autistic people anwng others. A quick. unscicntilic read or many of the 30.000 rcsronscs to this particular 1 ideo in the urloaded comments section (where there arc only twenty 'dislikes') g:i1 cs a

112 /)igita/ AlllhmJ!IIIogr


oneself in digital public (or countcrpublic) spheres on one's own terms is consistent with that project. As Amanda Baggs\ case illustrates. sci !'-determination might include: I. passing as typical (as with 'Dr. Karamath', one ofthc profiles in Miller (2011 )) or coming out as a person with disabilities: .., having control over channels of communication in 11ays that arc suitable for particular issues l~1ccd hy those who arc not ncurotypicals: and

/)isuhilitr in the /)igitul.lgc IIJ

Getting a (Second) Life: Case Study Two


At a Friday allcrnoon workshop about k11 ish religious practice in the online 11 orld at New York University's Center for Religion and Media.' a 1irtuallighting of the Shabbat candles 1vas about to take place in the JC\1 ish section of thL' online 11 orld of Second Lik.'' The assembled group 11aitcd eagerly, \latching a projection of a computer screen 11hile a group of online <l\atars (or 'j<l\atars' as some call those virtual representatives of the self created by those 11 ho idcntiiY as .lc11 ish) gathered for the ti rst set of candles to be Iit ( 1 i rtually) based on Isracl i time. sc\ en hours ahead of Nc11 York City. As the a\ a tar named Nama1 Abramm itch carried out the rituaL scholar Ch<l\ a Wcissler (who 11 as conducting the 11 orkshop as part of a demonstration of her research) asked Abrammitch if he \\ould be lea\ ing soon to light candks in real life. To the group\ astonishment, he \HOtc back. 'No, I can't light candles in RL because I am disabled. Second LiiC is the only space\\ here I can be apracticing Jew. Abrammitch is Nick Dupree, a Medicaid reform acti1 ist 11 ith muscular dystrophy who uses a ventilator to breathe. He had been acti\c on Second Life for only a few months prior to the encounter just described: he joined this media \\orld aticr reading an article in the Hir1hington J>ost about how pcopk 11ith disabilities crcati\cly usc Second LiiC and other social media (Stein 2007). Dupree can not usc a keyboard or lift his hands: he types with one thumb on a trackball mouse, creating text by hitting letters using on-screen keyboard solh1arc. As he nplains. 'I had run a support group online in the past, and am intcn:stcd in using\ irtual community to support people with disabilities ... and nmv haw founded Open ( iatcs. a project to prm ide 2.f/7 peer support in Second Li ll.'.' Dupree is not alone. In an issue of the online mag<vinc :!!.iii'. an artick described how a \\Oman used the 1irtual \\orld to be more active in a religious community in ways not a1ailable to her olllinc: 'On [the .lc11 ish holidays orj Rosh llaShana and Yom Kippur, Scralina, who is homebound in RL had an open house in the synagogue, welcoming everyone who had no othn possibility to attend sen ices, to join her in the \ irtual world.'''' These stories of Dupree and Serafina others and many oiTcr a parable of digital possibility for those who find real lil'c less than

3. locating and developing relationships with others with similar circumstances


as well as supportive ICllow travellers in the broad. nonlocal 11orld of the Internet. The emerging literature on the impact of digital media for people with disabilities suggests that these nC\\ i'orms of digital access provide distinctive possibilities for \irtual sociality and scll~dctcrmincd recognition, a fundamental aspect of personhood. This is not a universal social !'act. and problems ol' discrimination and abuse persist. as do unintended consequences of digital innm at ion ( Lllis and Kent 20 I 0: 7). Indeed, the case ofl1aggs and the kind of\1ondcr. attention and scepticism that her is a reminder of how nc\\ this kind of digital digital media projects have attracted

media practice is for people with disabilities. Thirty or forty years ago, life would have been dil'l'crcnt and much harder for Amanda, says Morton Ann Gcrnsbachcr. a cognitive psychologist who spcciali;cs in autism at the Uni\ crsity of Wisconsin Madison. 'The Internet is pro\ iding for individuals with autism. what sign language did f(Jr the deal", she says. 'It allows them to interact\\ ith the \lorld and other likeminded individuals on their O\\n terms' (quoted in Ciajilan 2007). In the United States, it was only four decades ago that the so-called ugly laws were abolished: for 0\Cr a century, this legislation had made it illegall(lr persons \lith 'unsightly or disgusting di~abilitics' to appear in public in most US cities. As disability scholar Susan Schwcik (2009) explained in her important book on this subject, the laws laid the groundwork I(Jr the widespread acceptance of eugenics and institutionali;ation in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. In addition to the alternative but clearly indexical representation ol'hcr liiC of!Crcd by Amanda Baggs, another corner or the digital media world -the virtual world of Second Life has become home to a small but growing presence of participants with disabilities. A remarkable number of avatars created by people with disabilities li\c fully social lives in ways not otherwise available to them in real life. Taking a different approach, a number of disability activists joined together to create Virtual Ability in 200S. The website provides support for those with disabilities both in Second LiiC-including how to gain access if one has ditliculty using standard software and harch\arc -and in real life. with counselling and support provided in ways that demonstrate the difliculty or rendering online and offline worlds fully separable.

accommodating of their impairments.'" Much as You Tube has ofiC:rcd an important platform for Amanda Haggs and others. the experiences of disabled participants on Second Li IC suggest that participation in this\ irtual \\ orld otTers a chance to engage in social practices that pre\ iously might not bel\ c been <l\ ailablc to them. Research on the impact of this Yirtual acti\ ity on olllinc li\cs suggests that these opportunities to be part of a virtual community arc 'existentially therapeutic'. Rob Stein. in his influential 2007 l1ir1hingtnn Post article. 'Real !lope in a Virtual World'. described a number of such cases.'' One woman had a dc\astating stroke in 2003 that lcli her in a wheelchair 1\ith little hope of walking again: she has since regained the w;c of her legs and 'has begun to reclaim her liiC, thanks in part to encouragement she says

114 !Jigital Anthmfwlogr

I hwhililt in t/i(' I )igitol./g(' 115

she gets from an online "virtual world" where she can vvalk. run and c\cn dance. Another person who had sc\crc ag:oraphohia gained the confidence to \Cnturc outdoors alter exploring: the world of Second Li ll:. One of Stein's (2007) in ten ic\\ ccs makes a compelling: case for her experiences in\ irtual reality. 'It's kind ol' like getting your lik back again. but even better in some v\ays'. said Kathie Olson. :'il. vvho uses a wheelchair. lives alone and rarely leaves her home ncar Salt Lal-.c City. In Second Lik. she roams about as Kat Klata. a curvy young brunette\\ ho runs the Dragon Inn nightclub. Tvc met so many people. I can\\ alk. I can dance. I can evenlly. Without this l'djust be staring at l(lur walls. Mentally it's helped me so nwch. Stein (2007) suggests that the uplill and even jouissancc people feel hy participating in second life arc so pmn:rful in part hccausc 'the full-color. multifaceted nature of the experience otTers so much more "emotional band\v idth'". In his ethnography of Second Life, based on fieldwork that took place from 3 June 2004 to 30 January 2007, anthropologist Tom BocllstoriT (200X) talks about the consequences that actual-world embodiment has li1r virtual participation on this online world. The Second Lill: residents he encountered who have physical disabilities were ahlc to expand their social networks and gain an enhanced sense of agency. These people included a deaf participant who liked the l~tct that text chat equalized his capacity to talk with everyone. because in real life. many people arc not t~uniliar with sign language. Another Second Li l'c resident who was recovering: limn a stroke explained that you lose your role and sense ol'control in rcallik: in Second Life you can take the bits of you that work and li1rge a ne\\ one' (BocllstoriT200X: 137). Clinical research confirms these reports on the practical and existential cfiCcts or participating in \irtual \Vorlds l(lr people vvith disabilities." These crt'ccts include disabled users gaining a sense of control over their environment and their interactions with others (Aim ct al. Jl)9X: Stevens 2004: Williams and Nicholas 2005): developing an enhanced spatial awareness, eye hand coordination and tine motor skills and linding sources of social support and medical inflmnation (Hill and Weinert 2004: Kalichman ct al. 2003 ): and achieving greater independence. communication and learning I(Jr those with mobility impairments (Anderberg and .liinsson 2005) and traumatic brain injury (Thornton ct al. 2005 ). Participation in virtual reality has hccn shown to help those with cognitive impairments focus attention and learn lik skills such as shopping and I(JOd preparation (Aim ct al. 199X: Christiansen ct al. 199X: Standen and Cromby 1995 ). People with autism spectrum disorders ol1cn find \irtual reality communication more comfortable than communication in rcallit'c (Biever 2007: Parsons and Mitchell 2002). BocllstortT (200X) draws attention to the ways that the design of digital media can be 'disabling'. However liberating lik as an avatar might be. creating: that version of the self requires that one saw or heard '' ith actual eyes and cars. typed on a keyboard and mm cd a mouse \\ ith actua I hands and fi ng:crs (200X: 134 5 ). ''

J{ocllstoriT notes the frequency of comments he heard during: hi-; tl\ o years of licldvlork in Second Lil'c regarding the lack of consideration for uni\crsal design that might accommodate users with a \aricty of disabilities. Complaints included the dirticulty or reading: small l(mts l(lr those v\ ith \ isual impairments. the impact or seizure-inducing: llash effects ror those '' ith epilepsy. dirticultics managing: a\ atars with a track hall and problems 1vith abstract rcasonin!:! required !(lr scripting:. HocllstoriT also f(nmd that many people\\ lw scll~discloscd created a1 atars that did not reflect their impairments----an online practice or passing: noted since the days or text-only chat rooms ( Damcr 199X: Van ( Ieider [19X5[ 199 I: J(,(l ). ;\s one resident in BocllstorlT's study explained. ha\ ing \ irtual capacities in Second Li!C that othcm isc arc not available 'allows you to be licc to explore yoursclr' (200X: 137). Others. like Amanda Baggs, have created cmhodicd representations that rcllcctcd their actual-lik disabilities ( Bocllstorlf 200X: 136 ). The case of Second Lil'c residents vi ith vv hat Hocllstorlf calls psychological disabilities (or what others might call cogniti\ c di lkrcnces) npcns discussion of 11 hat he calls \ irtual agency. the presumption of a self 1vlw can discO\ cr interests and desires and respond to them through acts of crcati\ ity' ( Bocllstorlf 200X: 147). ;\s discussed in the case ofAmanda Baggs. Bocllstorlfastutely ohscncs that: Second l.il'c\ reliance on to.tu<il chat instl'ad or voice during the pcTiml or [his[ ticld\\ork. the limited capacity l(lr avatar t:tcial o.pression. and a general tokrancc f(Jr delayed or unexpected responses t f(Jr instance. because persons vi ere ofkn afk [<l\\ ay ti01n the J..cyboard [) made it possible l(lr many residents I\ ith autism to he n'mJKtenl social actors to a signilicantly greater degree than in the actual 1vorld. ( 147) Similarly. those 11 ith attention deficit disorder l(nl!ld that 'they 1\ et-c pcrcci\ cd like any other resident. analogous to the manner in 1\ hich a person\\ ho could not 11 alk in the actual 11orld could \\alk like anyone else' in Second Lik (HoellstorlT200X: 147). One v1onwn. Suzec. whose brother. .Joseph. had sc\ ere schi/ophrcnia. found her relationship with her brother catalyzed in Second Lik. While in real life . .Joseph li\cs 11ith his mother (despite the lite! that he is in his thirties). in Second Life. he built and decorated a cabin for himself and spends hours\\ ith Su/cc talking and creating: things with her. Citing: these and other cases. BocllstortT ohsen cs. 'This theme of Second Life permitting access to an interior self that in the actual v1orld is masked h) an unchoscn embodiment and social obligations was common ... A\ a tars \\ere nnt just placeholders !(Jr scllhood but sites ofscll~making in their 0\\ n right' (200X: 14X ')). Importantly (and not surprising:!)). discrimination 11as still a challenge l(lr Second Lil'c residents with disabilities. despite their ha\ ing crallcd a1 atars that enabled them to pass as people without disabilities. One person notes that \ irtual friends sometimes run av1 ay. and I think it bnthcrs me mnrc 111 hcrc. It s like they arc looking for the pcrkct person. It happens here just as easy as in the real v1nrld. so many here don't tell they ha\ c a disahi Iity' ( Boellstorlf 200X: I _IX). At the same time.

116 !Jigitu/;/lllhmjWiogr
Bm:llstorl't'not~.:s th~.: capacity ol'virtual \\orlds to gcn~.:ratc compassionate identifica-

/)i.,uhilitr in the /)igitul.lgc' 117 lirst. since it seemed to be the riLhcst culwral en\ ironment ( Whill'bcrry 200X)
~111d

the nwst i"ulh de\ eloped.

tion. as was seen in some ol' the comments generated in response to YouTubc \ idcos by Amanda Baggs. 'Virtual worlds can be sites ol' gricfing [bullying/harassing] and inequality. but they can also produce new '' ays ol' li\ in g. including a kind ol' empathy that r~.:calls the ethnographic project itself' (Bocllstor1T200X: 249). Some ol'thc benefits ol'ha\ ing an extension into virtual reality arc practical. especially ror the 311 p~.:r cent or Americans'' ith disabilities who arc unemployed due to discrimination and less-than-accommodating\\ orkplaccs. 'l Scshat C/ct-ct has a painl'ul disability that makes it diilicull ror her to lea\ c her home or participate in community lil"c in the physical world. Sh~.: is unable to work away rrom home. leave the house ror social vis its and participate in her local community. In Second Life. she runs a succcssrul clothing and rurniturc busin~.:ss and is an avid role-player. She describes hcr usc orS~.:cond Lil"c not as escape into l~mtasy but as 'escape ti01n persecution'.'' Bo~.:llstorlf"s fieldwork ended in January 2007. six months bdorc thc emcrgencc or a r~.:markablc community or support ror people with disabilities on Second Lifc. largcly due to the cl't'orts or disability activist Alice Krucg~.:r.'' According to the Virtual Ability wcbsitc. prior to becoming imolvcd with Second Lil'c. Kruegcr \\ orh:d part time !'rom home as a technical \\ ritcr and editor !'or an education research firm l(lr five years using adaptive oi"licc equipment. As a woman with Multiple Sclerosis. she ltllllld it increasingly dillicultto participate in her rcallil"c community. No longer able to kave home to work. volunteer. or sociali/c with l'riends, she turned to virtual worlds to l'ullillthcsc basic human needs. Ms. Krueger is the mother oi' three young adulh with disabilities and has been a special education teacher. Ms. Krueger's a\atar in Second L.i l"c'' is (ientlc llcron. (icntlc can stand and '' alk \\ ithout crutches. The community that Krueger roundcd \\ ith t\\0 othcr disabled rricnds began in June 2007.
wh~.:n

they

began thinking about how important the concept ol' community was !'or those who !~ICed barricts to participation in the physical community in\\ hich they li\ ed. Thcy began asking other disabled peopk \\hat their idea of 'community" was and \\hat they expected !'rom being a member o!' a community. From this research. the tiiends dr.:termincd that people with disabilities \vcllll the same things C\Cryone clsc docs. They want companionship and liicndship especially with people who understand the limitations placed on them by their disabling conditions. They need to learn more about their own conditions. about health and wellbeing. and about resources available to make their lives better. They want a chance to be employed or to do \Oiunteer vvork since both give back to our comtmtnity. And, they want to ha\C fun. This \las really no surprise. nor \vas it a surprise that these things wcrc dillicult to achieve in the world outside their homes. People who arc disabled arc often socially isolated. even physically isolated. \v ithin their geographic communities. So the thrce friends ... decided to explore\ irtual reality as a setting within which to build a supportive conmHtnity ... and chose Second Lil"c as thc one to coloni/e

( lriginally. the three rricnds called the onlitlL' communi!~ the~ had created the llcron Sanctuary. hut the site\\ as rrcqucntl; mistaken as an organi/ationlhat pro\ idcd a safe place I(Hiargc. hluc-li:athcrcd \lading birds". While doint' research. they came acros,; the Acccssibility Center on Second L.ik\ llealthlnl(l Island.\\ here they met Lorelei Junol. a librarian responsible I(H setting up the lnl(mnation Island archipelago\\ ithin Second Lif"c. Junot allm\cd them to usc a plot or land on hlulsland 4. and the project bct'an. Within its first eight months. the community grc\\ to I :'iO subjects and quickl:v carncd a reputation as thc primary group on Second Lili: supporting people\\ ith realworld disabilities. Aller discussion. in January 2001\ this group l(mncd Virtual Ability. Inc .. a nonprofit corporation bascd in ( 'olorado. \\here Krueger li\ cs. Virtual Ability has six. Sccond Lili: pmpcrties that reflect the concerns lirst articulated by the l(nmders. Thcsc arc: (I) Virtual Ability Island (VAl).\\ hich prm ides nc\\ resident orientation and training li.1r people\\ ith disabilities or chronic illnesses on hm1 to na\ igatc Second Lite; (2) Hcalthlnli.l Island. which is attachcd by a drm\ bridge to VAl and orli:rs inl(mnalion on physicaL emotional and mental health through intcracti1 c displays. links to outsidc resources. events ami pcrsonali/cd assistance as \\CII as an Accessibility Cent~.:r \lith lloors that t(Jcus on dirfercnt aspects or accessibility: \ision. hearing. mobility and dexterity and learning impairments: (3) Cape Able.\\ hich is l(lr those\\ ho arc deaf or have hearing impairments: (4) Cape Serenity. \\hich is a ha\cn l"caturing a library with books \\Tittcn by pcoplc \\ ith disabilities as\\ ell as a patio I(H storytelling and poetry readings: (5) Wolpcrtingcr properly, \\hich olkrs t\\cnty-thrcc inc\.pcnsi\c apartments and ((l) AVFSS (Amputee Virtual Fm ironment Support Spacl'). \\hich was built to establish best practices and protocols li.1r the prm i,;ion or online pccr-to-pccr support scrviccs l(ll military amputees and their Ltmilies.:' From 2006 to 20 I 0. Well ness Island. rounded by SL counsellor A\ a ion Birkc. pro\ idcd one or the first support centres on Sccond Li rc to otTer mental health rcsourccs. coun,;clling and cducalion. It closed alter three and a half years due to constraints of time and money.'" Unlike most othcr participants with avatars in Second Lil"c and other \ irtual communitics. thosc in\olvcd in Virtual Ability do not regard their participation on Second Lil"c as a game. Their goal---to prm ide a support communit) li.1r people \lith disabilities and their friends and l~tmilics--is a serious project that docs not regard thc boundary bct\\cen \ irtual and real lit"c as significant. Consistent\\ ith their intcrcst in dtsability rights both online and online. their most recent project\\ as the organi/ing and hosting of a virtual \\mid conl"crcnce about real-\\orld rights.''' That supporli\ c en\ ironment includes making Second Li l"c more accc,;sibk to people\\ ith dilkrcnt kinds or disabilities. As explained on the Virtual Ability \vcbsitc: Ynu probablv ha\c tiicnds \lith disabilities. You knm\ that people\\ ith disabilities t:tcc many barriers in li\ ing in the 'real' \\mid. !"here arc also barriers ll1 entering into a

118 /)igital .1nlhi"Of)()/ogr

/)isuhilitt in thl' /)igitul. lgl' 119

virtual world. Some people have only one hand or even one linger they can control to type. Some usc a stylus, or type with their toes. Some can't type at aiL and usc voice rccognitinn ,nlhv arc to cnntrol their computer. Virtual Abilit;. Inc. helps people 11 ith these kind oi' challenges get into and bccnmc succcssl'ul in vinual \vorlds like Second L.ii'c' During our unique intake process. we conduct an indi\ iduali/cd skills assc"mcnt, rci'cr clients I(H- help with assisti\ c hard11 arc and so it ware as appropriate. cll1d provide customi/cd training and orientation.'' Making the technology available to people 11 ith disabilities is central to the Virtual Ability project. The 1\cbsitc discusses hmv attention to this lim11 or accessibility is indeed pan of the making: ol'thc kind of'moral community' that Cioggin and Nc11cll rccogni/.c can only happen when access to a medium is taken into account. The language the site uses to describe the activ itics av ailahle once people gain access to Virtual Ability is very much in that spirit. Virtual Ability helps members integrate into the virtual society. and provides an ongoing comnHinitv of support. The community of!Crs members inl(mnation. encourasemenL trai1~ing. companionship. referrals to other online resources and groups. vv ays to contribute back to the community. and ways to have J'un. We take virtua\ tick! trips as part of our curriculum with our new intakes. We also have volunteers vv lw lov c to go shoppins. and enjoy helping folks vv ith virtual makcovcrs. While <limost anyone nevv to a virtual online world would enjoy a little early guidance. we arc finding that this individuali/cd attention is oltcn critical ti1r the success of those who have disabilities. We also do a lot oi' dancing. We have taken l(l\ks to walk in the virtual vvoods. climb moUittains. go virtual skydiving all kinds of things that arc pmlinllld and a pleasure to someone with physical or mental limitations. It\ an ama/ing experience helping someone who vvill nevn vvalk again in real life to jump on a V'irtual trampoline.,.

ways to the genuine benelit ... ofpeople vvith disabilitiL's' ((iogg:in and l\L'VIell2003: 154). My daughter, at age 22, still finds it hard to lind characters 11 ith disabilitic' on tclcv ISion or at the movies. ;\nd those 11lw occupy positions as public pundits nn things digital rarely call atlcntion to the inequalities of accL'ss to this media 11 orld l(ll those 11ith disabilities- or. li1r that matlcr. nther marginali/cd g:nn1ps ((iinsburg: 200X), IVith the occasional exceptions to the rule. such as Amanda Baggs. Nonetheless. the cases discussed here suggest a sea change is occurring:. liom the expanded sense or experience and personhood that Amanda Baggs created for audiences across the globe through her YouTuhc 1 idcos and blog: entries to thL' visionary expansion or Second Lik\ accessibility by ;\lice Krueger (lcntle lleron in her quest to usc digital media to create an alternative 11orld full or possibilit;. and support li1r those vvith disabilities. to the mohili/ing: capacity or social net\\ orks onand olllinc l()r disability activ is! lilmmakcrs such as Dan Habib. These cases help us sec hovv the capacities of digital media enable sig:nilicant intcrv cntions in our everyday understandings of11 hat it means to be human fi1r the estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the IVorld\ population that lives 11ith disabilities. a category that am one or us might join in a heartbeat. It seems only titling in a chapter that cmphasi/cs the sig:nilicancc ofscll'-dctcrmination lill those ll'ith disabilities to let Amanda Baggs hav c the last\\ ord. In In .\lr Lunguuge. she makes clear the existential motivation of her presence in 'ocialmcdia and its Ii bcralory potentia I: There arc people being tol'lurcd. peopled; in g. bcc\llse thcv arc con,idcrcd mm-pcTsons because their kind oi'tlwught is con,idcrcd so unusual as to hL' IIlli be considered thought at all. Only 11 hen the many types oi' personhood arc recogni/ed 1\ ill JUoaicc and human rights be possible.

Acknowledgements Conclusion
Virtual Ability\ mindful approach to digital design-- that meeting the requirements ol' people with disabilities lilr access to digital media is a fundamental statement about who counts as part or the moral community- suggests that the hopes expressed by Cloggin and Newell in 2003 arc no longer entirely about the future. Their words could easily describe the philosophy and practice of Virtual Ability. From this knovvledge provided directly liom people with disabilities as experts about their lives and opportunities a dii'!Crcnt understanding oi' people V\ ith disabilities and the new media can be l~tshioncd. This requires us to rccnsni/c and allirm in practice dil~ i'crcnt ways of knowing the \\orld and to map the diversity of abilities people hal'c in our societies. (( ioggin and Newell 200_\: xi') There is still considerable ground to cmcr bclilrc \\c truly achieve digital dow. in ll'hich 'disability in its digital incarnations may unli1ld in nell. unexpected, and l~tircr I am grateful to Danny Miller and I leather llorst l(ll inviting me to he part of this volumc. They encouraged me to explore a nell angle in a longer research project that I ha\c been 1\orking: on l(lr several years 11 ith Ra) na Rapp. 11 hich is supported by the Spencer Foundation and Nc\\ York Uni\ crsity \ Institute l(lr \Iuman lkv clopmcnt and Social Change. I also IVan! to thank (lahriclla Coleman. !-:mil) 1\lartin. John Michall'/yk and Rayna Rapp l()r their thought ltd readings of earlier dralis of this chapter.

Notes
I. There has been some controv crsy regarding \\ hcthcr Amanda Baggs is 'truly' autistic. These kinds or authenticity arguments arc precisely the kind of poliLing ol' identity she objects to. and not rclev ant tot he argument of this chapter.

120 !Jigitul;lnthm;}()logr

/)i.,uhilitr in the /)igitul.lgc 121 shapes that allovv s residents to build virtual objects. Rcsidcnh can explore, meet other residents. sociali/l'. participate in indiVidual and group activ itics, create and trade virtual property and services and trav cl throughout the vv orltl, which residents rcll:r to as the g. rid. According to the U.S. ('ensus Bureau, 15.1 per cent ol' the population has some kind of disability (http:ld:tclfinder.ccnsus.gov scrv let STTablc'! bmy&-gco id -o I OOOU S&-qrnamc ACS 2007 3 Y R GOO S I XO I &-ds nameACS 20073YR (!00_). Estimates in some other parts ol'thc v1orld arc much higher. The slogan 'nothing about us vv itlwut us' became the title of James Charlton's 199X book chronicling the disability rights movement. Charlton tirst heard the term in talks by South Al'rican disabilit) aetiv ists ivlichacl 1\lasutha and William Rowland. vv lw had in turn heard the phrase used b) an Last Furopcan activist at an international disability rights conll:reilL'c (Charlton 199X). Familial dysautonomia is an Ashkcn;vi kvv ish genetic disease causing dysfunction of the autonomic and sensory nervous systems. Sec Dysautonomia Foundation. Inc .. 200X, ll'hot Is Familial /)rvuutonomiu:': http:. vvvvvv.l:unilial dysautonom ia.org1vv hat is l(f. htm. For further information. sec http://vvvvvv.rcclabilitics.org. The Including Samuel vvcbsite. created by filmmaker Dan llabib. is a remarkable intercactivc resource ol'll:ring readers not onl) inf\1rmation about the documentary Including Smuucl but also the opportunity to be in dialogue vv ith others and to find resource listings f(ll people vv ith disabilities and the educational system. Sec http://vv 11 vv. includingsamucl.cotw lwmc.asp:\. /If 'ired magazine reports on how ncvv and dcv eloping technologies--- especially digital tcchnolog.ics -afll:ct culture. the economy. the body and politics. Baggs is also a prolific bloggcr. I recommend spending some time on her blog. Ballastcxistcn:\. in which she elaborates on her philosophy and c:\penences. Sec http:/ /ba llastcxistcnz. 11 ordprcss.com; gossip- flec-zonc .. For a rcvicvv of this research, sec the section entitled 'Medical Benefits' on the Virtual Ability Island vvcbsitc: http:/'\\\1\\.virtualability.mg va medical ben eli ts.aspx. Amanda Baggs, /Jc>ing WI Unperson, uploaded to YouTube on 3 1\:ov ember 2006 ( http://\v \\\\ .youtube.com 1vv atch'.\ -4c5 3v\ qZ3 Lk); Amanda Baggs. flo\\ ro 11oil flitter rhc Lusr ilitr. uploaded to YouTubc on 17 June 2007 (http: v\vvvv youtubc .com; watch'\ -4c5 3wqZ3 Lk). This comment on Baggs' You Tube can be ftllllld at: http:, 11\\ vv .youtube.com \v atch'\--9J1Ji I LYq6Rs. I am a ltlllllding co-director of the Center l(l! Religion and Media (at :'\lev\ York University),\\ hich began in 2003. The\\ mkshop described here \1 as organiz.cd by the ongoing. working group "Jews. Media, Religion organized by Barbara
g~omctric

YouTubc is a video-sharing website\\ here users can upload, share and display a wide variety ol' user-generated \ideo content, including mm ic and TV clips. music videos and amateur content such as short ong.inal videos. 2. no-it-rotll.ve/( or DIY. is a broad term that rclcrs to independent music, art and film that cultivates a homemade, lm\-tcch sensibility. 3. Interestingly, when I have shown a clip of/nAir Language during public talks. people involved in experimental lilm find this v\ork a ri\cting. e:\amplc of the experimental film genre. although that is not Bag.gs\ intention. 4. I am honoured to contribute to a collection thai seeks to extend the ideas and methods of anthropology as a v1ay to understand the profound changes in cuilund worlds that arc catalyzed by digital technologies. Hovv e\ cr. I find the term digital unthm;wlogr to be rather avvk\\ard; did v\c ever think of our work as wwlogue onthro;)()logr' 1 When writing about the complexities of the transformations produced by the presence (or absence) of digital media, I prckr to usc terms such the digital uge which clearly means difkrcnt things to New Yorkers than it docs to indig.enous people in Australia a point I underscore in my article, Rethinking. the Digital Age ( 200X ). \\ hich cautions against the ethnocentric enthusiasms produced by the illusion that digital technologies ha\ c indeed created a global village. To rcinf(lrcc that point, according to Internet World Slats. an c.xccllenl resource on globallnlcrnctusagc, as of March 2011. only 30 per cent ol'thc v\urld population has access to the Internet (http://\\ W\v.internclvlorldstats.com/stals. htm). Discovering what that UllC\Cil distribution or the Internet means in terms ol' people's everyday c\pcricncc ol' communication. identity. community and so f(Jrlh in the digital age despite the popular illusion that the v\'lwlc world is vv ired is exactly the work ol'books such as this collection. 5. What counts as digital is avast array or technologies; by necessity. this chapter vv ill be limited to only a lC\v or these l(mns. As (ioggin and Ncvvell point out in their 2003 boule !Jigitul /)isuhilitr: 7lw Social Constrttction ojDisuhilitr in
Snr i\kdiu,

7.

X.

9.

10. II.

12.
13.

14.
N~v1 digital communications !lchnologies, or n~w m~dia. includ~ th~ lnt~rnd and broadband nctv1orks ( l~1sL high-capacity data s~rv ic~s). advanced t~lccommunications nctv1 orks (olkring s~rvices such as caller ID, digital mobile phonc:s, third gcnc:ration mobile t~lccommunications. video telcphon~s), and digital broadcasting (11 ith digital television). There is a b~vvildering. prolil'cration o!' communications and m~dia technolog.ies that ar~ promised to r~volutionizc our liv~s. ('\iii)

15.

16. 6. Second Lite (SL or 2Lik) is an immcrsivc virtual \lorld launched in2003 and is accessible via the Internet.;\ l'rcc client program called the Second Ulc l'icm'r enables users, called residents, to interact 11 ith each other through avatars. Built into the sotiv1arc is a three-dimensional modelling tool based on simple 17.

r
122 /)igitol /1nthmt){)logr

IJisuhilitr in the /)igitul.lgc 123

Kirshcnhlatt-Gimhlctt and Jeffrey Shandlcr. For more inl(mnation on the centre, sec httr://crm.as.nyu.cdu/ragc/homc: on the activities of the working grour, sec the MODIYA Project: httr:l/modiya.nyu.cdu/. IX. Virtual Ability, Inc __ is a website that collects a range of resources li1r people with disabilities. It is a nonrrotit corroration based in Colorado. As the website explains, 'Our mission is to enable rcople with a wide range or disabilities hy providing a supporting environment li1r them to enter and thrive in online virtual worlds like Second Lite.' Sec httr:i/virtualahility.org/vanama\. I 0. 20. asrx. Sec the magazine :!Uk at http://\\Ww.21ikmagazinc.com/. Parables arc stories that ask us to examine our C\ cryday assumrtions about the usual order ofthings, 'a traditional technique li1r coping with rrohlematic social situations' providing 'a microcosm of the life situation and a projected resolution' ( Kirshcnhlatt-Ciimhlctt 1975: 107, I 2l ). The term 'rarablc of possibility' has been used hy economist Russell Roberts (200X) in his novella about the virtues of the licc market and the creativity or the American economy and hy literary scholar Terence Martin's ( 1995) study of the American literary fixation with 'beginnings'.

26. Thanks to John Michalczyk li1r a\ cry helpful com crsation on this. 27. For more information sec http::/v\\\ \\.virtualahility.org. aboutus.aspx. 2X. For more intimnation sec httr://\vww.virtualability.org.'aboutus.~tspx. 20. Second Life Healthy consolidates information on all SL acti\ it) related to health care taking plaCL' in this virtual world. Sec ll(llncss !slund. http: slhealthy. wetraint.com/ragc!Wcllncss + Island. 30. The International Disability Rights Affirmation Conl'crcncc took place on 2J-+ July 20 II at Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability Island: sec http: ctcchlib. wordprcss.com/20 II /07/26/sccond-1 i l'c- i ntcrnat ion a 1-disabi Iit y-rights-a rtirma t ion-con f'crcncC-0\'Cr\' iCW '. 31. For more intimnation sec http://virtualability.org;aboutus.aspx. 32. For more inlimnation sec http: 1/virtualability.org. aboutus.aspx.

References
Aim, N., .1. L. Arnott, I. R. Murray and I. Buchanan. I 09X. Virtual Reality for Putting People \\ ith Disabilities in Control. Sn/c'lll.l . .\fan, and Crhemetics 2: 1174 9. Anderberg. P.. and B. Jiinsson. 2005. Being There. /)isahilit\ and Swictr 20( 7): 710-33. Baggs, A. 2007. In .\fr
l~onguogc.

21.

Stein (2007) otTers a quote indicating hmv preliminary our knowledge of digital lite is, from the National Science Foundation social scientist William Sims Bainbridge: Researchers say they arc only starting to appreciate the imract or this phenomenon. "We're at a major technical and social transition with this technology. It has very recently started to become a very big deaL and we haven't hy any means digested what the implications arc."'

YouTubc, l.f January. http:i/\\\\\v.youtuhc.com

watch' 1v--JnyiM I hl2jc. Biever. C. 2007. Let's Meet Tomornm in Second Li l'c .. \e11 .\'cienti.1t 2(1 I 0 (J unc ): 26-7. BoellstorfC T. 200X. Coming oj/1ge in Second Uj(. :In .lnthmpologi.1tl~\plores the

22.

For more inlimnation see http://virtualability.org/nt medical benclits.aspx.

23. Citing Mauss (i 19351 1979) on body techniques and Ellul ( 1964) Oil the age or tcchnc and drawing on the cxrcrienccs of Second Lire residents with disabilities, Boellstor1Targucs that alllim11s of embodiment-both virtual and actualarc inlimncd by tcchnc, 'which is one reason why the notion of the rosthuman inadequately charactcri;cs virtual scllhood. Yet this very continuity also allows virtual embodiment to destabilize the human' (200X: 135).

Virtuullr Human. Princeton, N.J: Princeton Uni\ crsity Press.


Bouquet M. 200 I. Making Kinship'' ith an Old Rcproducti\ c Technology. In Relu-

tin' Values: Rccon/iguring 1\inshiJI S'tudic.~. cd. S. Franklin and S. McKinnon. X5-115. Durham, NC: Duke lJ niv crsity Press. Bourdicu. P. [19721 1977. Outline oju Thmrr o/l'roctice. Vol. 16. trans. R. Nice.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press Charlton, J. 199X. ,'\'othing :lhout Cs Without ls: /)isahilitr OJ!J!ression und rmJIOl\'-

24. According to the US Census Bureau, among the 15. I rcr cent of the total US ropulation classified as disabled, only 36.7 per cent of those between the ages of sixteen and sixty-lilllr arc employed (as opposed to aprroximately 90 per cent or higher among the general rorulation in the same age group). The American Factfindcr is an online resource created by the US Census Bureau. The numbers cited here arc based on their 20 I 0 census rerorts. Sec htt r:/ !ractti ndcr.ccnsus.gov /scrv lct/S TTab le'?bm-y&-geo id --0 I 000 US&qr name ACS 2007 3YR CiOO SIXOI&-ds name ACS_2007_3YR

cnncnt. Berkeley: U ni\ crsity of California Press.


Christiansen, C .. B. Abreu, K. Ottcnbacher, K. Hutlinan. B. Masci and R. Culpepper. I 99X. Task Pcrtimnancc in Virtual Environments Used till Cogniti\ c Rehabilitation <tllcr Traumatic Brain Injury. .lrchil'Cs o(l'hrsicul .\lcdicine ond Rclwhilita-

tion 79( X): XXX--92.


Coleman, Ci. 20 I 0. Ethnographic Approaches to Digital Media . . lnmwl Rnicll' o(

Anthmpologr 39: 4X7 -505.


Cooper, A. 2007. Why We Should Listen to Unusual' Voices. 21 February. http:
WW\\. en n. comiC N N /Programs/a ndcrson. cooper. .160 :b log

c;oo .
25. A blog created to teach pcorle how to make avatars, clothing, skins, textures and animations in Second Lire can he linmd at http://scshat-czcrct.blogsrot.com/.

200 7:02 \\ h y-\\ c-

should-1 i stcn-to-unusua 1-voi ccs. h tml.

124 /)igitul.1nthmlwlog\'

f)f,uhilill' in 1/ic /)igilul.l,\;'' 125

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Mauss. M. II 'J351 1979. Body Techniques. In Socio/og1 und 1'1_\'clw/ogl'.' Fs.li/.1'.1 hr .\!arccl .\!aus.1. trans. B. BrC\\Slcr. ')5 123. london: Routledge and Kcgan Paul. Miller. D. 20 II. lidesjiwn Fucchook Cambridge: Polity Press. Parsons. S .. and P. Mitchell. 2002. The Potential ol' Virtual Reality in Social Skills Training I(Jr People \\ ith Autistic Spectrum Disorders . .lou mol of ln!cllcclirul Wsahilill' Rc1mrch 4(>(5): 430 43. Rapp. R.. and F. Ciinsburg. 2001. 11 nabling Disability. Rc\\ riling 1<-:.inship. Rcimagining C'iti/Lnship. l'uhlic ( 'ul!ure 13(.l ): 533 56. Rapp. R.. and F. Ginsburg. 20 I 0. The I Iuman Nature oJ' Disability. \'ita! Topics Column . . lmericun .1111/im;){)logil/ 112(4}: 517. Rich. B. R. 1999. Collision. Catastrophe. ( 'clebration: The Rl'iationo;hip Bl'l\\ ccn Ciay and Lesbian Film Fcsti1 a is and Their l'ublics. c;UJ .I .lou mal ot1nhiun and Gar Sl!rdies 5( I ): 79 X4. Roberts. R. 200X. The !'rice o/Ftcr:r!hing: .1/'umhle o/l'ollihilill' and !'rmpl'l'ill. Princl'lon. N.J: Princeton University Press. Sahlins. M. I9X5. lslund1 of/ lis/or\'. Chicago: Lini1 crsity or Chicago Press. Sclmcik. S. M. 2009. The L~\;h IAnt.l: !Jisahilill' in l'uh/ic Nc11 York: Ne11 York Uni1crsity Press. Shapiro. J. 2006. Autism Movement Seck,; Acceptance. l\iot Cure,; .. Ill Things Considered. National Public Radio. 26 June. http: \\11 11.npr.org ll'mplatcs stor: story. php' 1story Id c54XX463. Shirky. C. 200X. llcre ( 'omcs 1:-\'cr\'hodl'.' lhc l'ott't'l' o/(h;\;uni::.ing IJillwul (hguni::.alions. New York: Penguin. Snyder. S. L.. and D. T. Mitchell. 200X. 'llm1 Do We (iL'l.-\11 Till'SL' Disabilitico; in Here''': Disability Film Fcstinlis and the Politico; ori\typicality. ( 'unudiun .Journal o/Fi!m .'\llrdics 17( I): II 29. Srcbcrny. A .. amiCi. Khiabany. 20 I 0. 8/ogislan: The ln!crnl'l and f'olilics in Iran. London: I. B. Tauris. StLin. R. 2007. Real I lope in a Virtual World. llir1hinglon l'o,l. 6 October. http:i/1\\\\\.\\ashingtonpost.comil\p-dynconll'nt articil' 2007 10 05 AR20071 0050239 l.html. Ste\ ens. L. 2004. Online Patient Support: Mostly a l~oon. but Challenges Remain. .Hedicinc on !he .Vel I 0( 3 ): I 6. Thornton. M .. S. Marshall. .1. McC'omas. II. Fincstonc.;\. McCormick and II. Slcistrup. 2005. Benefits or Acti1 ity and Virtual Reality Based Balance 1\.crcisL' Programmes l(>r Adults 11 ith Traumatic Brain Injury: Perceptions or Participants and Their Carcgi1 crs. Hrain Injuries 19( 12 ): 9X9 I 000. Van Gelder. L. [ 19X51 199 I. The Strange C'asc or the 1-:Jcctronic Lo1 cr. In(_ 'orn;){(/('1'i::.ation and C'onlm1en:r: I(t/uc C'/win's and Sociul ( 'on/lic/s. cd. ( . Dunlop and R. Kling. 364-75. Boston: Academic Press. Whitcbcrry. W. 200X. The Story or the I Icron Sanctuary. lmuginulion .lgc. 24 .lanua ry. http: 1/\\ \\\\.the imagi nat ionag_e .ncL 2 OOX. 0 I story-or- hcron-o;a net ua ry. h t mi.

126 /Jigitul i!nthmjJo/ogr

Williams, 1'., and D. Nicholas. 2005. Crl'ating Onlinl' Rl.'sourcl.'s J(Jr thl' Vulnl'rabil'. Lihmrr ul/if /njimnulion UjJdule 4(4): 30 I. Wolman, D. 200X. Thl' Truth /\bout Autism: Scil'ntists Rl.'considl.'r What They Think Thl'y Kno\\. Wired 16(3 ). http:/!\\\\ \\.wirl.'d.com/ml'dll'ch/hl.'alth/magaz.inl'/ 16-03/lf autism''currl'ntPagl' all. i\ccl'SSL'd .lunl.' 6 2012. Wurzburg, ( i. 20 I 0. II i'C!clw.1 and Juhhercn: Storiesjiwn the Road Film. ;\ rl'a 23!\.

~6~

Approaches to Personal Communication


Stej(ma Broadhent

This chapll'r is COilCL'rnl'd with a particular fil.'ld \\ ithin digital anthropolog) that or pL'rsonal communication. It will show that thl' athent of digital ll'chnologil's has had particularly pl'rsonal conSL'lJUL'IlCL's. bl.'causl' communication itsl.'lfis so Cl'ntral to thl' way rl.'lationships are constitutl'll and negotiatl.'d. Thl' intl'ntion of the chaptn is to mO\ L' bl.'yond SJ1L'CUJati\e suggestions as (O the COnSL't]UL'nL'L'S of the proJ i!(:ration of new communication media and to conccntrall' insll'ad upon the findings that arc mm available through dctaiil'd ethnographic research. The core of the chapter consists oft\\ o case studies. The first is concerned \\ ith an extraordinary transl(mnation in the relationship bet\\ ccn \\ ork and Jllln\\ork situations. such that boundaries that had been de\ eloped I(H m cr a century and assumed to be essential I(Jr the elkcti\ c carrying out of\\ ork in the modern \\ orld hm e almost entirely been breached by Ill'\\ tcd111ologics. The second case stud) considers the sheer number of nc\\' channels and de\ ices a\ ailahlc and shm\s that these ha\ c become more than the SUm of their imfiYiduaJ ftll'lllS that together they cffccti\ eJ) rcsoci~tlizc the relationship bel\\ cen pcopk and technology. Before presenting the case studies. the first part of the chapter I(Jcuscs upon some general findings tiom recent research and describes the ongoing debate regarding tilL' effect of mediated communication on sociality. The context l(lr this discussion is the rise or SC\ end ne\\ communication technologies. In the last t\\Cnty years. \\C ha\C SCL'n the\\ idcsprcad adoption ora \ariety of new communication channels: e-maiL\\ hich I(Jr many years constituted the main driver for users to go online: instant messaging in \ arious limlwts: uscnet groups: online I(Jrums: mobik \ oicc calls: texting: voicc-o\ cr-lntcrnct proloLol ( Voll'): and an array of social ncl\\orking sites. Interestingly. the adoption of these channels did not l(llhm a linear sequence. and in diiTcrcnt countries the discmery and uptake of the \ arious channels 1\JII(m cd ditkrcnt roull's. Some countries led the \\a\ in mobile telephony usage.\\ ith \cry intense carl) usc of short message sen icc (SI\IS. or ll'xting) (as discussed by lgarishi. Takai and Yoshida 2005 in Japan: Kascsniemi 200.\ in Finland: Paragas 2005 in the Philippines). Others anticipated the\\ idcr adoption of instant messaging, as did the United States\\ ith ;\ 11\1 ( i\OL instant messaging), ( 'hina \\ ith QQ and South Korea\\ ith ( 'yworld social IlL'(\\ orking. The reasons

128 !Jigitul ilnthm;){}/og\'


for such diversity had more to do with national policies leading to dillcrcnccs in the availability of broadband connections or mobile sen ices than\\ ith cultural spccilicitics. Currently in most amucnt countries, inliastructural de\ clopmcnt and a greater harmoni/ation of policies mean that there is a greater uniformity of access and pricing across markets. and users arc exposed daily to the whole palette of communication possibilities. accessing all the channels mentioned above liom difl'crcnt devices and olien \\ ithin single services. Turning to social dimensions. the advent of digital communication technologies has generally been presented as an expansion of our social cmironmcnts. We talk of the death of distance and imagine that this is an cxpansiv c '' orld that brings us out of the claustrophobia of constrained personal relationships and leads us to \\ide landscapes of networking and extension. In this perspective, place-based ties arc shattered in favour of interest-based connections created remotely. independent of physical proximity. This idea has permeated the culture of soliwarc development in the last fifteen years and has given rise to innumerable platforms for online communities to nourish. Online, interest-based communities also became the object of scrutiny by the social sciences as soon as such communities started attracting the early adopters of the Internet. In the 1990s. nC\\ fields of research cmcrucd from the interaction between the social and computing sciences. such as compLutcr-mcdiatcd communication. whose main object of analysis were the first online collaborative environments: uscnct ncwsgroups. chat rooms and multi-user dungeons (MUDs). These groups. which only involved a fraction of Internet users at the time. were extensively researched because of their novelty and because they embodied the features of what seemed to be the major social transformation the Internet was introducing. Nc\Vsgroups aggregated people who wanted to discuss and collaborate on specific issues of interest. and MUDs \\CIT the first multi player role-playing games in which users created fictional characters for themselves and played vv ith other gamcrs online. In her analysis of MUDs. Sherry Turkle ( 1995) described the first cases of multiple virtual identities. an experience that has nm\ become f~1r more widespread. The idea that people could entertain intense. fruitful and emotionally rich relationships in virtual spaces that were created to bring toucthcr similar-minded people with common interests regardless of their gcographi-

,'lfifWOuchcs to l'cnonal C'nllllllllllicotion 129

\\as highly influential in the analysis of online communities (Sproull and Kiesler 1991: Suchman 19X7). The advent and even more staggering speed of adoption of mobile phones introduced a completely di ffcrcnt angle to our understanding of remote personal communication. Much more personal dcv ices than computers. mobile phones sustained one-to-one conversations rather than group exchanges. Designed for \ oicc calls. which arc principally person-to-person. and then extended to support tcxting. \\ hich again is primarily a dyadic form of exchange. mobile phones surpassed PCs in number of users. in intensity of exchanges and in the signi1icancc users attributed to them as social tools. Ret ween 2000 and 200(1, a series of seminal \\orks on mobile phone usage by Kat/ and Aakhus (2002): Ito and Okabc (2005): Ito. Okabc and Matsuda (2005): Ling (2004): Fortunati (2003): de Ciournay and Smorcda (2003) and Licoppc and Smorcda (2005) identified what have proven to be enduring l'caturcs of mobile communication. Mobile phones arc a lim\ ing people to maintain perpetual contact \\ ith an intimate sphere of relationships. Ito and Okabc (2005) described the sense of permanent mutual awareness that Japanese teenagers \\ere experiencing while tcxting. The tightening of connections has also been found in Afiica (De Bruijn. Nyamnjoh and Nyamnjoh 2009). Asia Pacific (Hjorth 200X). China (Wallis 200X) and India (Lee 2009: Priyanka 20 I 0). Jonathan Donner ( 2006) reported the intense social and personal usc of mobile phones by microcntrcprcncurs in R \\ anda. \\here he found that more than two-thirds of calls and texts were directed to fiunily and fiicnds. Horst and Miller (2006) argue that Jamaicans cultivate cxtcnsi\c pcrsonalnct\\orks to subvert the limits ofthcir local community or familialnct\\orks. and they also use the mobile phone to intensify existing relationships. Suncys such as those of the Australian Research Council (Bittman. Brmvn and Wajcman 2009) or by !Iampton. Sessions and tier (20 II) in the United States later confirmed on large samples of users that the \ ast majority of calls and texts arc exchanged between close family members and fiiends. highlighting \vhat Ling (200X) has called the 'bounded solidaritics'. 1 Paradoxically. these studies s\\"ung the debate on digital communication in a different direction fimn the initial euphoria about the rcncv\al of communities and nc\\ forms of extensive sociality. Other social scientists critically examined the opposite hypothesis: that mediated comnHlllication triggers a process of indiv iduali/ation (Boase and Wellman 2006: Kraut ct al. 199(1, 199X: Ling and Campbcll2009). This debate\\ as rooted in a \veil-established sociological discussion on the historical evolution of sociality towards a reduction of' social cohesion and public engagement (Fisher 19X2: Ciranovcttcr I l)73: Putnam 2000: Sennett 199X). ;\number of common practices among mobile phone users (such as making pri\atc calls in public spaces) were taken as signs of disengagement fiom the public sphnc and a clear concentration on close personal tics (Harper 20 I 0: Ling 200X). People\\ ere seen as detaching themselves from their surroundings to focus on more distant but also oticn more

~al situation and their social and cultural belonging elicited an initial intellectual
euphoria. Manuel Caste lis. in The Rise of" the Nct\\ork Societr ( \1996] 2000). argued for the transformativc nature of information nct\\orks on social. political and economic relations: Howard Rhcingold (2002) was a vocal advocate of the role of communication technology in amplifying the human capacity for cooperation. In the related fields of computer-supported collaboration and computer-supported collaborative \vork. [)ourish and Bclloti ( 1992) and Nardi, Whittaker and Bradner (2000) also pointed out the role of technology in transforming cooperation in social groups. Researchers in computer-supported learning found potential avenues for online 'communities of practice' a term used by La\e and Wenger ( 1991) that

130 /Jigitul Anthmtwlogr

, lfifiroaclws to l'cnnnal ( 'omlllllllication 131

intimate and established relationships through their mobile phones. The attention of callers was directed to their remote interlocutors. excluding the people they were in the presence of. Similar patterns of isolation were described by Bull (2000) in his analysis oft he usc of personal music dcv ices such as M P3 players to create boundaries for the sci f. This set of behaviours were interpreted as a tendency to priv ilegc the private tics at the detriment of the public ones (Campbell 2007). The interactional violations that occur when a person is negotiating both private/remote conversations and public/co-present exchanges have been analysed within the fiamc of rckrcncc of (iollinan "s ( 1959) theory of front and backstage. These findings suggested that the accepted understandings of what represents the pri\ ate sphere and the public sphere were undergoing fundamental and rapid change which \\as best appreciated through an ethnographic encounter with the minutiae of everyday communication. Once the personal nature of mobile communication was identified. other digital channels were also found to he dedicated primarily to a small number of contacts: instant messaging users. ror instance. regardless of long 'buddy" lists. interacted primarily with a few nllnily members and close friends (Kim ct al. 2007). Nardi. Whittaker and Schwarz (2002) found that I M users 'chatted" regularly with only four or tivc of their IM buddies. which is the same number Schiano and colleagues (2002) found for teenagers. A report fiotn the Pew Internet and American Li k Project (2000) on e-mail practices also f(nlnd that in private usage. the main recipients of messages were family connections. More recently. data on users" practices in social networking sites-a platf(mn that. by definition. was designed to support extensive social group interaction---have revealed that intense communication is concentrated among a few regular contacts. Researchers distinguish between reciprocal active exchanges and maintaining a sense of background awareness of others through public status updates (Faccbook Data Team 2000: Kim and Yun 2007: Park. !-leo and Lee 200X). One-to-one reciprocal conversations on social networking sites arc still dedicated to a small group of interlocutors (fewer than ten. according to the Facchook Data Team) who tend to be people who communicate via other media. Baym (20 I 0) also points out that very strong bonds can emerge based on intense online exchanges around a common interest (such as music or the need f(Jr mutual support or companionship) but that these olicn move on to other communication channels as well or evolve into
ntcc-to-f~tcc

Most ohscr\ations concur that the main consequences of the proliferation orne\\ media channels ror people\ everyday li\cs is not ncccss<irily the cxtcnsionofnc\\ social connections on a global scale or the culti\ at ion of social capital. hut rather the intensification of a small group or highly intimate relationships that hm c no\\ managed to match the richness of their social connectedness 11 ith a richness or multiple communication channels. The transformati\c nature of digital communication channels as a means of shattering the limitations orthc local is thcrcrorc not percci,cd as a means of transcending existing tics. but as a way of achic\ ing something else: the possibility to expand the co-present into the remote and thus maintain relationships thai arc emotionally close hut geographically distant and the im as ion ofpri\ate personal exchanges in spaces that banned them for di tfcrcnt normati\ c reasons. Regarding the first point. a growing body of research examines the usc or dit~ krcnt channels in transnational relationships. and in migration in particular (Ros and De Ia Fuente 2011 ). These studies show the extent of migrants" implication in video calls. photo sharing. online chatting and all other means of maintaining contact. These studies arc delving into issues of remote parenting. distant romance and social remittance (Levitt I99X). On the second aspect. the expansion of the pri\atc. I ha\ c mentioned the research on public spaces such as transport and restaurants. In my own research I have started looking at spaces that arc not only public hut also institutional -workplaces. schools. hospitals: places wherL' the social structures arc explicitly maniiCsted in institutionalized norms of bcha\ iour. In particular. I hmc analysed the effect ofpri1atc communication on organi;.ations in \lhich the personal sphere had been cxpl icitly banned f(ll many years (Broadbent 20 II).

Case Study One: Communication at Work


Workplaces hav c historically erected a strict barrier bet\\ ccn the realms of'' ork and nomvork. as though workers would be incapable of fulfilling their commitments to labour i fthcy
\\CIT

to have the distraction of potential communication'' ith the\\ idcr

world. It is these spheres which at the moment arc most subject to change. hen though there has been a rise of other. more flexible l(mns of \\"\Jrk. the conception which equates work to a paid job obtained through universalistic criteria and carried out <may fiom home in a dedicated organi;.ation is still dominant and is possibly expanding geographically (Edgell 2006 ). The separation bet\\ ccn '' orkplacc and home. dcri1 cd frotn the gcncrali;.ation of the organi;.ational models or industrial capital isms. continues to imply a strong correlation between attention. time and prnductivity. The control of attention. in particular. as a source of ctTccti\ c labour has become an integral part ofthe management of human resources. Within this context. the\\ ide adoption of private mobile phones and pri1 ate digital communication in the workplace not only challenges the social boundaries erected around the\\ orkplacc. but also reestablishes a certain autonomy in the management of indi' idual attention

encounters. Haythornthwaitc (2005) had already shown that the closer a relationship is. the greater the number of channels that arc used to keep in touch. On the contrary. distant. weak tics arc usually contacted with only one medium. and any breakdown in that medium can unintentionally sever the relationships. danah boyd (2007) and Nancy Baym evoked this point in their personal blogs in May 20 I 0 (zcphoria.org and
onlind~mdom.com).

where they debated why people cannot give up Facebook even

in light of the company's breaches of privacy. Shutting down Faccbook would. in many cases. permanently sc\cr the tics with many contacts that arc maintained only through this channel.

132 !Jigital /1nthropolog\'

.lf!;mwchc.~

to l'cnunol ( umlllllllicotion 133

(Madden and Jones 200X). Restrictions of access to certain \\ebsites and to mobile phones and other communication channels are therefore to be understood as attempts to preserve the boundaries between social spheres and as forms or organizational control on attention. But the widespread use or computers with Internet connections in the workplace represented a fundamental challenge to the maintenance of' thi~ strict duality bet\\CCn work and leisure. Starting in2004. the Observatory ot'lJsagc within the telecoms operator Swisscom ran a variety of' studies on digital life in Switzerland (Broadbent and Bauwens 200X). The studies combined traditional network data analysis with ethnographic projects on various aspects of communication. employing a number of' anthropologists in this task. Our approach was both longitudinal and systematic. as \\ c wished to repeat our research over a period or years. Every year. I(H instance. \\ c collected communication diaries !'rom hundreds or respondents. For l(lltr days. each informant filled in a paper diary indicating the l(lllowing details l(lr each mediated exchange: the interlocutor. the channel used, the content. the time and the place where it took place. Once completed and analysed. the diary. in an exercise of' autoconfiontation (Mollo and Falzon 2004). became the basis ol' discussion with the informants on their communication practices and relationships. The data were also collated to identify patterns ol' usage. For instance we scrutinized correlations between communication partners and locations or contact. These studies were not specifically intended to uncover comnntnication behaviours at \\ork or in schooL but they did provide a first reliable insight on how much private communication was happening outside the house. Between 200() and 20 II. I carried out a series of' studies on private communication in the workplace in Italy. France and the United Kingdom. I observed that. while personal communication from the\\ orkplacc has become the norm. there is a persistent social tension surrounding this practice. The availability or multiple channels has become a vehicle l'or circumventing institutional regulations and l(Jr enabling communication between people in dil'l'crcnt institutional settings (Broadbent 20 II). Employees are simply choosing the channels that arc most compatible with the restrictions present in their work environment and with the limitations or the situational context or their interlocutors. Employers vary in thci r le\ cl or acceptance ol' these practices. While some employers are tolerant ol' private c-mails. they may be less so or personal calls. Other organizations may block access to all but internal e-mail and may tolerate mobile phones. We observed that in workplaces where there were no rules and an easy and personal acccs~ to the Intcrnct. employees simply used all the channels at their disposaL timn e-mail to social networks to instant messaging. Institutions that were controlling and that banned mobile phones or limited Internet access to certain wcbsitcs simply encouraged individuals to lind a solution---such as hiding or accessing a remote server stay in touch. Once the
\I ails

of' connectivity. such as 11 ith their close l~unily. they\\ ill dc1 isc a solution to ensure the communication. Regardless or the degree or digital ficcdom. \\C lilund that lC.'\lual channels ( c-mai I. tcxting. instant messaging) 11 ere preferred to 1 oicc. l(n their unobtrusi1 L' nature and fi.1r their asynchronocity. \\ hich alltms both speakers to manage their attention. The usc ol'tcxting and other ll'\t-bascd channels is spread C\ cnly throughout the day (Orticc or Comnutnication 20 I 0): \ oice calls arc clustcrL'd in the L'\ cning. The timing of' the C\changcs during the day do not occur at random nwmcnts. though: rather. they l'ollm1 some generalized patterns. For in~tancc. at S11 isscom. 11 hen 11 c analysed the diaries ol' communication concentrating on the time ol' c.'\changcs rclati\c to the recipient. 11c l(ntnd that the closest tics 11crc most likely to be contacted bct\\ccn II :00 a.m. and 6:00p.m .. \1 ith peaks at .\:00 p.m. and .:'i:OO p.m.: 11cakcr tics were contacted alter 6:00p.m. This is not surprising and conlinns \\hat
\I

c kilO\\

about the dil'f'crcnt li.mns of communication people usc acLording to ho11 distant they arc both geographically and emotionally (Calabrese ct al. 2007). \\'cakcr or distant ties need longer exchanges. because more mutual ground has to be constructed during the com ersation.

( 'al!sjiwn 11(!/k to sIIJ!por/ BoundmT Tmnsitions


Other temporal patterns emerged within the 1\orking schedule indicating routines that intersected with the dif'fercnt phases of the \\Orking day: tra1cJJing to \\Ork. entering the workplace. the\ arious phases or acti\ ity. breaks and Iem ing the\\ orkplacc. Lxchanges 1\ ith tiicnds and l~unily seem to match the transitional phases ol' the day and in particular to support the moments in 11 hich people change their roles and their I(JCus of' attention. Peak moments of communication arc 11 hen k<n ing 1\nrk or\\ hen finishing a set or acti\ itics. The journey to work is not only a physical transportation. but also a psychological transl(mllation !'rom the home persona to the \\ork persona. In her book 1/on!e und

IIIJ!'k ( 1096). Chrisll'na Nippert- Eng described hm1 people go through a set of rituals
to mm c liom their home mentality to their\\ ork mentality. The separation bell\ ccn home and \vorkplacc is not just a spatial one: the t\\O en\ ironmcnts correspond to two social identities. Nippcrt-Eng\ respondents had elaborate techniques and habits to shed their home mentality in the morning and get into the 11 ork mentality. and then leave the protessional mode behind them in the c1 cning to resume their pri\ ate persona at home. These practices could be as simple as putting on specific clothes li.lr each em ironment. reading the nc\\spaper. drinking coffee or ha1 ing a beer at the end of' the day. Three phenomena seem to be happening in the morning: people put on a l~1cc or persona compatible with their prokssional role. the; build up their conccntratton l(lr the execution ol'thcirjob and. in order to achic1 c this. the; acti1 ely rcmm c personal

to usc at least one channel to

of' the workplace have been breached. and employees

become used to the idea that being at work should not be at the expense of key li.mns

134 /)ig,i!al.ln!hmpnlng\'

ljij!mai'/w, lo /',no!lill ( oi/Jillllllinllion 135

issues from their al\cntion span. This last point is accomplished by acli\ itics such as tidying up hci(H-c lea\ ing the house and pcrl(mning separation rituals with l:unily members. In our ohscn a\ ions in Swil/crland. respondents listened to different types of music and radio channels on the way \o work than they did on the\\ ay back home. and they read di llcrcnt newspapers and drank di llcrcn\ drinks. 1\ crything on the way to \\ork \\as oriented towards building up I(Jcus. atlcnlion and conccntra\ ion. On the way back home. it ''as a II about \Vi nd ing do\\ n and rccnlcri ng the pri\atc space. So when we think in terms or llC\\ communication technologies disrupting the prior boundaries bct\\ccn work and nom\ork. this is not a simple or absolute change. Rather. 1\C sec a process of gradual adoption and adaptation which has. in ciTcc\, humani,(cd the comcnlional distinctions and allmvcd a more gradual transition and more liberal interpretation of dillcrcncc. Data from mobile operators shows a peak of calls in the early evening (5:00p.m. to 7:00p.m .. depending on the habitual working schedule of a country). This time usually corresponds to the moment when most people leave their \\orkplacc. In the diaries thai we collected. calls and messages \\CIT done on a routine basis. all around the same time. These were not simply coordination/l'unctional calls. They 11crc daily conversations that marked the transition liom the professional \\ orld lo the pri\ ale \\ orkl. What these calls do is help people shed the professional stance and regain their priYa\c persona. In a certain sense. the calls rcdc1inc the person.\\ ho can quickly reenter the private or intimate role that was left a\ the door of the orticc in the morning. People have \old us that. \\hen they lex\ lo say 'I"m out". they arc making manikslthal they have crossed a threshold: they kLIthcy can fully reconnect with personal objects of al\cntion which they ha\ C largely SCI aside during their \\ ork time. What this means is !hal communication technologies arc used not lo abolish the distinction of work and home hut to help people manage and lake control oYer that transition.

some ritual acti\ itics such as brcakl;lst or preparing l(lr skcp . .\long '' ith the disruption of their sleeping cycles. this missing out on rituals at home has ah\ a\ s 11Lcn !he main complaint ofshili \Vorkcrs. Their L'alls liom \\ork. at cxacth the times that correspond to the rituals !hey arc missing. arc thcrci(Hc highly routini/cd and arc seen as a \tempts to compensate for'' hal is kit to he a major sa nil icc imposed b_\ !heir position. A classic cxampk ol'\\hall.ing (200X) rcll:rs to as ritual interaction~;, the calls actually become part of the household\ ritual. contributing to rcini(Jrcc the 1;uni ly cohesion. hen couples that arc on similar schedules c\changc some messages during the day- olicn lillie more than a 'hmY arc vou doing''' or 'ho\\ did it go'''. In many cases. the c.\changcs lilllm\ the closure ol'a certain phase ofacti\ ity the conclusion of a task. the end ol'a meeting or the end of a period of some sort. What is important is not \he COntent of the C.\Changc but !he contact, the e.\ traction from the physical context ofthc workplace to a space of intimacy. Changing the I(Jcus of attention and the social sphere seems to be an el'li:cti\ c \\a\' of marking a pause and signalling a break in !he llm\ of activity. By calling. ll'.\ting or posting or updating a status. the \\orkcr indicalcs \hat this time is not proli:ssional time: it is a time of personal agcnc~ and control or allen\ ion. When \\ c examine digital media usage in institutional scltings. \\ c do not sec a process of disengagement from \he public sphere. a l(lcali/ation Oil small pcrson~d cohcsi\ c groups. hut rather \he coc.\istencc in the same place of multiple registers of social arliliation. These multiple alliliations coc.\ist in people\ so,ialnct\\orks. as \\ell illustrated by Spencer and l'ahl (200h) in their hook on liiendship. \1cdiatcd communication allo\\ s these connections to he accessible concurrently. People '' ho call their mothers from \vork arc demonstrating the capacity to L'ntntalll multiple roles and relationships. c\cn \\ ithin constrained and high!~ regulated scltings. The techniques of closing into the phone. creating a sort of enclosed. pri\ ate space of comersation thai excludes all other co-present indi\ iduals \\ hich (icrgcn (200X) describes as absent presence--- arc in my\ ic\\ simply ll'chniqucs to allo\\ the physical and spatial coexistence of the di l'li:rcnl social engagements. These hcha\ iours arc enacted to prcscn c the interactional patterns proper to thL' public stance. not to destroy them.

Contact during /York /1l'tilitr


Our data showed that when people arc at \\ork. they only contact their closes\ tics--- family and close friends. More distant friends and relations arc instead contaclcd ti01n home. The pri\ ale calls. c-mails and messages that arc sen\ during work hours Iii a paltcrn !hat can also he deli ned as transitional. In the diaries\\ c studied. \\c rcali/cd thai calls and texis during working hours had a routine quality. jus\ as did calls at the end of the day: they were repealed at more or less the same lime every day and oltcn matched transitions in the interlocutor's day. People who work night shilis or early morning shilis. li1r instance. always find a moment to wish their partners good morning or goodnight. In general. people '' ho have nonstandard working hours suffer from the 1:1cl lhcv cannot be a\ home l(lr

Case Study Two: Multiple Channels


The second case study concerns the consequences ol'thc CliiTL'Ilt ~1\ailability ofmultiplc coinmunication channels !hat lead people to make inl(mncd decisions abuu\ the medium they usc li1r c:1ch exchange and that add a Ill'\\ le\ el of comiminicational po\\cr lo digital media. The choice ol' a text or a call to contact somcOilL' <lll a specific topic is not seen as neutral. ncithn b; the recipient nor the emitter: un the contrary. it is highly meaningful inlixmatiOIL The hook h\ IIana Gershon. lhc

'
136 /)(l',ilill illlthmf!ologr .IJ!J!mochcs to l'cnouu/ ( ol/11/llllliculiou 137 /Jrcuku;! :l.li (:~010), ofkrs the best example of the interconnection between channel

our initial interest in hm\ people \\.:rc integrating commutticalions tcchnnlogics in their daily !ill: and how the process ol"domcslication \\as impacting their houSL'hold practices, \\C l(lllnd ourschcs J"ocusing more and more on htm ditkrcnl channels ''ere\\ caving into relationships such as liicndship, parenting or collaboration. One of our most ambitious studies in the Obscn a tory of Usage'' ithin

choice and relationship. (icrshon analyses media ideologies through students narrations of their breakups. By dissecting with them the texts, posts and c-mails that ha\ c accompanied the process or breaking up \\ ith a partner. Clcrshon analyses the subtle dilkrcnccs between con1munication channL'ls and bL'l\\Ccn people's beliciS about technologies. Not only do breakups happen on multiple media. \\ ith people lllO\ ing their COn\Crsations from media to media. but the choice of medium is a second-order inl(mnat ion that. according to Cicrslwn \ inl(mnants. provides crucial emotional cues on the nature or their relationships and their partm:rs. (icncrali;ing liom such cases, Madianou and Miller (2011) have proposed the \\ord 'polymcdia' I(Jr this new condition of multiplicity of channels. On the basis or their study oiTilipina mothers in London and the mothers' relationships to their children kit behind in the Philippines, Madianou and Miller argue that there arc 1\\o key conditions I(Jr polymcdia. l:irst, the a\ailability or several alternative channels must exist from text and voice phone to \\Cbcam, e-mail, social networking and others. But, equally important, once a computer with an Internet connection is purchased and a phone contract is secured, the cost or communication is embedded in this inlrastructurc, so any indi\ idual act or communication is no longer seen in relation to its cost. Under such conditions, Madianou and Miller lind that the mothers can no longer explain their choice of this or that media in terms or either access or cost. The situation (as with that or Gershon) implies that an indi\ idual is nm\ held morally responsible I(Jr which particular channel he or she employs. People recognize that one type of medium is good I(Jr a\ oiding arguments, another I(Jr keeping track of commitments; one gives power to the young. who understand its complexities. while another l~1vours older people because it depends on costly infrastructure. This means that, instead of thinking about any individual communicati\c medium, we have to consider each medium not only in terms of its specific aiTordanccs (sec Baym 20 I 0), hut also in terms of the '' idcr media ecology (sec Horst. HerrStephenson and Robinson 20 I 0), \\here it is deli ned rclati\ c to all the others that might ha\c been chosen instead. Indeed most relationships now depend on using sc\cral channels for dilfcrcnt aspects of the same relationship. This also means that comn1unication channels nm\ speak more directly to issues such as the control over emotions, di lkrcnccs in power and the moral ITsponsibility or media choice. In (icrshon's study. people may be as incensed by the selection ol"an inappropriate medium I(Jr dumping a boylricnd or girlfriend as the 1~1cl that they have been dumped. For Madianou and Miller, this means that the subtlest of media diiTercnccs can start to come much closer to the complexities or relationships, such as that between a mother and her !eli-behind children. In our own research, when we stopped tracking the adoption of a single channel at a time' and started looking at how people'' ere using the'' hole palette of digital media. our object or research shilled !"rom the domestication (Haddon 2004, 2006) or technology to communication it sci rand the relationships being entertained. From

s,, isscom

was a longitudinal study that ran between 2005 and 20 I 0. ( h cr a period or l(lllr years. my colleagues (Petra Hutter, Carolync H irt. Daniel Boos. Veronica Pagnamcnta. Susanne Jost. Cora Pauli and Jeanne Carum) and I I(JIIO\\ cd the c\ olution ot'thc digital liJC of sixty household~ (\\hich included 140 people). Jlouschoids \\l'rC located in the three linguistic regions or Swit;crland, in urban and rural areas. and included ntmilics with children. single parents. retired couples, ;oung singles and couples. Participants also had a range ofproiCssional acti\ itics and le\ cis ol"cmploymcnt. The households \\Crc visited twice a year. and all household members \\ere asked tolill in communication diaries. dnm maps ol" their homes. create a social map ol" their contacts and draw up a time line oftwo workdays and a day in the \\CL'kcnd. \Vc sal \\ith our int(mnants in liont of their l'lllllputcrs and obscn cd them na\ igatc the Internet. We asked them to sho\\ us the '' cbsitcs they prckrrcd and the online acti\ itics the) usually pursued. When possible we looked at the conlL'nt they\\ L'rL' storing on their PCs, such as pictures. music tiles, texts or 'ideos. We discussed TV and 'ideo consumption and musical preferences and habits. \Vc distinguished bct\\ccn indi\idual and collective activitic~. Over time we came to kmm them ''ell and obscn cd the changes in their li\e~ as much as in their digital habits. Year alter year. \\l' returned to households where children were born. couples l(mncd and dissol\ cd. jobs changed or were lost and homes were sold or rented. By systematically ohscn ing these transJ"ormations over time.'' e were attempting to identify the triggers I(Jr change in digital behaviours. We obviously obscn cd a number of adjustments in the usc oft he Internet as people discovered new '' cbsitcs and sen ic.:s and they adopted nC\\ de\ ices for media consumption and communication. Changes, hm\ c\ cr. ''ere l~1r slo\\ cr than '' c had anticipated; new practices emerged \cry gradually. '' ith most people tcntati\ ely trying out nC\\ activities without giving up prior habits. For instance taking pictures with mobile phones started slowly, coexisting '' ith digital cameras and analogue cameras for different occasions. Social networking sites started olf on \cry spccilic services with specialized interests fully integrated in existing olllinc sucial acti\ itics such as tillatc.com, a \\cbsitc supported by discos and clubs to share pictures and comments of parties members had attended. and Xing. com.'' hich aimed at sustaining professional connections. Only later did our inl"ormants adnpt nwrc personal forms of social networking services such as MySpacc. \Vhich included a much'' idcr and p.:rsonal variety or liicnds. T\\ n among the myriad results we collected arc particularly relc\ ant for this discussion. First, nearly all the transl(mnatinns in digital practices \\C obscn cd ''ere triggered by lil"c e\cnts such as a job chanf'_c. a mo\c ol" house or the departure of a l~unily member. This was particularly true of communication. In a number

138 /)igitul A nthmJIO/ogr

./flf}I'OUC!ICS

to

f'ci'.IOIIUf ( .il!/11/llllliC<IIioll

139

or households, lix instance, par~.:nts adopted ~.:-mail or Skypc when a child moved abroad, leli !'or military service or started working in another city. Teenagers stopped using instant messaging \vhcn they started apprenticeships and shilied most ol'thcir exchanges to tcxting. This t:l'l'cct ol'lil'c phases on communication had been described by Manccron, Lclong and Smorcda (2002) in an article regarding the changes in COilllllUilication behaviours following the birth or the lirst child and by Mercier, de Ciournay and Smorcda (2002) on the nc\\ patterns of calls alicr a move oi'rcsidcncc. Second, we nc\cr obscr\L'd any communication channel being abandoned. When a new scrvict: or channel was adopted, it \\as simply added to the others and it reorganized the way in which previous scniccs were used (e.g. instant messaging did not supplant e-mail or tcxting hut just rcdclincd their scope, and social networking sites did not replace phone calls or instant messaging). This process is compatible with \vhat .lay Holter and Richard Cin1sin (2000) called remediation. the process by which new media rcl:1shion older media. In some cases, the adoption or nC\\ channels led to increased usage oi' an older one, as is happening with tcxting, \\ hich is constantly growing despite the adoption and intense usc or social networking sites. This conlirms what llaythornthwaitc (200)) l(nllld regarding the increase of communication exchanges among heavy users ore-mail and the Internet. We also found that there is a snowball cfl'cct and that the greater the intensity or exchanges, the more likely people will he to usc multiple channels. What emerged !'rom the longitudinal study and !'rom the diary studies mentioned in the previous section was that the reorganization or channels and the allocation or new !'unctions l(lllowcd very determined paltcrns. Not just any channel can replace another li1r certain exchanges, because each channel is perceived as significantly di f. ICrcnt and there arc sophisticated strategies I(H selecting one or another l(lr a particular exchange. Long, periodic calls with a distant relative could not be transl(mncd into occasional tcxting, but would more easily he replaced by a regular Skypc call. Similarly. c-mails to distant liicnds could be replaced by status updates on social networking sites hut not by mobile calls. One or our more stable results, when we compared the usage or dil'l'crcnt channels by imli\ iduals over the years, was that channel switch was always among written or among oral channels, but never between modalities: f(H example, tcxting \\ ould give way to e-mail and \nice calls to VoiP calls. The reasons l(lr this rigidity arc to be round in the social expectations that underlie synchronous remote communication. Synchronicity/asynchronicity is \\ ithout doubt the 1:1ctor that has the strongest ci'ICct on communication practices. because it carries such strong implications for social interaction. Synchronous mediated communication has a very strong prerequisite: that both interlocutors he a\ ailablc at the same time l(lr the com crsation-availahle, willing and ready to dedicate the necessary amount or a!tcntion required l(lr the conversation. When two people arc t:lcc-to-l:lcc, it is easy for both interlocutors to sec and understand il'thc other person is a\ailable l(lr a conversation. When they arc distant, this readiness I(H con\ crsation must he in !'erred or negotiated. Many

sophisticated social techniques hm c been de\ eloped to L'llsurc readiness, such as sending a text or an e-mail lirst to ask ira call
Gill

be made or prearranging an ap-

pointment l(lr a call. Most people arc \\ell cl\\ arc or the demand li1r attention that a call implies. and this type or request is not done light I~ or unconscious!) or the social implications. Rt:spondcnts in the S\\ isscom studies mentioned that they al\\ ays thought t\\ icc before c;dling someone they did not knm1 \\ell on their mobile. The:;. \lould. in any case, not choose a synchronous channel to L'ommunicatc \\ ith a person in a \Cr) dil'l'crcnt hierarchical position, such as a superior or a IL'achcr.' Gi1 ing and asking i(Jr attention in communication is t:n flom a neutral social behaviour: it requires a sophisticated understanding ol' social norms and practices. The social practices regarding who \\ c should gi\ c attention to lirst, !'or hm\ long, hm1 much attention we should request and so i(Jrth arc high I:;. comple\, and there arc clear links bet\\ een attention and pm1 cr, attention and gender and attention and education. Charles lkrber (2000), !'or instance, argues that status relations, in generaL arc rundamcntally about the distribution ur attcntion-g.ctting and attcntiun-gi\ ing across the social hierarchy. Those ol' lower status arc C\pccted to gi\ c attcntiun to others. Those or higher status arc C.\pcctcd to demand and rccci\ c the attention ur others. Thus, when either lower-status individuals gi\ c attention or upper-status individuals get altcntion, they conlirm their status. Among our S\1 iss respondents.
1\

c ohscr\ cd that \\omen and men tended to ap-

preciate text messaging l(lr the exact opposite rc,tson. Women liked the li1ct that the:;. could communicate \\ ithout disturbing or grabbing attcntiun, and men liked it because they didn't need to get invohcd in a con\crsation. ('oll\crscl:;., the pcuple \\C encountered who didn't like tcxting stand waiting l(lr an aiJswcr and
\I
1\ CIT

mostly men\\ ho claimed that they couldn't


1\

an!L'd immediate l'ccdback. In other

ords. men's

and \vomcn's attitudes to synchronous or asynchronous channel selection arc good indicators ol'thcir attitud~.:s regarding attention request in their relationships. Similar gcndercd attitudes to texting and calling \1 ere l(lllnd by m:;. students at the [:culc Nationale Supcricurc des Arts Dccoratib (1-:NSAD) in Paris among yuung \\omen !'rom North Africa \\ho were studying in France. The young \\Omen al\\a)s sent tc\ts to their brothers also li\ ing in France and \\ aitcd l(lr the brothers to chuosc the nwmcnt to call them. Sending a text rather than calling\\ as dune nut tu sa\ c money. but because they kit that it \\as up tu their brothers tu decide \\hen they \\ere a\ ai Iable i(Jr a voice com ersation. To conclude. again and again \\C sec that the choice o!' a L'hanncl has little to do with accessibility and price. but rather rctlccts people\ bclicls about the appropriate communication modality l(lr a certain relationship and a certain cunte\t. Attention and power arc two ul'thc many 1:1ctors that arc taken intu accuunt in this process or selection. There arc now sc\ era! approaches that arc engaging
1\

ith this ncl\ cum-

plexity. including \\ork on media ecologies by llorst ct al. (2010) and the analysis o!' al'l()rdanccs by Baym (20 I 0). One or the key points made by l'vladianou and Miller (20 II) that is central to a digital anthropology is that polymcdia is a rcsucializing or

140 /Jig ito! A nlhroj!Oiogr

lj!J!rnoc/7('.\' In l'cnnnul ( 'oll/11/llllicu/ion 1-H

the media. In my studies. the implications of media difference arc nm\ much more closely related to the specifics of the social situation people tlnd themselves in and the nature of their relationships. Moving from a\ailability towards moral responsibility for media choice and a sense of what each media is good or had for in terms of a given relationship leads us from media studies to more evidently anthropological studies.

dat<t (\\ hich tend to flatten out dilfcrcnccs and highlight the generic) and enrich and augment it with the minutiae of the particular. By understanding the \\here. \\hen. \\ ho and \\hat of each communicational C\ cnt. \\ e can understand ho\\ digital media become an integral part of the social experience. By folio\\ ing the c\olution of practices mer time in a longitudinal approach.\\ L' can. as digital anthrnpologists. contribute to the understanding ofthc real social implications ol'digitalmcdia.

Conclusions and Future Directions


The multiplication and diversification of channels is an ongoing process. and we can expect a wide adoption of new media in the next fC\\ years. Most of the media that have emerged recently arc explicitly aimed at communicating with a larger sphere of tics than the intimate set of contacts that has been addressed with e-mail, cell phones. and \oicc channels. Although \\C have argued that. even with social networking sites. most people arc still communicating primarily with a close sphere of contacts. there are clear indications that more and more people arc also addressing themselves. albeit less frequently. to a wider audience and to weaker connections. This raises a variety of questions on how weaker relationships arc maintained and how different social groups present themselves and engage with much less Ji1miliar relations. This in turn shi tis our investigations of the communicational modalities that people choose from when addressing themselves to a less known social sphere: Which channel wi II be deemed most appropriate for self-presentation in different contexts and cultures'! Which modality is required for ditlcrcnt contents and interlocutors and how to speak of othcrs' 1 Just as in the case of intimate and personal communication. anthropology has much to otTer to explain the interaction between digital media and the social norms, agency and practices that emerge in their usage. All of this amounts to an argument li.1r the advancement of digital anthropology it sci L An emphasis upon the social context of media usc--and communication more generally---is best understood in the light of long-term ethnographic observations on the changing patterns of usage in the context of good knowledge about the social relationships that these media arc increasingly integral to. We arc witnessing an exponential increase of a\ ailablc data on users' interactions with digital media with analytics tools that allow us to capture and record the interaction events and the details of individuals' exchanges. This mass of data is, however, otlcn undcrspcciticd, lacking the meaning that these interactions actually have for the individuals who engage in them. This is where an anthropological approach brings a unique value~ it can transf(mn the interactions into relationships. From a methodological point of view, thcrcf(Hc. the challenge 1(Jr digital anthropology is to be able to push the limits of traditional ethnographic investigation to incorporate the quantitative data produced by the \\cb analytics, tclccom log data and traffic

Notes
The Australian study of more than 2.000 people rc\ cakd. for instance. that nearly t\\ o-thirds of' all communications \\ L'rc to l~unil) and liicnds: on!) 12 per cent of' the 13,97X calls made\\ ere \\ork-rclatcd. We tracked the onset of' Internet adoption in France and Italy in a ,;cries tlt' studies \\ ith no\ ices (Broadbent and Cara 2003: Broadbent and Carles 200 I). This dirticulty of negotiating attention may C:\plain \\h) \ oicc calls do not seem to increase O\ cr the years while the number of' tc:\t messages continUL'S to increase exponentially. Trade data tiom CTIA 20 I 0 shm\ that the a\ cragL' length of' mobile calls has diminished mer time. liom just o\ crt\\ o minutL'S to just helm\ two minutes. The International Telecommunication L;nion ( \\'orld Telecommunication 2011) estimated that there \\ere (,.I trillion messages sent 111 20 I 0. compared to I.X trillion in 2007.

_1.

'

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,
144
o

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.lflfJmuc/w.l to !'cnonal ( 'oiii!Jlllniculion

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Kraut, R., W. Schcrlis, T. Mukhoradhyay. .1. Manning and S. Kicsil'r. 1996. The llomcNc! Field Trial of Residential Internet Sen ices. Communication.\ of the ll( '.H39: 55 63. Lave, Land E. Wenger. l9l) I. S'illiulcd !.earning: rcgilimalc l'critJ!wru/ l'urticipation. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Lee, D. 2009. The lmract of Mobile Phones on the Status of Women in India. PhD diss., Stan ford U nivcrsity. httr:l /1nn\ .mohi lcact i1 c.org.'fi lcs 1fi lc. uploads/Mobi lc Phones;\ ndWomcn In lndia.pd f'. Levitt. P. 199X. Social Remittances: Migration Dri1cn l.ocai-Lcvcl Forms of Cuilund DifTusion. lntcnwlionul i\1igmlion R'\icl\' 32(4): 926 4X. Licoppc, C., and /.. Smorcda. 2005. Rhythms and Tics: Tm1ards a Pragmatics of Tee h no Iogi ca II y-mcd iatcd Socia hi Iit y. In /)om est icul i ng Informal ion Technologies, cd. R. Kraut. M. Brynin and S. Kiesler, 911 61. Oxf(ml: Oxf(ml University Press. Ling, R. 2004. The .t!ohile Connection. San Francisco: Morgan Kautinan. Ling, R. 200X. ;\iC\1' Tech Nc11 Tics. Cambridge, Mi\: MIT Press. Ling. R., and S. W. CampbelL cds. 2009. The Rccon\lmclion of.~jmcc and Time: ;\4ohile Communicul ion !'rue/ ices. New BrtillS\\ ick, N.l: Transaction Pub Iishcrs. Madden, M ., and S . .Iones. 200X. :\cl\mrked 11111'kers. The Pew Intcrnct and American Life Project. Scrtcmbcr. www.pcwintcrnct.org. Madianou, M., and D. Miller. 20 II. ivfigrution und Nc11' .Hcdia: Tmnsnationol Families and !'olrmcdiu. London: Routledge. Manccron, Y., B. Lclong and /.. Smorcda. 2002. l.a naissancc du premier enfant. /?(;\CUI/X 20( II 5 ): l) I 121. Mercier. 1'., C. (iournay and/.. Smorcda. 2002. Si loin, si prochcs. Liens ct communications <'1 l'cprcuvc du dcmcnagcmcnt. R(;.\Ci/11\' 20( 115 ): 121 50. Mollo. Y., and P. Falzon. 2004. Auto- and Allo-confrontation as Tools f(Jr Rctlcctivc Activities. /IJ!JIIied 1:'1gonomics 35((1): 531 40. Nardi, B.;\., S. Whittaker and F. l~radncr. 2000. Interaction and Outcraction: Instant Messaging in Action. In l'rocccdings ofthc .}()()() AC:H Con/('rcncc on Computer S'upported Cooperutile Hlll'k, 79 XX. New York: i\CM Press. Nardi, B., S. Whittaker and II. Schwarz. 2002. NctWORKcrs and Their Acti1ity in Intentional Networks . .lou mol of ( 'om;wtcr-.\11/lfi!JI'/ed Cooperutile 11-lll'k II( I 2): 205 42. Nippcrt-Eng, C. 1996. 1/onw ami Work. Chicago: Uni1crsity of Chicago Press. Oil icc ofTommunication (OFCOM ). 20 I 0. ( 'ommunicalions .Harke! Report. 19 August. London. http://w1\ w.of'com.org.uk/. Paragas, F. 2005. Migrant Mobiles: Cellular Telephony. Transnational Spaces and the Filipino Diaspora. In /1 Sense of!'lacc: The Glohal and the l_ocal in .Hohile Communication, cd. K. Nyiri, 241 50. Vienna: Passagcn Verlag. Park. Y.. Ci. M. Hco and R. Lee. 200X. Cy11 orld Is My World: Korean Adult Experiences in an Online Community f(lr Learning. lntemutionul Journal of Wch Bused Communities 4( I): 33.

The Pl.'\\ lntl.'rnd and i\ml.'rican l.ifl' l'rojl'ct. 2000. huckin.!!. Online /.if(> !lm1 fllmwn Csc the lnlcmctlo ( 'ultirulc Rclutiomliip1 II 'ill! 1.-alllilr and Friends. http: pc11 intcrnl'Lorg/Rqlorts 2000/Tracking-Onlinl'-Lik'lvlain-Rl'port Part-l.aspx. Priyanka, M. 20 I 0. Mobiil.' Phonl.' Usagl' by Young Adults in India: ;\ Casl.' Study. PhD diss .. Univnsity of Maryland. Putnam, R. D. 2000. Bmrling :IInne: The Col!up.1c and /?('l'i\ul of .l111cricun Connnunilr. Nc11 York: Simon & Schustl'r. RhcingokL II. 2002. S111ar! .\lohs: The .\'crt Social Rcmlution. ~l'\\ Ynrk: Basic Hooks. Ros. A., and Ci. De La Fuente Vilar. 2011. Through thl' \\'dxam: l~nli\ ian Immigrant Woml'n in Barcelona Communicating\\ ith Their Familil's Bal'k lloml'. In ('onj(rcnce l'mcccdings /)igitul /)iwporus ( 'u111hrii~!.!,C .}()I/. http: \111 '' .crassh.cam. ac.uk/l'\ cnts/ 132X:77. Schiano, D., C. Chen, .1. Ginsberg, lJ. (irl.'tarsdottir. M. lluddkston and F. Isaacs. 2002. Tl'l'n Usl' of Messaging Media. In Frtcnded .lhstruc/.1 o/.1( '.\/ C/11 ::(}(Jl Confi'l'encc on flulllan Factors in COIIIfJ/IIing Snlc/11.\, 594 5. 1\l'\\ York: ACf\-1. Scnnl'lt, R. 199X. The ( 'ormsion of( '/wroc/er: The l'enonol ( 'oii.I<'<JUl'nce.\ of II i11k in the .Vctr Capitalism. Nl'\\' York: W. W. Norton. Spl'ncl'r, E., and R. Pahl. 2006. Rethinking Fricnd1hitJ: !lid/en Solidarities Todor. Princeton, N.J: Princeton Univl.'rsity Prl.'ss. SrrouiL L., and S. Kil'sicr. 1991. Connections: .\'ct\' 11itrs o/11ill'king in the .\'ct\\'orked (hguni:.:ulion. Cambridgl', Mi\: MIT Pt'l'SS. Such man, L. 19X7. Plans and Situated .Jction1: The l'mhlclll of I !tnnan .\!uchine ( 'ollllllllnicalion. Nl'w York: Cambridge Uni1 l'rsity Prl'ss. Turkil.', S. 1995. Uti' on the Screen: ldcnlil\' in the :lgc o(tlw lntcmcl. ~C\\ York: Simon & Sl.'hustl'r. Wallis. C. 200X. Tcchnomohility in the Margins: Mobik Phones and Young Migrant Woml'n in lkijing. Dissertation Abstracts lntnnational. ;\,The Humanitil's and Social Scil.'ncl.'s. ProQul'st lnt(mnation & Ll'arning. World Tckcommunication. 20 II. ICT lndiculors /)utahuse .}()II. I 'ith cd. http: W\\ \\.it u. int/1 TLJ- !Victipu hI ica t ion s/11 orld/11 or Id. html.

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Suciul.\ctll'l!l'king Sites

t-n

-7Social Networking Sites


Daniel Miller

The Particular Significance of Social Networking Sites for Anthropology


The study ol" digital anthropology juxtaposes two terms. Anthmpologr is traditionally associated with the study ol" custom and tradition in small-scale societies rather than with the cutting edge ol" modernity. Then there is the digital, which, by contrast, seems to ratchet up the speed ol" social change and represents the epitome ol" rapid transl(mnation. It is no surprise that social networking sites (SNS), the 1cry latest ol" the major digital media, seem also to have been the l~tstcst in terms of their ability to become a global inl"rastructurc. The first mass usage of SNS \\as probably that ol" Cyworld in Korea in 2005, but the best known is the rise ol" Faccbook from an instrument f(Jr connecting students at llanard Uni1crsity to become. within six years, a site used by hall" a billion people. Faccbook has seen recent growth areas in countries such as Indonesia and Turkey and is heading towards older rather than younger persons. II" the rapidity ol" the development ol" SNS seems antithetical to anthropology, then their substance seems to suggest close a11inity. Aller aiL the very term social net11orking could have been a definition ol"an anthropological perspective as against, i(Jr example, that ol" psychology. Anthropologists rcl"uscd to study persons as mere indi1 iduals. but, as in the study of kinship, an indi1 idual was regarded as a node in a set of relationships, a brother's son or sister's husband, where kinship is understood to be a social network. In contrast to anthropology, sociology was principally concerned with the consequences ol" an assumed decline from this condition as a result ofindustriali;ation, capitalism and urbanism. Still, many oftoday's most intluential books in sociology--such as Putnam\ (200 I) Boll'ling A lone, Sennett's ( 1977) Full of!'uhlic 1Hun and works by (iiddcns, Beck and Bauman remain clearly within this dominant trajectory. In all such work, there is an assumption that older f(mns ol" tight social nell\ orking colloquially characteri;cd by words such as mmmunitr or ncighhourhoud arc increasingly replaced by individualism. Furthermore within sociology there has been an increasing interest in the idea that these individuals arc best understood as networked. So the idea of social networking
146

matched the de\ clopmcnts in theory associated 11 ith ( 'astells. ( iramn ctter and Wellman (though probably not Latour. 1vho uses the idea of a nc111 ork !i.1r the rather diflcrcnt purpose of incorporating nonhuman agency). Caste lis made dramatic claims about the rise of the Internet and hm1 our societies arc increasingly structured around a bipolar opposition hell\ ccnthc Net and thc Self' (I l)l)(l: J ). 01 cr three 1olumcs. Castclls (2000) presented what he termed the ncti\Ork society. though the main !(Jcus was on presumed linkages hct\\Ccn Ill'\\ int(mnation technologies and new f(mns of political economy. gm crnancc. pm1 l'l' and globali;ation. ( 'oming alkr the f~1shion f()r postmodcrnism in academic theory. these dc1 clopmcnls in net11 orking were seen as further extensions of an assumed indi1 idualism and t'ragmcnlation in modern li !c. The theorist who has done the most to keep open the dialogue hell\ L'L'n online and offline li.m11S or sociality has been Barry Wellman (Boase and Wellman 2006 ). In his case, it is location-based nell\ orking such as neighbourhoods and community that have been. in some measure. replaced by Internet-based ncll\orking. Research suggested that online ne111orking may f()ster a rcnc11al of some degree or otllinc sociality in new residential settlements (I Iampton and Wellman 200.\ ). A further influence I\ as the \\ork of(iranovctter (I l)]J). \\ ho suggested that sometimes people's \\Caker and more distant tics could he highly significant not just their immediate. strong tics. This seemed important f()r Internet communities 11 hich \\ere olicn partial and transitory. Post ill (200X) pn11 ides an anthropological critique of this 11 ork (sec also \\'oolgar 2002), urging caution in using the older tcrminology ol' community and neighbourhood, but also noting the increasing !Ctishism or the term lh'tl\'OI'k arising from this new sociological subdiscipline of social net11ork analysis. Instead (as in this IOIumc). he fa1ourcd a more nuanced and conlc~tuali;cd ethnography of the many different social fields in which people engage on- I(H c.\ampk short-term acti1 istrclatcd political collccti1cs that emerged !'rom his lickh1ork in a Malaysian suburb. This \il'll was supported hy Miller and Slater (2000), 11ho had critici;cd Castclls but also argued that Internet-based networks \\ere too dispersed and partial to equate with these older f(mns or sociality. The premise of this chapter. hm\ c\ cr. is that SNS correspoml neither ln the sociological 11ork oi'Castclls and Wellman on ndl\orks nor to the critiques ofPostiiL Miller and Slater. Rather, SNS ha1c turned out to he something much closer to older traditions ol' anthropological study of social relations such as kinship studies. The critical points made by Post ilL Miller and Slater f()IIOI\ cd c1 idcncc that Internet networks tended to be specialist and partiaL associated 11 ith specific interests. By contrast, SNS arc in sc\cntl important respects. quite the opposite ol' the earlier Internet. On Faccbook, peer-to-peer tiicndships 11 nc joined by l~tmily and kin-based networks and, in some cases, also sm1 the dissolution of the distinctions between home and 11ork (Broadbent 20 I I), thereby bringing together in one place \1 hat had been separate ndl\orks. As such. SNS challenge the li111damcnlal premise

148 /)igiwl l1ntlirotJologr

Suciul .\ctllurking Sites 149

that scraraks sociology fimn anthmrology: that the O\crlapping social relationships that were foundational to anthropological study inc\ itably decline towards the more separated-out networks that arc central to sociology. ;\similar rrohlcm arises with the idea ofncl\\orkcd indi\ idualism as I(Jstcn:d by Castclls and Wellman. To preempt my second case study on usage by migrants. a recent article by McKay (2011) dcmonstraks the ll<ms in such arguments. McKay has been working for many years with rcople fimn the northern Philippines and'' ith their dispersed migrantl~unilics. She noks how those who remain in the Philippines olkn juxtapose their presentation of themselves on SNS with old black-and-\\ hitc historical photographs of kin. In addition. they usc photographs of old buildings from the local town or iconic photographs from collections made about the Philippines in older times. They recognize that when a l~unily member in the diaspora comes tu their site. they have to represent not just an autonomous individual, but a nmk \\ ithin an extended and ancestral l~unily and site. McKay thcoriz.cs that these extensions. usin!.'. the'' ork of Strathcrn ( 199(J) and Melanesian concepts of personhood, arc premise:! on entirely dilll:rcnt concepts of the person fimn the indi\ idualism presumed by Wellman. From this evidence we may construct a larger argument. Instead of lixusing on SNS as the vanguard of the nc\\, and the rapidity of its global reach. it may well he that SNS an: so quickly accepted in places as such a.s Indonesia and Turkey because their main impacl is to redress some or the isolating and individualizing impacts or other new kchnologics and allow pcopk to return to certain kinds of intense and interwoven f(mns of social relationship that they otherwise ll:ared \\ere being lost. SNS have. then. an extraordinary ability to return the\\ orld to the kinds of sociality that were the topic of traditional anthropological concern and, as such. arc hugely important to contemporary anthropology and the future of the discipline. ;\s suggested in the introduction to this\ olumc, we have most to learn timn the nonnativity quickly imposed upon these kchnologics.

up as the main SNS or BraziL and a dating site SUL'h as Fricndstcr could e\ ol\ c into a \cry difkrent genre that dominated SNS usage in South Last Asia. At least initialh mo\cmcnt \\as rapid between SNS. most conspicuously in the rise and dcclinL' ,~r MySpacc. \\hose impact \\as less on sociality per sc than on nc\\ \\ ay so r d iSSL'Ill inating music to nws.s audicncc.s. Cy\Hlrld \\as alrL'ad_y almost ubiquitous amongst South Korean youth by 2005 and remains dominant there. So the triumph or Facchook may not rclkct any particular superior functionalitv, hut mcrch the m em hclmino desire of C\ cryonc to be on the same site combincti \\ ith ~~ uni~LIL' ability tn sprca~ through emulation. Just as lJS colleges took to Faccbook 111 emuL1tion of its ori!.'.ins at Harvard. so 1 could obscn c. O\ cr the course of 200') to 20 I 0. hm\ Facchook t:Hlk 0\Cr fiom l"ricndster in the Philippines, principally based on the prestige or carl\ adoption in key Manila uni\ crsities. . Recent anthropological work. including that of ho_HL I leather llorst and Mimi Ito (Ito ct al. 2010). looks at more gcnnalusc \\ithin liicndship circles oftccna!.'.crs in the United States. while (icrslwn (20 10) has documented the importance :Jr Facebook in relationship breakup amongst US stutknts. All such \\ ork contributes to \\hat has probably become the single most sustained discw;sion or the implications ofSNS. which \\as predicted in the title of boyd\ (200~) article. 'Faccbook's l'ri\ acy Trainwrcck .The argument \\as that the ideology behind FacchooJ... ,, here the dcl~llllt \\as complete openness. had led users into~~ le\ el of public e.'l.posurL' that \\as both unintended and could hm c quite problematic consequences (cspccialh t(Jr children: sec Li\ ingstonc 200~. 2009). ()ucstions arose as to \\ hethcr indi\ id~1als' relationships could be threatened by the c\ idcncc of\\ ho else they spent time\\ it h. or whether hm ing fun misbcha\ ing at a party could result in being refused a job. as employers inspected applicants' Faccbook pages. The ultimate threat ,, as ;he exposure of children to sexual predation. ;\s anthropologJsts ha\ c noted. SNS simply do not correspond to more traditional oppositions hL't\\L'L'Il a publiL sphere and the pri\ate (boyd 2007: Gershon 2010). Rather. SNS such as Faccbook tend to reflect an aggregate of an indi\ idual's private spheres, the pre\ iouslv d\adic contact \\ ith each Jiicnd or rdati\c co-present in the same space. This is ;wt.at all the same as broadcasting to a more general public, though the latter may hL' l(lsk'rL'll in the morL' journalistic style ofT\\ ittcr. There is a singularly important trajectory from the '' ork or anthropologists ,, ho arc I(Jcuscd on issues ofprivacy and exposure in pri\atc and intimate lite to the 111 _ creasing concern with the same conundrum about exposure and pri\ acy in respect to politics. The point is evident in the contrast het\\ CL'Il l\\ o rL'Ccnt high-profile boob about SNS. The Fucchook Ffkct (Kirkpatrick 20 I 0) starts\\ ith a storv about hm\ a Face book site became the catalyst I(Jr a popular lllO\ L'lllcnt in ( 'oloml;ia. mohilizin!.'. ten million people in street dcmonstratiuns. \\hich curbed the\ inlencc and kidnap~ ping by the Fucrzas Armadas Rn olucionarias de Colnmbia (or Rc\ nlutionarv ArmLd Forces or Colombia) guerrilla mo\ ClllCill. By contrast. Morozo\ (20 11). in. The .\ct Delusion suggests that the claims made I(Jr T\\ ittcr and FacL'book in t;lcilitating the

Studies of SNS
The first attempt to create a more systematic engagement with SNS was probably that ofdanah boyd building on her initial thesis \\ork on platli.mns such as Fricndstcr. ller review (boyd and Ulison 2007) or the history and range of SNS has become even more important now that journalistic treatments (and the influential film The Social Netll'ork) seem to be simplifying that history as though there was some inevitable trajectory that led towards the current dominance or Faccbook, based on the particular personality and vision or Mark Zuckcrbcrg. By contrast. boyd shows that Faccbook arose alongside a whole slew ofSNS and that much of\\ hat subsequently developed was more happenstance than intention. SNS could migrate quickly fimn their intended base and their intended ![met ion. So a US site such as Orkut could end

r
150 /Jigilol ;117/hmpo/og\'
Social .\cl\rorking Si!n 151

()rccn protests in Iran \\ere\\ ildly exaggerated. llc suggests that there is rather more evidence that these media represent documentation that can he used hy repressive regimes !'or locating and suppressing dissent (sec l'ostiiL this volume). Similar issues arise on the development side ol'anthropological work,\\ here SNS hav c hccn instrumental in rclicl' cllorts ranging !'rom typhoons in the Philippines to earthquakes in f Iaiti--hut, again, we lack the ethnographic evidence to properly assess such claims.

Case One: The Comparative Anthropology of SNS


One would expect that a major part ol' any anthropological contribution to the study ol' SNS would he that of cultural relativism, hascd on the assumption that dil'l'crcnt regions gradually appropriate SNS through processes ol' locali/ation to emerge as specific to the cultural concerns ol' that region. ;\ classic argument ol' that kind, though not strictly related to SNS, was Humphrey's (2009) study ol' Russian chat rooms. She notes how many users v icvv their avatars and other aspects ol'thcir online presence in a singularly Russian manner. ;\s one ol'hcr inl'urmants puts it, 'The tl1'U/ur is not designed to demonstrate the person's !~ICc. It should convey the inner state ol'thc person, his souL one might say, or the condition ol'his soul' (40--1 ). The analogy, f~uniliar li01n Russian literature, is that ordinary lire is a suppression ol'thc true inner hcing ol'thc person. which lies deep in the soul and vv hich is both profound and expressive. Viewing these avatars as somchmv closer to that inner being and capable ol'thc more direct expression ofpowcrl'ul emotions suggests that online activity accords with what has been taken as quintessentially Russian (compare Miller 2011:
40 52, on the idea ol' htcchook as the book or truth).

;\s alrcadv noted, notwithstanding all the current attention to Facchook, the first significant c:tablishmcnt oi'SNS was Cyvvorld which was ubiquitous <Imongsl South Korea youth by 2005. Studies by lljorth (20()l), 2010) and others (e.g. ()iu 2009) suggest that many l'caturcs ol' this and other Last ;\sian SNS closely rc1kct the underlying cultural priorities of those regions. For example, in Cyvvorld, one's fiicnds and contacts arc subject to a series of circles liom the closest to the most distant. This seems to he modelled on the same idea of concentric circles as defined within Korean kinship. Fast ;\sian sites also tend to usc a genre ol' the 'cute', which is seen as a kind of warm domestication ol' V\ hat otherwise might be experienced as the colder edge ol' new technologies. SNS such as()() in China shmv more concern with the development ol' an av alar than the mere representation of the user and have tighter integration of gaming. Far more money tends to be spent on the interior d~coration'Lofsuch sites, all of which suggests that there arc clements which may be distinctly regional. ;\Iter using anthropological rclativ ism to establish regional diiTcrcncc, V\C arc then in a position to engage in the comparative am:lysis oi'SNS. The potential is evident in the work oi'Stcl~ma Broadbent (201 L also this volume). V\ho has developed

the concept ol' attention. Synchronous communication such as instant messaging or phone calls demand immediate attention tiom one\ corrcspolllknt. and this claim to attention raises \arious issues of pm\cr and control. lh contrast, Facchook is one ol' the least engaging and demanding channels. !king a semipublic acL a pusting is not to anyone in particular and so doesn't require or demand the attention of any other particular correspondent. The significance of l~ruadhcnt\; point becomes much clearer through her comparison of Faccbook and ('yv\orld. I fin ('yvvorld you agree to be a ('y-ikhon-- a very close relation-- then you arc socially bound b\ cxpcL"Iations of immediate reciprocity to comment on each othn. ~1ost people hav c kv\ cr than tvv cnty ( 'y-ilehons. So Cyworld comes V\ ith the demands l(lr attention and the burdens of intense sociality that arc V\ hat make media such as e-mail and instant messaging ll:cl a hit like work, C\ en \\hen they arc used l(lr leisure communicatiOn. This is in clear contrast to Facchook. This stage of comparativ c studies is based on noting the di ITcrcnccs bctvv ccn regions with respect to their particular dominant SNS. But the possibility of making such comparisons might seem negated by the rise of Facchook at the c\pcnsc of all other altcrnati\L" SNS. Once 1-'accbook becomes globally ubiquitous. then the only V\ay we can retain the insights of comparison is by I(Jcusing instead upon the regional di ITcrcnccs of the usc of Faccbook. So, l(lr c\amplc, v\ c can st iII address Bwadhcnt \ issue of attention by noting that. in the Philippines, there seems to be much more pressure to respond to postings by friends than there is in the llnitcd Kingdom. ;\t the same time, there arc dangers in any claim to locali/cd dillcrcncc. Fm example scv era! commentators have suggested that Faccbook is some kind of emanation or rcftcction of the ncolibcralism of the contemporary t:s political economy. and that Ilappy Farm, the most popular SNS-rclatcd game in China. diiTcrs !'rom the Faccbook equivalent, Farmville, because stealing crops is an integral clement in the l(mncr but not the latter. The presence of stealing is claimed to slwvv the amhiv alencc !Cit in China towards capitalism as represented in the game. But it V\ ottld be _just as easy to argue that China today is L1r less ambiv aknt about capitalism than most other regions. Arguments about comparison and regional localism need to bL based on more sustained analysis ofv,idcr contc\ts of usage rather than glib assertions that SNS must embody the entire political economy of their umtc.\1. In our earlier study ol'thc Internet in Trinidad (Miller and Slater 2000). vv c argued 1(Jr a larger dialectical analysis. Most studies at that time understood their hricl' as documenting processes of globali/ation and locali/.ation. So they might have v\ rittcn an account of what happens to the Internet vvhcn it becomes appropriated by Trinidadians. But V\ c argued that there simply was no such thing as //7, lnh'l'll<'l per sc. Rather, the Internet was that v\hich people engaged in online in soniC particular place. We should not privilege US or UK usage as !he ln!emc/, vvhich could bL' equally exemplified by each and c\cry place. With respect to any given region, vvc could only document V\ hat the Internet is through its usc hy Trinidadians. or V\ hat Trinidadians had become thanks to the Internet. ;\ similar argument is implied by

152 !Jigitol Anthrol){}log\

Sociul_\('/ll'l!l"king Sire.\ 153

the very \\ay Trinidadians talk about Facchook. ()uite olicn the site is rclcrrcd to as either Fa1/wok or /'vlacohook. In Trinidadian dialect, to he fc/.1 is to try and get to knm1 another person rather too quickly. as compared to the accepted etiquette. To he moco is to he nosy. constantly prying into other people's private business. Since both of these terms arc seen as particularly characteristic of Trinidadian behaviour, there seems to be a natural allinity between the propensity 11 ithin the inliastrudurc oi'Faccbook itself and the cultural inclination oi'Trinidadians. A kading historian of Trinidad told nJC a story about ho11, 11 hen the Caribbean islands \\ere considering coming together in a united political entity in the late 1950s, they decided against making the Trinidadian capital of l'ort of Spain the base for the new kdcration for !Car or the disrupti \C cfkct 0 r the Trinidadian lo\ c or rum our and gossip. So this idea that Trinidadians arc naturally /i1s and maco is nothing nc11. In a prc1 ious 11ork (Milkr 1992). I argued that the word hacclwnul is perhaps the most common expression or what people ICc! it means to be distinctly Trinidadian and that this had been previously expressed through an allachmcntlo an imported US soap opera, The Young and the Restless. Bacchanal in turn relics upon the central role of sex in Trinidad as an expression ofthc truth about 11hat humans in the end really arc, and what they will inevitably end up doing despite themselves. Gender itscl r is constituted by a basic exchange relationship bcl11 1.:cn sex and labour. Women, for example, arc sceptical or l(mn<tl marriage since their husbands may then take sex li1r granted, rather than it being dependent on men continuing to work on behalf of the 11 ider hunily (Miller 1994: 16X 20 I ). All these concepts gain their most explicit expression in the annualkstival of CarnivaL which celebrates the 1alucs ofbacchanal. In these studies I was allcmpting to map out the cot-e values ofTrinicladian lite, often in contrast with other values such as respectability and religious ideals promulgated within Pentecostalism. In Tolcsfiwn Fon'hook (Miller 20 II), I examine in detail the degree to which Face hook is no11 'icwcd as expressive of these core Trini values. There arc many examples within that book which demonstrate \\ hy it ICc Is as though Faccbook was predestined I(H Trinidad. notwithstanding its origins at Ilarvard University. For example the way Faccbook's technology of tagging photographs of people seen in public leads to the exposure of individuals in the company of the wrong people is one of the main sources I(Jr the eruption of bacchanal in contemporary Trinidad. The first of the portraits in lidcsfiwn Face hook is of a marriage breaking down because of Faccbook. This occurs not because of 11 hat the husband thinks people in general do with Faccbook, but because of11 hat his wi IC can't help but do: as a typical mocotious Trini, she constantly looks into the pri1atc world of every woman her husband has any contact with on 1-accbook. It is less dear\\ hcther the l~1ct that the verb 'to friend' already existed in Trinidad and traditionally meant 'to ha1c sex with" has a bearing on such cases. When a person I call Vishala says that the truth of another person is more likely to be l(ntnd in his or her Faccbook profile than through meeting the person l~lcc-to-lilcc, this again implies a very Trinidadian concept of truth and

authenticity as li.ntnd in appearance as opposed to the deception\\ hich is li.n111d deep 11 ithin a person. Similarly, when the businessman Burton argues that. to understand Faccbook, you need first to appreciate hm1 people arc thcmsch cs social nct11 orking sites. he liamcs this by 11 hat he regards as the particular 11 a~ Trinis engage in business as opposed to business practices he \\ itncsscd \\ orking abroad. L\ en the particular Trinidadian 1 crsion or l'cntecostal and Apostolic churches manages to find \\ ays to express their spcci lie \a lues and ideals through 1-accbook. Indeed. the 11 hole experience or using Face book may be described using the lcrm liming.'' hich is IHm Trinidadians understand their particular mode or sociali;ing. Originally associated 11 ith strcct-corncr li IC and hanging out 11 ith others. liming has gradually broadened in connotation to a more general hanging out. But its significance here is that it is used to render Faccbook once more as a specifically Trinidadian practice rather than as an imported intiastructurc. These arguments arc crucial to contemporary anthropology. Ir the globali;ation of drinks such as Coca-Cola, or of digital instruments such as Faccbook. indicate only global homogenization, then this implies a decline in cultural diversity and specificity---the core concerns or anthropological in\ cstigation. Hm1 c1 cr, if these imported products become subject to processes that make their regional appropriation distinctive, then they can become the source of nc\\ li.mns or cultural divcrsit~. ICas I ha1 e argued above, they only C\ cr exist in respect to the specific cultural practices of some particular population. then there is really nodi lkrcncc li01n traditional anthropological apprehensions or cultural diversity. So anthropology is sho11 ing some self-interest here. It becomes a more rcle1 ant and necessary discipline to the degree that Faccbook is transl(mncd into Fu.1hook. Though to take this one stage further, the point is not that Faccbook is localized so much as that Fashook is in1 cntcd by Trinidadians at the same time as Trinidadians arc diakctically changed through their usc ofFashook. For the anthropologist. there is no such thing as Facchook: there is only the aggregate or its particular usages by specific populations. The rclati1 tsm or anthropology pertains. then, not just to the dilkrcnccs bct\\CCn Orkut. Tl\ iller, ()(), Facebook and Cyworld: it is also the heterogeneity of each SNS as made C\ idcnt from what we may hope will soon be multiple cthnographic encounters.

Case Two: The Use of SNS by Migrants


The importance of the Intcrnctli.lr migrant populations 11ho arc separated timnthcir l~un iIics has been clear li.Jr some 1ime (e.g. llorst and Panagakos 2006 ). It is not surprising that this importance has extended to SNS li.Jr their ability to unite diaspora populations and l~lcilitatc their connections 11 ith their homeland. An example is prm idcd by Oostcrbaan (20 I Oa. 20 I Ob ), who studied the \\ ay in \\ hich Orkut has quickly established it sci f as a major point or rclcrcncc and organization ti.Jr the diaspora Bnvilian populations of lurope, olkn based around \ irtual groups associated

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with particular cities such as Barcelona and ;\mstndam. Similarly in Shcn/.hcn. perhaps the world\ l~1stcst-growing modern city. QC) is being used hy migrant taxi drivers to bring together the new local social networks based around work with their originally kin-based networks. QQ is seen as more personal and less instrumental than telephone calls hack to one's place of origin (Wei and Qian 2009: X 19). Other studies in ( 'hina note how internal migrants also chat to strangers as another pool of sociality (Qiu 2009: 99), with mobile ()() of'tcn dominating for reasons of cost (Cheng 20 II). In most regions, SNS arc generally used by migrants as part of a constellation of media. For cx<lmplc the Polish migrants in Ireland studied hy Komito and Bates (2009) mainly usc the l'olish-hascd SNS Nas/a-Kiasa in a relatively passive manner simply to keep up to date with other Poles and usc other media for more active social engagement. lktwccn 200X and 20 I 0, I carried out a research project with Mirca Madianou on Filipina migrant mothers and their !cit-behind children (Madianou and Miller 2011 ). Much of our research was conducted in the United Kingdom, hut \\C also travelled to the Philippines to meet the children of the women we had worked\\ it h. At that time. the most common social networking sites we encountered in the Philippines were Fricndstcr, Facchook and Multiply. SNS arc used alongside other media in retaining connections---for example when someone finds that many of his or her school friends have now emigrated li1r work. Sometimes one SNS is used li1r maintaining formal l~1mily connections (including posting photographs of l~11nily events such as births and weddings), while another SNS is used for inlimnal postings. Many of the older women in the United Kingdom learned to usc such sites mainly for communicating with kin. In the Philippines, as elsewhere, a pivotal moment in the translimnation of SNS was when individuals started to receive friends requests from their mothers. This signalled a movement fiom college or peer linkages to the incorporation of core kinship networks. Some of these linkages were experienced as highly positive encounters such as when children f'clt that this combination of distance and intimacy allowed them to achieve a more adult relationship with their parents. Their physical separation combined with easy communication had provided just the right degree of autonomy to l~1cilitatc this change in their relationship. In another case, howe\ cr. a left-behind child found his idealized imagination of his mother shattered when he gained access to her Fricndstcr account and saw the kinds of party pictures that women commonly post on SNS. SNS can also lead to closer surveillance li1r example over the usc of remittances, meeting chi ldrcn \ boyfriends and girl tiicnds and compensating for absence by imposing high degrees of control on !cit-behind children. The importance of this research is that it challenges the simple idea that migration leads to a loss of communication in relationships that is then repaired by the advent of new media. What we encountered was more complex and ambivalent. with at least some of the children claiming that the case of communication with their mothers that came ti01n new media made their lives worse rather than better. Some of these

children f'clt an overuse of such sites for suncillancc. And some children l'cltthatthc increased media contact exposed the inability of absent parents to relate to them as they grc\\ and changed c\ idcnt, li1r example, in the \\ay that parents still sent them presents more suited to younger children. In the Philippines. SNS arc also the main places for blogging, and issues arose when children bloggcd their pri\ ate anxieties and resentments with regard to their absent parents (sec also Rettberg 200X: 77 XO). In some cases, the highly public nature of posting led the entire diasporic ntcndcd l~1111ily to ackmm ledge disputes that othcm isc \\ ould h<l\ c been managed more privately. We also lilllnd that, while the etiquette was to accept allfiicnd requests in the Philippines. usage in the United Kingdom sometimes rctlcctcd gnming class di\ isions. for example bet\\ ccn nurses and domestic \\ orkcrs (compare llargittai 2007). McKay's (20 II) work on the usc of Faccbook amongst Filipino migrants in London n:inforccs this\ iew of the ambiguous and sometimes ncgati\ c consequences of SNS li1r migrants. She also brings us hack to issues of politics and pri\ acy and the way these connect the intimate with \\ idcr politics. These migrants mainly usc Face book so that they can Iilii ow each other's socialli\ cs in detail- \\here someone has visited, what they\\ ore, who they \\ere\\ ith and so li1rth. Mostly they he long to the same church network, which itself runs a Facebook group, and they enthusiastically examine photos fimn church C\ cnts. Most of the photographs posted arc typically domestic and quotidian. This is a population whose origin is in a northern rural area where close kinship, ritual and trust arc retained as aspects of community. and these f'eatures ofsociallif'c arc exported to the new London environment. But as I have argued \\ith respect to the Trinidadian study (Miller 2011 ). real communities ha\c always been subject to contradictory forces. including petty jealousies, long-term quarrels and exclusions. Most of these migrants arc illegaL and at the extreme there is a constant fear that internal quarrels might lead to one person reporting another to the police,\\ ith subsequent deportation. The problem is that they find it impossible to limit this Face hook openness. fill reasons that McKay (following Strathcrn 1996) argues arc intrinsic to the '' ay kinship and reciprocity tends to work within bilateral systems of kinship. So Facchook can exacerbate quarrels and tensions. leading to people being cropped out of photographs or accused of\\ itchcrali. all of\\ hich activity is as much tilllowcd by those \\ho remain in the villages in the Philippines as those \\ho arc based now in London. In short. Faccbook tends to up the ante on the critical tension between trust and risk that is bound to arise for a migrant community in a situation of semilegal status in a liJrcign land. So instead of distancing them fiom traditional contradictions of community, it makes these community-like aspects of social life even more intense. The initial literature on migration naturally I(Jcuses upon the use of SNS to recover and maintain links with the homeland. But it is also possible to take a more radical view of where SNS might lead in the future. Instead of regarding SNS as simply a means to communication between two gi\ en localities, it is also possible

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to start thinking about SNS as places in \\hich people in some sense actually li\t:. A Filipina worker in London whom I know well makes no usc any or th.: local facilities. never going out to pubs or to watch tilms. Apart from working. sleeping and eating in London. she spends her time on SNS in the company ot' tiicnds and kin. In Tulcsjiw11 Fucchook (Miller 2011 ). we lind the story of Dr. Karamath. who is disabled and so never steps out or his house in Trinidad. lie lives as much as possible within Faccbook. where he 'works aggrcgat ing acti\ ist information on human rights and 'socializes" with a group ot' friends t'rom the South Asian diaspora. It makes more sense to sec such indi\iduals as living inside the SNS rather than in the physical location in which they sleep and cal. Viewing Facchook more as a kind ot' home than as a type or communication hetween homes helps make sense or one or th.: key ways in which people usc SNS: as a site t'or 'interior decoration'. It helps c:-;plain hmv people tidy. decorate and adorn their sites. As Horst has shown. it may be quite hard to distinguish between a US teenager decorating her bedroom and decorating her MySpacc site. The teen may even deliberately choose a common colour scheme for both (Horst 200lJ). In Trinidad. much or the time spent on Faccbook is in uploading photographs or links that effectively create a personal acsthclic. Indeed. the term interior decoration makes for a convenient pun. since it is C\cn more cv idcnt on Facchook than in room decoration that what is emerging in the public space is a sense or the interior -that is the private space or the indi\idual cxtcrnalizccl onto this digital domain. This seems still more appropriate when we sec that many ofthc c:-;changcs taking place arc trivial. inconsequential items about the day's events that arc more like the communication between people who arc co-present in the same home. So one ironic ctkct or the increasing transnational ism and cosmopolitanism ot' migration is that SNS are also in the \anguard or creating a new form or domesticity. where such sites arc emerging as places within which migrants could be said to live rather than being merely technologies of communication. This linkage with the domestic is the subject or llorst"s chapter within this volume.

Future Studies
This chapter has I(Kuscd narrmv ly on SNS. hut in the t'uturc it is likely that studies or specific digital media will have to consider the wider context ot' polymedia. J>ofvmcdia is a term developed by Madianou and myself to reflect a critical transformation in digital communicative media more generally (sec also Baym 20 I 0). Polymcdia follows \\here a population has paid l(lr computer usage or a smartphonc. This means that they have access to up to a dozen di t"fercnt ways or communicating and that the cost or an individual ad of communication lies in the background expense ot' the inrrastructurc rather than the actual act or communication. Under such circumstances. it is harder to assert that the reason ror picking this or that media was

on.: or either cost or access. Rath.:r. a person is held responsible ror \\ hich media he or she chooses to usc. ( icrslwn ( 20 I 0) sllll\\ s that ''hen boy rricnds and girl tiicnds arc dumped. th.: k.:y question may be wh:-. they chose to do this by phone or tc:-;t or e-mail or Faccbook and what that says about the person. Madianou and Mil In (20 II) argue that this attribution or moral responsibility in ctlcct rcsoc1ali/cs media usc in gcn.:ral. as we mo\ c timn technological considerations to the IlL"\\ normati\ itics that c:-;ist in any given society around the m.:aning or any particular media. At th.: same time that \\C may contc:-;tuali/C SNS as one or man: altcmati\c media that art: being used. w.: also set: that SNS hm c thcmsch cs been transformed into instrum.:nts ot"polymcdia. as they allo\\ people to usc instant messaging or other rorms of messaging within th.: SNS site. Similarly. SNS arc currently migrating tiom computer to smartphon.:. incr.:asing the sense that SNS arc always-on media '' hich can he checked incessantly. In conclusion. one future direction ot"study is likely to be the subsuming or SNS within researching polymcdia more generally. A similar issue to that ot"polymcdia is an increasing appreciation ot"IHm SNS c:-;pand in th.:ir conn.:ctivity with many other topics \\ithin this' olumc. For .::-;ample. to take Malahy\ contribution. SNS may become linked to games such as World or Warcrati (e.g. (iolub 20 I 0). More than that. they may represent a fundamental change in gaming culture itself. Today the most important online games in global terms may ha\c become those that arc actually cmh.:ddcd \\ithin SNS such as Facchook and QQ. Hjorth (20 I 0) points out that llappy Farm and Fanm ille look nothing like the teenage ''mid ot" traditional hardcor.: gaming such as llalo and World of \Varcrati. Happy Farm and Fanm ille arc more likely to he dominated by an entirely dit"t"crcnt demographic. such as older\\ omen. Other gnm ing links arL' \\ ith You Tube. \\ llLTC the t"ollm\ing ot" sites can lead to the dc\clopmcnt of particular nd\\Orks (Lange 2007) and the cntir.: spectrum or digital media discuss.:d in this\ olumc. Although some SNS such as Facchook art: increasingly seen as global in scope. there has also been a proliferation or more specialist and targeted SNS that pertain to more particular anthropological studies. such as the cldnly or\ arious subcultures or sexual orientation or music ( Baym 2007: Madden 20 I 0). 1:or c.:-;ample ga) men in the Philippines tend to retain links to SNS specifically associat.:d \\ ith that subculture while maintaining other links to t~unily and others in Fricndstcr and Faccbook. Detailed study or such usage helps dcpos.: common stereotypes. In Australia. not only doth.: elderly usc the lntcmcL but a st:\cnty-ycar-old may be quicker at turning such contacts into direct s.::-;ual acti\ity than the young (:\1alta and Farquharson 20 I 0). So the study or dominant and global SNS needs to be complemented by the continued importance of' more specialist SNS. We arc also likely to sec more specialist anthropological analysis. for c:-;ample c:-;ploiting the cv ide nee or such tc:-;tualmaterial t'or work in anthropological linguistics (e.g. Jones and Schicrtlin 200l); Jones. Schidllin and Smith 2011 ). Anthropology is a discipline that balances its concern l(lr the particular\\ ith more uni\ crsal ambitions. In the last sed ions or Tu!c.1jiwn Focchook ( M illcr 20 II ). I indicated

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ISS !Jigitul AnthmJIOiogr
th.: pot.:ntial l(n a much \\ id.:r anthropological.:ngagcmcnt with Sl\iS. c.,ploring issues of cosmology and theory. In studying Facchook. it is soon apparent that the site c:-;hihits a surplus communicative economy in that people seem to do all sorts of things\\ ith it that ar.: hard to reduce to some simply communicative need or any oth.:r l(mn of instrumentalism. ;\tone stage. I turn the usual logic around and ask\\ hcthcr. instead of seeing: Facchook as a means to [Jcilitatc friendships between people, many of us usc liicndships bcl\\ccn people to I~ICilitatc a relationship to Faccbook its.:IL SNS could be then seen as a meta best liicnd who \\C could turn to \\hen no one else wanted to be socially engaged \\ ith us, such as in the early morning when we 1\:cl lon.:ly and arc unable to sleep. This accounts for some but not all oft h.: obscrv able surplus communicati\ c economy. It still doesn't e:-;plain the large number ofSNS friends who arc not part of any active SNS interaction or the more recent trend at least in Trinidad to post quite revealing material that may not place the user in the most llattcring light. Social networks also seem to generate their own compulsion to\ isibility. Just as people don't ICc\ they arc actually on holiday unless they sec photographs of themselves enjoying that hoi iday, so today some people don't seem to ICc I they have had an c:-;pcriencc of an event unless they have broadcast it through Fac.:book or Twitter. In Tul!'sfmm Focchonk, I speculate about a cosmological aspect to SNS in which it acts as a point of 'witnessing'\\ hich allows us to view ourselves as moral beings whose actions arc alv. ays subject to adjudication something that traditionally we might have ascribed to the g:<Ul: of the di\ inc but here is rendered as a generic other consisting: of that wide canopy or SNS friends beyond those we actually communicate with. In short it suggests that SNS arc also a l\m11 of mond encompassment that gi\ cs them a cosmological signilicancc. The implication of such arguments is to bring: SNS back to the t.:rrain of anthropological theory and the \\ ider ambitions of anthropology as a discipline for understanding the fundamental nature of society and culture. This is also the reason why l(tfcs fiwn Fucl'l)()ok ends with a detailed analogy dra\\ n bctv\ ccn the study of the Kula ring and that of S NS. The argument is that. at least l\1r M unn ( 19S6) in her book The Fume of (imru, Kula sen cd as emblematic of culture, because it \\as an instrument for what she calls 'intcrsubjcctive spacetime': the scale of the world within which people can live and gain l~unc. There arc positi\e transformations that c:-;pand this spacetime and ncgati\c transformations that shrink it. My proposition is that Fac.:book acts to replace the immediate consumption or conv.:rsation, just as Ciavva I(Jrbids the immediate consumption or produce. These con\crsations must first be sent out into wider spheres, where they create an c:-;pansion of spacetime. \\ ith a much greater range or p.:ople in\ olvcd in that communication. But the same instruments that assist in this expansion of space! imc also retain the potential for destroying and diminishing spacetime, such as bachannal in Trinidad or witchcrall in tiawa. These also operate as an important sanction which ~ccur.:s normative and moral usage oiTaccbook or Kula. So culture itself can gnl\\ or it can shrink, and Faccbook is analogous to Kula as an instrument for this gnl\\ th and contraction. At this level,
Social \cllt!lrking .'litc.1 159

..,

The sheer ubiquity or SNS means that they arc like\: to become an aspect or almost any area or anthropological study in the future fromLconomic lll'c: and rL'llgion to de\ clopmcnt studies and medical anthropolo!!\. But the rL'ason !(Jr I(Jcusin!! '. ' so tightly upon SNS \\ ithin the more general realm or digital ~lllthropnlog: is that SNS possess qualities that seem to h<l\ c a particular allinity \1 ith the discipline or anthropology itself. If my argument is correct. then the importance or S;\iS i~ not the unprecedented bra\ c llC\\ world they open up. but their inherent conscn at ism. \1 hich helps to bring back the inlcnsc social relationships and the intcrLonncl'lcdncss bct\vccn \vhat had become separated-out liclds of sociality. Throughout this chapter I ha\c argued that it is notjust that anthropologists can study SNS, it is that SNS may be bringing: the\\ orld back closer to the premises or anthropological research.

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Millcr. D. I 994 . .\fodcmitr: An Dhnographic .IJIJimuch. Oxford: lkrg. Miller. D. 2011. Tulesjiwn Funhook. Cambridgc: Polity Prcss. Miller, D .. and D. Slatcr. 2000. The lntcmet: .In Ulnwgra;J/iic .IJIJimuch Oxford: Berg. MorozO\, E. 2011. The .\et /)elusion. London: /\llcn Lanc. Munn. N. 19X6. The Fume o/Gmm. Cambridgc: Cambridgc Uni\crsit::. Prcss. Oostcrbaan, M. 20 I Oa. Virtual Migration: Brazilian Diasporic Mcdia and thc Rcconfigurations ot'Piacc and Space. Rel'/lc EumJIL;cnnc dc.1 .\!igrutions lnt('I'IIUtionulc.l 26( I): X I I 02. Oostcrbaan. M. 2010b. Virtual Rt:-C\angclization: Bra;ilian Churchcs. Mcdia and the Postsccular City. In C1ploring the !'ost.1ccular: The Religious. the f'nlilim/. the L'rhun. cd . .1. Beaumont./\. Molcndijk and C. .kdan. 2X I JOX. Lcidcn: Brill. Postill, .1. 200X. L.ocali;ing the lntcrnct beyond Communitics and 1\:L't\\orks .. \'etr .'-v!cdia Socictr I 0: 413. Putnam. R. 200 I. Bml'ling Alone. New York: Simon & Schustcr. Qiu . .1. 2009. i1111'king-( '/a1s .Vetlt'ork Socictr: ( 'ollllllllllicolion Technologr und the lnfimnation !futc-Lcss in L'rhan Chino. Cambridgc. MA: MIT Prcss. Rettberg . .1. 200X. Blogging. Cambridgc: Polity Press. Sennett. R. 1977. The Fall ojPuhlic .\fan. Ncw York: Knopf. Strathcrn. M. 1996. Cutting the Nd\\ork. Joumul o/lhc Rom/ .lnthm;ll!!ogicul Institute 2: 517 35. Wei. D .. and T. Qian. 2009. Thc Mobilc !!earth: i\ Cas<: Stud; on Nc\\ Mcdia L:sagc and Migrant Workcrs' Social Rclationship. Paper prcscnted at thc /\N/CA Conferencc . .I unc. http:/ 1\\W\\.anzca.nct/con fcrcnccs:an;ca09pnKccdi ngs.html. Wool gar. S .. cd. 2002. f lrtuul Societr:) Ox ford: Ox ford U ni\ crsit; Prcss.

/mlitidual. cd. D. Mill<:r. 99 114. Oxford: lkrg. llorst. II.. and A. Panagakos. 2006. Rcturn to Cybcria: Technology and the Social
Worlds of Transnational Migrants. (ilohal Sct\\'orks 6(2): I 09- 24. llumphrcy. C. 2009. The Mask and the Facc: Imagination and Social Lifc in Russian Chat Rooms and lkyond. Fthnos 74( I): 31 50. Ito. M .. S. Baumer. M. Bittanti. d. boyd. R. Cody. B. 1-lcrr-Stcphcnson. H. Horst. P. Lange. D. Mahcndran. K. Martinez. C. Pasco<:. D. Pcrkcl. L. Robinson. C. Sims and L. Tripp. 20 I 0. flanging Out, .'vfessing Around, Ciuking Out: Uting ami

reaming tt'ith Nett' Afedia. Camhridgc. MA: MIT Press. .loncs. Ci . and B. Sehicnlin. 2009. Talking Text and Talking Bade 'My BFF .Jill' from Boob Tube to YouTubc. Journal of Computer-Mediated Communication
14: I 050 79. Jones. Ci., B. Schicfllin and R. Smith. 2011. Whcn Friends Who Talk Togcther Stalk Together: Online Gossip as Mctacommunication. In /)igital ni.ICOI/rse: ranguoge

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Media. cd. C. Thurlow and K. Mroczek. 26 47. Oxford: Oxford Uni-

vcrsity Prcss. Kirkpatrick. D. 20 I 0. The Facehook /:'ffi'ct. London: Virgin Books. Komito. L.. and J. Batcs. 2009. Virtually Local: Social Media and Community among Polish Nationals in Dublin. ASUIJ f'roccedings: Nett' fn/imnotion Pcr-

spectilcs 61(3): 232 44.


Lange. P. G. 2007. Publicly Privatc and Privately Public: Social Nct\vorking on YouTube. Journal of ( 'om;mtcr-A4ediated ( 'ommunication 13( I): article I X. http:// jcmc.indiana.cdu/voll3/issuc I /langc.html. Livingstone. S. 200X. Taking Risky Opportunitics in Youthful Content Creation: Teenagers' Usc of Social Networking Sites for Intimacy. Privacy and ScJf:. cxprcssion. New A1edia and Socict\' I 0: 393 411. Livingstone. S. 20 I 0. ( 'hildren and the Internet. Cambridge: Polity Press. Madden, M. 20 I 0. Older Adults and the Social lv!cdia. Report from the Pew Internet and American Li fc Project. http:/ /pcwi ntcrnct.org/Rcports/20 I 0/0ider-Adultsand-Soc ia 1-M cd ia/Rcport.aspx.

Part IV Politicizing Digital Anthropology

~8~

Digital Politics and Political Engagement


John Posti/1

The gnming usc of digital media by political actors of all kinds (including politicians, journalists, acti\ists and religious leaders) has gi' en rise to a thri\ ing literature. albeit one that is diYidcd along disciplinary and technological lines. It is onl: \cry recently that the term digital politics has begun to acquire currency. This appears to signal the birth oLm interdisciplinary field that studies both the digiti/at ion of traditional politics as well as the rise ofnc\\ l(mns of political life originating in the digital world, such as WikiLcaks or the Anonymous mo\ cmcnt. Whilst there is as yet no digital politics tc:~;thook, three useful entry points into the suhlicld of Internet politics arc Chad\\ ick and llm\ard"s (:200~) Routledge 1/wulhook o/11//emct l'o/itin: Oates, 0\\Cil and (libson\ (:2006) The lntcmct and
Politic.~:

and Chad\\ ick\ (:200(>}

Internet l'olitics. This chapter starts \\ ith four rc\ ic\\ sections that em cr similar
ground to the material discussed in these \\orks. although I broaden the inquir: to include mobile media. For c:~;ample the nnt section is titled "digital go\ crnmcnt' rather than c-gmcrnmcnt' the latter a krm usually associated'' ith the Internet hut not\\ ith mobile technologies. The subsequent sections ncmplil) the application of an anthropological approach to the study of digital politics. Dr;m ing limn m: 0\\n fieldwork in Malaysia and Spain. I argue that anthropolog) brings to this nascent field a rich political le:~;icon. proccssual analyses, ground-up Lomparisons and participatory research. I conclude \\ ith a brief" discussion of the potential l(lr future anthropological studies in this area.

Digital Government (Executives and Bureaucracies)

One of the more inllucntial introductions to the study of digital go\crnmcnt is Fountain's (:200 I) Building the~ lrliwl State.\\ hich c:~;plorcs the relationship bet\\ ccn new Internet technologies and institutional change \\ithin go\nnmcnt agencies in the United States. Fountain argues that the US bureaucracy must nwdcrni/c and move towards a more dcccntrali/cd system. yet one that can still guarantee citi/cns right to pri\ acy. The system\ structural obsolescence present~;, ho\\ C\ cr, a l(mnidable obstacle. Researchers working in Europe and Asia ha\C similar!; reported a

165

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\\ide chasm bCl\\CCil the\ isions and realities or digital gmcrnmcnt. Thus, in the early 2000s, Malaysia's c-gm crnmcnt llagship sought to 'imprO\ c the com cnicncc, accessibility and quality or interactions'' ith citi/cns and businesses' ( Yong 2003: I X9). The\ ision \\as, ami remains, 'l(ll gmcrnmcnL businLsscs and citi/cns to \\Ork together I(Jr the benefit of the country and all its citi/cns' (Yong 2003: I ')0) In practice. IHn\ c\ cr, officials report poor digital practices and a resistance to inrormation and communication !L'chnology ( ]( 'T) integration throughout the Malaysian public sector (Karim and Khalid 200.\: XI 7) a finding l~uniliar to researchers studying ..:-government projects in Luropc (sec Kubicek, Millard and Wcstholm 2003). ;\s new digital technologies and practices ha\ c spread, digital gm crnmcnt ad\ ocatcs have sought to recruit them to the clusi\ c task or imprm ing the runctioning or gmcrnmcnt agencies. For instance, Nmcck (200X) l~l\Ours the adoption or opensource practices to dcmocrati/c go\crnmcnt dccis1on making(\\ ith Wikipcdia as the template) and sees great potential in the collahorativc usc of simple digital tools by citi/.cns to assist 'isolated bureaucrats'. Other scholars place their hopes in the transition li01n ..:-government tom-go\ crnmcnt, based on mobile platforms, particularly in the global South, \\here 'last mile connection' infiastructurc is oficn lacking ( Kuschchu and Kuscu 2003; Narayan 2007). They sec m-go\ crnmcnt as a way or bridging the digital divide, especially in rural areas ori\tiica and South Asia, creating a \\orld in which citi/cns \\ill hm c 'anytime, any\\ here access' to public sen ices (;\lramoqi and De Siha 2010). Digital government scholarship is hampered by its commitment to what (irccn, llarvcy and Knox (2005) have called 'the imperative to connect' in Manchester, UK. The
O\

Dahlberg (2001) has C\aluatcd the citi/cn-lcd initiati\c 1\linncsota c-Democrac). built around an e-mail list f(mnn. against fi1c prcdl'lincd public sphere criteria: autonomy fi01n state <llld market, reciprocal critique, rcflni\ itv. sJnccrit}, and discursive inclusion. !.ike the term cummllnifl (sec helm\) or illlked ,nllll<'clilirr. public sphere is used both as a 'rhetorical tokcn'(Bcn-;on2007: J) and as a normati\c notion that guides research <may li01n \\hat is and to\\ ards 11 hat o11ght to he. Instead tl!' this romantic ideal. ('had\\ ick (200X: I 0) argues I(Jr a nc\\ <lpproach tu dclll<lcraLy \\ hnc 'a plurality or diffCrcnt sociotcchnical \:dues and mechanisms' L'an lind their place, taking achantagc of the lm1 entry threshold and case of usc of\Vcb 2.0 tools. More recently. Carty (2010) has explored the potential or digital media in the de\ clopmcnt or
IlL'\\'

\\ays or mobili/ation, participatory democracy and ci\ ic entl\1

gagement. This requires lcm ing behind carl1cr models o!" mobili/ation h<hcd on

l~lcc-to-f:lcc communication. laking the logic of" digital technologies on its

n terms.

Roberts (2009) urges a more cautious and critical stance to\\ ards the democratic possibilities oi'Wcb 2.0 tools. More pessimistically, !Iindman (:200')) concludes that the corporate media have maintained their audience share ol' '' ch content, and ordinarv citi/cns are not 'cmpo\\crcd' by the Ill'\\ digital tools.

Digital Campaigning (Parties, Candidates, Elections)


The scholarly literature on digital political eampaigning has been dominated by the \\ide usc or Internet and mobile teclmologics in US presidential camp<ugns since 2000 ( Hara 200X). On the whole, this literature is tkscnptiw. quantitati\l and umkrthcori/cd, though it prm ides a rich scam of empirical
C\

an urge that they

encountered during anthropological research into publicly rundcd digital projects crriding ambition on the part or ICT managers and stall \\as to link European projects across di' ides or geography, language. culture and organi/ation. The aim \Vas not to create\ irtual spaces hut rather 'nc\\ nct\\orks or located connection' (2005: X17 ), a 'is ion animated by a 'l~mtasy or ... "llattcncd" connection' (2005: X17) that ov crlookcd the constraints, tangles and disconnects that im ariahly accompany such endeavours (sec Strathcrn 1996 ).

idencc. For namplc. Bimbcr

and Da\ is (200.\) I(Jcus on candidate \\cbsitcs during the elections or 2000 and the impact they had on 'otcrs' bcha\ iour. Four years later, ( ornlicld ( 2005) l(nmd that the Internet made a substantial di flcrcncc to both candidates and \ otcrs. \\ ith , cry largL' numbers or adults using the Internet. Most candidates had to embark on a steep learning cunc to maximi/c the campaigning potential ofthc by-1Hm-l~uniliar Internet. I lara (200X) f(lllowcd the online acti\ist group I\ 1m cOn.org to document participants' '1 oiccs', noting a discrepancy hcl\\ ccn this group\ nonhicrarchical and

Digital Democracy (Community, Deliberation, Participation)


I !'the key digital government metaphor is connectivity, the field of digital democracy has at its core the concept or 'public sphere'. associated with the social philosopher .ICirgcnllahcrmas. ;\public sphere is 'an arena, independent orgmcrnmcnt [and market [ ... which is dedicated to rational debate and\\ hich is both accessible to entry and open to inspection by the citi/cnry. It is here ... that public opinion is formed' (Holub, quoted in Webster 1995: I 01 2 ). Despite llabcrmas's insistence that his concept of public sphere rckrrcd to a particular pha!'L' in Luropcan history, for many authors the public sphere has become a normativ c ideal (Benson 2007; Chadwick 2006 ). Thus,

dcccntrali/cd image and the traditional nature or its actual practices. llo\\ard (200)) f(nllld !hat the Internet disseminated\ aluablc data about policies. programmes. candidates and other political actors ('deep democracy'). But he also encountered a prc\:dcncc ofcxprcssi\c, mcrcngagcd politics ('thin citi/cnship") as
\I

ell as pri\acy

concerns raised by the cxtcnsi\c usc or data mining by political parties. This intensified \lith the populari/alion or social networking sites, a trend documented for the 200X campaign ( Pc\\ Research Centre I(Jr the People and the Press 200X). B) the 200X campaign, nearly half or all Americans used the Internet tu keep inl(mncd (a finding confirmed by Smith and Rainie 200X), \\ith younger \Oters and Obama supporters more likely to usc these technologies.

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Othn rcscarciH:rs hei\C ill\cstigatcd political hlogging. In Canada. J:lmcr ct al. (2009) lw\c mapped the relationship hcl\\Ccn hlogs and party loyalty through hyperlink analyses. discovering that Conscn ali\ c Party bloggcrs arc particularly loyal to thcir party in thcir hlog rccommcndations.

Digital Mobilization (Interest Groups and Social Movements)


A uscl'ul entry point into this rcscarch arca is Mclucci\ ( 199(1) C'fw!!L'nging CodL's. ( 'ritical of rcsourcc mobili/ation thcory. Mclucci strcsscs thc cultural dimensions of social movcmcnts and rcgards collccti\ c action as being ill\ ariably tcthcrcd to relational structurcs (or social liclds) that constrain action. although 'brcakthrough social agcncy is always possible' (Vcnkatcsh 2003: 344 5). Castclls (2001) argues that cultural mmcmcnts arc built around communication. cspccially \ ia thc mass mcdia and thc lntcrnct. Hc liunously posits networks as thc ddining social formations of our cra. highlighting thc importance ofnctworkcd socialmmcmcnts such as thc /apatista uprising in Chiapas. Mcxico. or thc anticorporatc globali/ation movcmcnt in Scattlc (scc also Castclls 2()()l)). Juris (200X) cxtcnds thcsc idcas through anthropological fieldwork among antiglobali/ation activists in Barcclona. Spain. Following Masscy. he argucs that transnational nctworks arc ill\ariably cntanglcd with 'a complcx nc.\.us of translocal tics and articulations' (Juris 200X: 63). Thus the lick! oi'Catalonian acti\ism is a product of this rcgion 's strong anti-Francoist. nationalist and anarchist traditions ( 63 ). With /apatista ideals and web tcchnologics added to the mi.\. in thc 1990s. the rcsult \\as 'a uniquc lim11 of activism guided by emerging nctworking logics and practices' (70). Anothcr strand of rcscarch cxplorcs thc usc of mobilc tcchnologics for activism. social protcst and mobili/.ation. Rhcingold (2002) \Hitcs about thc growing importancc of'mobilc ad hoc socialnctworks' (or 'smart mobs') to collcctivc action. Early cxamplcs ofthcsc 'spontancous social cxpcrimcnts' includc thc massi\c usc of text mcssagcs to mobili/c against Prcsidcnt htrada in thc Philippincs in 200 I (although this has bccn subscqucntly qucstioncd. sec Rali1el 200]) or against Spain's ruling Popular Party I(JIIowing tcrrorist attacks in 2004. Thc debate was rcignitcd in 2009 with thc publication of Shirky's Here C'onw.1 1:.\'CI'\'hodr. a much-commcntcd-on account about how ne\\ digital tools li1stcr collcctivc action by grcatly !owning thc financial and timc costs incurrcd. One of the many cxamplcs cited by Shirky was how Chinese parents uscd Twittcr and other Web 2.0 mcdia to S\\ illly limn protcst groups against thc local authoritics 1(1110\\ing an carthquakc in May 200X in which nearly 7.000 schools collapsed. killing thousands of children. Shirky\ most vocal critic has bccn Monl/ov (2011 ). \\ho challcngcs thc idca that thc lntcrncl scrvcs to mh ancc li-cedom and democracy. Ir anything. hc suggcsts. the Internet tig,htcns thc grip of' rcprcssi\ c regimcs like China or Iran. Taking a middlc path. I lands (20 I 0) sccks to a\ oid l~dsc dichotomics

(e.g. virtual \Crsus rca! lite) and mcdia polcmics ot'thc 'l\1 ittcr rc1olution' \arict:-. Hands sees digital tcelmologics as bcing intcgral to political strugglcs. not as alicn artel~1cts impacting upon an othcm isc apathctic ci\ il society. In a rcccnt review of' the digital ctlmography litcraturc. Colcman (20 I 0) points out that ethnograpiH.:rs havc documented a rangL' of digital acti\ ism lim11s. including Juris\ just mentioned antiglobali/ation study. han a I act i1 ism in suburban i\lalaysia ( l'osti II 200X ). diaspora mobi Ii/ation and social mcdia (Costatw1-Chock 200X ). political blogging in Iran (Doostdar 2004: Srebcrny and Khiaban: 2010) and nongovcrnmcntal organi/ation tcchnological acti1 ism (Me lncrncy 2009) --a list to which we could add cthnographies of lntcrnct-mcdiatcd 11ar (Briiuchlcr 2005). nwbile phoncs and village politics (Tenhuncn 200S) and local c-govcrnancc ( Hinkclbcin 200X: Strauss 2007). The next section draws from my \\ork on digital politics in ivlalaysia to exemplify three key anthropological strcngths. First. anthropology brings to the tablc a rich political lcxicon de\ eloped over dccadcs of cross-cultural rcscarch and thcori/.ation around thc globe. Second. political anthropology has a long tradition of follm\ing the conllict' (Marcus 1995) that is highly pcrtincnt to today\ digitally mediated struggles. Third. cthnographic research lcnds itsclf to post hoc comparisons of political phenomcna cncountered in the field. For instance. \\hat I he\\ c tcrmcd 'banal activism' is a spccics of digital activism that! did not sct out to study in f'vlalaysia but rathcr cncountcred in the coursc of licldwork.'

Case Study One: Suburban Malaysia A Rich Politico! Ll'.ricon


Subang Jaya and its sister township. USJ. make up a largely middlc-class. ctlmic Chincsc suburb of Kuala Lumpur. Most rcsidcnts arri\ cd in this ell\ ard-\\ inning suburb in the 1990s hoping to find a grccn and sate em ironment in \vhich to raise their young l~m1ilics. Thcir plans were soon complicatcd. ho\\C\ cr. by a series of regional. national and local criscs. In 1997 the collapse of South Last Asia's financial markets caused a sharp cconomic do\\ nturn in Malaysia alicr many ycars of robust gnmth. A dccp political crisis ensucd \1 hcn the then deputy prime ministcr. Atm ar Ibrahim. was imprisoned without trial. This led to an cxplosion of pro-A 1m ar \\ cbsitcs that Prime Ministcr Mahathir's gm crnmcnt was unablc to dcl'use. he\\ ing guarantccd forcign ICT im estors that thc Internet \\ ould rem a in ticc tim11 gm crnmcntal medd Iin g. It \\as preciscly in 1997 that Subang.laya's municipal council \\as established. T\\(l years latcr. in 1999. the ne\\ council bccd thc flrst of many challenges lhm1 residents' groups 11 hen it raised local ta:-.es by 240 per cent. This cpisodc ga\ c rise to a type of 'banal activism' that has prcdominatcd in Subang Jay a ever since -an acti1 ism lcd by tcchnology-sany rcsidcnts who usc the rhetoric ofeommunity to campaign on issues

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such as taxation, trallic congestion, 11 astc disposal_ school prm is inn and local crime. These issues would seem mundane to the urban intelligentsia in Kuala Lumpur or to the young antiglobali:tation acti1 ists in Barcelona studied by Juris (200X), but they arc crucial to suburban parents embarked on liunily-building projects. From 2003 to 2004, I conducted licldwork in Suhang Jay<L l"ollm1 cd by intermittent online research liom Britain until 2009 and a bricl" 1 is it in 20 I 0. I l(nllld a plethora or digital projects during my stay, ranging rrom a multimedia library and a 'cybcrmosquc' to several 11cb l(mnns and a l011nship11idc 'smart community' initiative. On returning home, my initial attempt at placing these various initiatives along a community network continuum (11 ith community-like initiatives at one end and network-like initiatives at the other) soon roundcrcd. L\cntually I rcali/ed that I had lid len into the community/nct\lork trap that lies at the heart ol" Internet studies (Post ill 200X). The trap consists or reducing the plurality and flux or social and political l(mnations that o.1c imariably linds in contemporary localities (e.g. peer groups, cohorts, associations, gangs, clans, sects, mosques, I~Ictions, families, action committees, mailing lists, Faccbook groups, T11 ittcr trends) to a crude community-1crsus-nctwork dichotomy. This originates in the misguided idea that our local communities arc being impacted upon by a global network society and by that network or networks known as the Internet. In search ora way out orthis impasse, I rc1 isitcd the early work of(iluckman, Turner, Epstein and other members orthc Manchester School or Anthropology. I also f(lllnd unexpected links between this ancestral literature and more recent anthropological explorations (e.g. ;\mit and Rapport 2002: (iledhill 2000) as well as signs of a renewed interest in their pioneering studies ( Lvcns and llandclman 200(J ). The Manchester scholars conducted fieldwork in a \cry different part or the world (British Central i\lrica) and under radically di 11crcnt historical conditions: the end or empire. Yet the conceptual issues they conlrontcd were strikingly similar to those I was struggling with alicr returning lr0111 postcolonial Malaysia. The problem boils down to how to study a locality under conditions or rapid social and political change when tribaL regionaL linguistic and other groupings appear to be in llux and new kinds or alliliations and social l(mnations arc being constantly made and remade. Faced\\ ith such lluid actualities on the ground, the Manchester scholars moved away iiom the then-predominant structural-l"unctionalist paradigm and towards historical-proccssual accounts inl(mncd by new concepts such as 'field', 'ego-centred nct110rk', 'social drama' and 'arena'. In my book IAJculi~ing the Internet (Postill2011 ), I synthcsi:tc this approach with the equally historical and proccssual flcld-thcorcticalmodcl developed by Bourdieu, best demonstrated in his The Rules of llrt ( 19% ). Rather than positing the existence ora local community being impacted upon by global networks, I discuss how \ariously positioned lick! agents and agcnci.:s in Subang .laya (residents, politicians, comm ittccs, councillors, journa Iists and others) compete and cooperate over matters concerning the local rcsid.:nts, olicn \ia th.: Internet. I call this dynamic set or projects, practices, technologies and relations 'the field ol"rcsidcntial aiE1irs'. This can

be described as a digital licld in that the set of social relation' and practices that sustain it arc inextricably entangled 11 ith digital technologies such as e-maiL mailing lists, 11 cb portals, online l(mnns, hlogs and mobile phones. Like Epstein ( 19.'\X) in his late 19-1-0s licld110rk in northern Rhodesia's mining areas, I round that processes or change 11 nc unc1 en!~ spread across Subang .Ia~ a\; lick! or residential aiE1irs, 11ith some regions or the licld changing more rapid!) than others. For example, the fight against crime is an ccumeniLal issUL' that has brought together people and agencies li01n across the go1 ern mental di\ ide in the to11 nship. Crime piT\ en lion initiati1 cs kd by residents ha1 c rccci1 cd go1 ern mental support and mass media co\ cragc and ha\ c undergone considerable tcchnol<lgical de\ clopmen!, including nc11 mobile applications. By contrast. a nation\\ ide campaign to reinstate local elections made no lasting impact. Besides h<l\ ing (\\O or more main sectors, typically a lick! or residential ai'li1irs 11 ill exhibit both 'stations' and 'arenas' (the latter arc described later) . .-\dapting Giddens's ( 19X4: 119) notion or stations, I dcllnc lick! stations as those stopping places in 1vhich field agents interact 11 ith other agents, ideas and technologies on a regular basis, an interaction that in turn (rc)produccs the station. l~xamples include a leading resident\ daily (\\eels on local issues, a politician\ 11 cckly surgery or the regular public meetings or a parish council. For a local leader_ a regular presence in such settings is an essential part or maintaining. good 11orking relations 11 ith allies and supporters. By the same token. a prolonged absence from such stations is likely w undermine a leader's position 11 ithin the licld of residential alTa irs, a domain suffused 11 ith metaphors or co presence, collaboration and rnotedncss. So I~Ir the picture of the field I have painted is one of(iiddcnsian routini/ation the predictable cycles or political agents as they go about coordinating their acti\ itics and (rc)producing. their practices in clock-and-calendar time (Postill :.:'00:.:'). But to complete the picture 11c must also consider those irregular_ olkn unpredictable patterns of collccti\c action that disrupt the regular schedules or a licld or practice. In other words, 11c need to I(JII0\1 the conflict.

Folio wing I he Con(lief


Today we associate field thcor; 11 ith BourdictL 11 hose analytical prckrcnce is l(lr the slow-mo1ing, cumulati1c changes that take place 11 ithin a ticld (Couldry 2003: Swart/ 1997: 129), not l(lr potentially 1olatik processes such as court trials or popular uprisings that olicn migrate across liclds. The Parisian salons, brasseries and courthouses or Bourdicu\ The Rules of lrt prm idcd him 11 ith a lixcd spatial matrix of objccti\c relations the sociophysical backdrop to a slm1 ly changing licld or practice (Bourdicu 19%: 40 J ). Political processes 11 .:rc, in beL central to the collaborati1c 11 ork orthc Manchester SchooL whose licld theories predate Bourdicu's by man; years. B; political process

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Digilal An!hrupolog\

/)igilul!'nlilics und l'oli!icul Fn."l,ugcmenl

17J

they meant that kind of social process that is 'imohcd in determining and implementing public goals [as well asl in the differential achievement and usc of power by the members of the group concerned with those goals' (Swartc, Turner and Tudcn

each and C\cry one of' them into action'. lie appended a list of' politicians and their reactions to the text messages, which ranged fiom full support'to a promise to 'look into the matter'. llcrc \\C can sec clearly Turner\ ( 197-1) notion of arena at \\Ork through a new technological articulation that bet\\Ccn Internet and nwhilc media. In an arena. nothing must be leflunsaid: all actors dr:m n into the drama ('jolted into action') must state publicly\\ hnc they stand on the dispute at hand. The following day, Raymond contributed a post in \\ hich he identified a Jlllmhcr of procedural lapses in the f(lod court project. This suggested thnc may he' a 'higher pm\cr at play'. Soon the drama\ central arena shifkd online\\ hen some two hundred residents demonstrated at the building site under l'ullmcdia co\ cragc. as Raymond put it.

1966: 7). One key Manchester School concept is social drama'. Coined by Victor Turner, a social drama is a political process that originates vvitl1in a social group but
can spread across a wider intergroup field unless appropriate 'rcdrcssivc action' is taken (Turner I 974: 12S 32). Social dramas undergo four stages: (I) breach, (2) crisis, (3) rcdrcssivc action and (4) either reintegration or schism. The Subang Jaya digital drama I wish to recount revolved around a seemingly banal issue: the building of a f(JOd court. As the theory predicts, the conflict was triggered by a perceived breach of the regular norms governing relations between two local parties---in this case, the residents versus the municipal council.

Rcdrcssilc Aclion /Jreoch


The drama began when a local activist named Raymond Tan announced online that construction of a food court had begun on land earmarked for the building of a police station in the crime-ridden suburb. He urged local residents to cast their vote on an online poll that was created to solicit their reactions. The i(JJiowing day another leading activist, .lefT Ooi, replied suggesting that there may he somebody in the council promoting f(lod courts. The station made the issue 'even fishier'.
f~1ct

The climax ol' the drama came\\ hen the deputy home minister

paid a visit to Subang .Jaya and promised to rcsoh c the dispute. This rcdrcssi\ c mm e by the authorities \\as promptly reciprocated by the local acti\ ists, \vlw \\ere only too eager. as one of them put it, to 'complete the cycle' ol'thc campaign. To this cmL the action committee deputy leader circulated a message asking residents to slum their elected representatives their gratitude \ ia SM S.

that the land was reserved f(Jr a police

Rcinlcgru/ion

Only t\\ o months alter these auspicious C\ cnts, fresh rumours began

to circulate online that the operator \\as planning to resume construction ol'th..: J'ood

Crisis

Within a l'cw days, the discussion had spread to a number of local electronic

court. Soon thereafter. the local council appro\ cd the project, and phy~ical \\ ork resumed at the site. Raymond's reaction\\ as uncqui\ ocal: Friends and neighbours. arc \\ c !,!Oing to a lim\ these cllm ns [to [ pu~h the FOOD court do\\ n our thwats'-'' Space limitations here preclude a discussion of the subsequent unl(llding ol' C\ cnts. which included a highly unusual ofllinc arena--namely a public hc;1ring. The police station was C\ cntually completed a tier a five-year struggle. This digital drama demonstrates the limitations ol' the comiminit: net\\ ork paradigm f(Jr the study ol'lntcrnctlocalization (Postill 200S). By broadening the analysis fimn the neighbourhood domain to the\\ idcr field ol' residential al'l~1irs. \\C gained an understanding of local leaders' individual and collccti\ c agency. relations \\ ith other local agents and their multiple uses ol' digital media at <I critical point in the suburb\ history. Raymond emerged fimn the drama as a f(mnidablc field broker. Like Internet acti\ ists in other parts of' the \\orieL Raymond possesses an unusual combination ol' technical. political and cultural skills' (Coleman 200.'i: 39). Throughout the digital drama. he connected and coordinated the disparate parties ill\ oh cd using a range of technologies as well as l~lcc-to-I~ICC encounters. At least fi\ c mailing lists, t\\O \\Cb f(mims. personal e-mail and mobile telephony \\ere recruited to th..: intcnsi\ c campaigning. Two key 'Internet ai'l(lrdanccs' (Wellman ct al. 200.1) \\ere exploited to the l'ull: hypcrtcxtuality and intcracti\ ity. \Vhilst the \videly circulated hyper] inks ensured a high degree of message redundancy, the intcracti\C \\Ch l(mJm and e-mail

mailing lists. Raymond encouraged residents to feed the politicians' responses to their tcxting campaign back to the mailing list or, alternatively, to either oft\vo local portals. The next day, .lcfTOoi sent subscribers of all five mailing lists a citizenjournalism item he had recently posted on the portal\ news section. The piece chided the members of parliament and assemblymen f(Jr their inaction. It then noted the absence of the mandatory project notice board at the building site. This remark resonates with reports of local activism fiom elsewhere. Faced\\ ith powerful interests, people around the world 'have quickly in\-cntcd resourceful means of resistance' (Abram 199S: 13). Later that day, Raymond used both the web forum and five mailing lists to announce the recent formation of an action committee. He listed the names and affiliations of the pro tcm committee members. with himself at the helm and a close associate as his right hand. The other eleven members were recruited fiom across the field of residential am1irs. The campaign was spearheaded not by an imaginary community but rather by a subset of' Raymond's local contacts in the shape of a small action committee. This improvised committee is best described as an action set -a group of' individuals mobilized to attain a specified goal who will disperse when that goal is either reached or abandoned (Mayer 19(16: Turner 1974 ). Within twcnty-f()ur hours. Raymond\ deputy informed f(mlm subscribers that the campaign to lobby local politicians via text messages had 'resulted in jolting

r
/)igitu/l'olitic.l und l'oliticul rugugcmcnt 175

threads aided the active participation ol' residents in the l~1st-mo\ ing drama. The cl~ !Cct 11as magnilicd by the grassroots _journalism or.lclf()oi and ample mass media em crag c. The crisis sprc<td virall;. spilling over into the pmlcrl'ulliclds ol' federal government and the mass media through the dell usc or a range or digital media by an unprecedented alliance or rcsidcnh groups. The ensuing drama rc1 cals the field\ dynamics or lilctionalism. alliance building and technological mediation as well as its entanglements 11 ith powcrrul neighbouring fields at a gi1 en point in time.

Ground-up ( 'om;wrisons
Anthropology is a comparative endeavour. llm\c\ cr. because ethnographic fieldwork is a participant-driven. open-ended process. this can lead into nc11 research directions. complicating any prior comparati1 c rramcwork. Rather than seeing this as a problem. though. I regard it as an opportunity to carry out what we might call 'ground-up comparisons that is. post hoc comparis(1ns arising !'rom the rcscarchcrs experiences on the ground. On returning rrom Malaysia. I discovered intriguing parallels in the digital media literature bct11ccn my mvn findings and those ti01n other middle-class suburbs in places that were geographically and culturally remote rrom Subang .laya. including Tel i\1i1. Toronto. Melbourne and Plano. Texas (sec Arnold. Shepherd and (iibbs 200X; Durington 2007; !Iampton 2003; !Iampton and Wellman 2003; Mesch and l.cvanon 2003 ). With the benefit or hindsight. I 11011 regard my study as pa1 ing the way i(>r ruturc comparisons 11 ith analogous natural experiments (Diamond and Robinson 20 I 0) in digital locali/ation in neighbourhoods world11 ide. To illustrate this comparati1c potential. consider a recent study or media and actil ism in an upmarket housing estate ncar Melbourne. Australia. named' Kookaburra llollow (a pseudonym. sec Arnold d a!. 200X ). Like their Subang .lay a counterparts. Kookaburra llollm1 incomcrs arri1 cd in pursuit or the dream of a green. sak and high-tech suburbia away rrom the chaos and pollution or urban Iill:. They too. however. soon round that all 11as not 11cll in their leary neighbourhood. As part or an a11racti1c package. the dc1elopcrs had oiTcrcd prospective buyers high-speed broadband connections in c1 cry household. /\las. this 1~1ikd to matcriali/c in many homes. triggering the onset or Kookaburra llollows own brand or banal activism aimed at securing this technology. (Other complaints centred on allegations or poorly built houses and a scarcity or public amenities.) Residents turned to the local intranct li~eility---originally envisaged by the developers as a site f(Jr com ivi<li community building to plan and carry out their campaign along with f~Jcc-to-Elcc meetings and homemade banners. The fledgling intranct station morphcd into a tield arena where the two camps clashed as a local social drama unl(lldcd. Representing the developers was Bill i"'andcrs (jocosely knm1n as 'Big Brother). 11110 was the intranct rorum

moderator. Opposing him stood the contnll crsial ligurL ur Anthon~ Briggs. a 1 ocal resident regarded by some neighbours as being too conrrontational. The drama escaped the control or JocaJ actors\\ hen a popular L'UITCnt-al"f~lirs prog.rammc 011 tcJc\ is ion em ercd the conflict at the request ol' leading rcsidLnts. Follo11 ing the airing ol'this show, a 'gnming chorus ol'rcsidcnts C:\prcsscd their concern that the media co1cragc might undermine local property 1alucs (:\rnold ct al. 200:-\). i\s this synopsis shows. Kookaburra llollml \ licld or residential al"f~1irs is di1 idcd into t1n1 main subticlds or sectors: a pri1atc sector (the dc1clopcrs) and a residents sector. The authors describe the arrangement as one or 'pri1 atiscd go1 crnancc . in 1vhich most or the runctions that one 11 uuld normally associate 11 ith a local council arc dc1ohcd to a pri1atc firm (sec Low 200.\). As in Subang. .lay<L thcrc is a strong rhetoric or community. solidarity and rootedness at 11 ork across this di1 ide. What I ha1 c termed li1r Subang. .lay a 'an interest in disinterestedness ( Bourdicu 1996), Arnold and his coauthors label 'interested solidarity (200X: I 0). Residents constantly remind one another that it is in their sell~ interest to thnm in their lot 11 ith the rest or the community. Yet just as in the early days ol' banal aL'Ii1 ism 111 Subang .Jaya. Kookaburra Hollow residents soon learned that im oil in g. the mass media in a local dispute can sometimes do more harm than good.

Case Study Two: Urban Spain

Port icipafon Research


Today we lilc in a \cry ditTcrcnt world rromthat IIIlich rramcd my l\1alaysian ticldwork in 2003 04. Whilst the United States. Britain . .Iapan and othLr del eloped nations ha1 c been mired in a deep economic crisis since 200X. emerging economics such as China. India and Russia continue to experience strong gnm th. At the same time. increasingly affordable participatory media such as blogs. microblogs. 11 ikis. social network sites. video sharing sites and smartplwncs arc 11011 in the hands or millions or ordinary citi/cns. In countries as disparate as Iceland. Tunisia. l~g~ pt. Spain. Britain. Israel. Malaysia and India. the COil\ crgcncc or these (\Ill global trends--geopolitical and economic turbulence on the one hand and 11 idcly a\ ailablc digital media on the othcr--ha1c liicllcd nc11 rorms ol' ci1 ilunrcst and tcchnopolitical activism that the ruling elites arc finding very ditlicult to counter. Ciivcn the centrality or participant obscn at ion to the ethnographic approach. anthropologists arc well placed to study the usc ol' participatory media in these complex processes. This section describes some ol' the potential uses or participator~ research 11 ith reference to m; recent flcld1\ ork into social media and acti1 ism in Barcelona. Spain. The aim or this 20 I 0 II project 11 as to dc!L'rminc 11 hcthcr social lllL'dia such as Facchook. You Tube and Twiltcr arc making any significant di !Terence to the 11 ork or

r
176
o

/)igilul Anlhm;wlogr

/)igilall'olilic.l and l'olilicall:ngagcllll'lll

177

activists, as is ollcn claimed in the nc\\S media and in some ol'thc literature reviewed earlier. A hiding hy the political anthropology impcrati\ c to l(lllmv the conllicL my research I(Jcus shi llcd as did conditions on the ground, !'rom an early li.1cus on nationalist activism through a middle period studying Internet liccdom, ending \\ ith the dramatic events ol' 15 May 20 II,\\ hen hundreds ol' thousands ol' Spaniards mobilized to demand 'real democracy'. These protests were !'ollowcd hy encampments in central squares ol' Madrid, Barcelona and many other cities, marking the birth ol' the mass movement known today as 15-M or the indignados movement. One striking feature ol'this movement is the pcnasivc, decentralized usc of social media hy hackers. prodcmocracy acti\ ists and countless ordinary citizens to Ji.mn a common liont. Although a few fundamentalist hackers refused to usc corporate platli.mns such as Facchook or T\\ ittcr. most campaigners I encountered justified their usc of corporate social media on pragmatic grounds. For example, when the Barcelona huh ol' the umbrella organization Real Democracy Now' (lkmocracia Real Ya', DRY) was created in March 20 II. participants were encouraged to usc both Faccbook and a nonproprietary web l(mun to coordinate their activities. When it became apparent that Facchook was the preferred plat l(mn, the group's informal leaders readily went along with the majority. Throughout my research into the 15-M mmcmcnt, I took part in a range ol'collaborativc activities across \arious online platli.mns. Three examples will illustrate this participatory approach to the study ol' digital politics and political engagement. All three entail the usc ol'digitalmcdia to copy. paste, share and modify knm\ ledge\\ ith like-minded citizens, representing but a small subset ol' practices within a rapidly expanding participatory ecology. The first example concerns the usc ol' Faccbook to coauthor political texts. As a native English and Spanish speaker, part of my modest contribution to the 15-M movement has been to act as an occasional translator and proofreader. Thus, on one occasion I shared via Facchook what I regarded as an improved version of a passage taken !'rom the English translation of the DRY manifesto. In a matter ol' minutes, another user replied with a better translation. which I duly forwarded to the mani l'csto team. This example may seem pedestrian, but it captures neatly the sorts ol'micropolitical collaborations amongst strangers- --including scholars that social media enable on a much vaster scale than was possible even a l'cw years ago, bcli.Jrc the explosive uptake ol' Faccbook. Twitter and other major platl(mns. It is important, however. not to draw too sharp a distinction between corporate and licc plati(Jrms. Alter all, skills and habits acquired on the former can migrate to open-source platforms and vice versa. My second example demonstrates this transl'cr and its implications li.1r research into emerging forms ol' digitally mediated politics. As we were nearing the 15 May deadline, a local DRY campaigner told me about a new platli.mn set up to share inlimnation about like-minded groups in Barcelona. Having painstakingly created a directory of local groups on my research hlog over a period of months, I was happy to contribute to the collccti\'C cl'li.Jrt whilst

learning to usc a new tcchnopolitical tool. Soon I \\its interacting'' ith eight to ten other people -all but one ol'thcm strangers dc\'clopcd by by means of an open-source platform

s,, eden\

Pirate Party. which ad\ ocatcs greater Internet and demo-

cratic ficcdoms. The platli.mn is aptly named Pirate Pad and consists of a main '' iki area where users can easily coauthor public tc:\ts and a right-hand column \\ith a chat li1cility. On entering the pad, each user must choose a colour through \\ hich their particular contributions can be identified. The chat area allo\\s !'or rLal-timc discussion and modilication ol' the materials as the; are being shared. lla\ ing spent months slowly building up a directory on my hlog. I man clled at the extraordinary speed. smoothness and efficiency of this colorl'ul c:\crcisc. By pooling our indi\ idual knowledge. in less than t\\O hours we had produced a comprchcnsi\ c list with immcdiall' practical applications. This and similar sessions were also instructi\ c about the mechanics of inlimnal leadership in Web 2.0 settings. Although 15-M supporters ha\ c ah1 ays insisted that the movement is horizontal and leaderless. some indi\ iduals arc. ol' course. more inllucntial than others. They must, hmvc\ cr. exercise their po\\ cr subtly. leading by example. not command. Like longhousc headmen among the egalitarian !ban of Sarawak \1 ith \\hom I li\ cd in the late 1990s (Post ill ~00(J ). 15-\.1 leaders go\ ern through a subtle mixture of persuasion and admonition' (Freeman I l)]O: 113 ). Thus. when I copied and pasted a link to Catalonia's Pirate Party Ji01n my blog onto the pad. I was promptly challenged by an informal leader through the open chat channel. She cordially pointed out that. in keeping\\ ith the grassroots nature of the 15-M movement, we should not include political parties or trade unions in the directory. only citizens' groups. I agreed and quickly deleted the ofl'cnding entry (hut not \\ithout privately registering the irony of using solh1 arc de\ eloped by the Party to exclude their Catalan comrades li01n the directory). My third and final example in\'ohcs once again my research hlog. but this time paired with a \cry difl'crcnt platform: the micro-blogging site T\1 ittcr. On ~()July 2011, !launched a 15-M glossary on my hlog. Aller a brici'(looglc search. lli.lltnd three existing glossaries which I aggregated by the simple procedure ol' copying and pasting their entries in alphabetical order onto my blog. Within minutes of announcing the launch of the glossary to my T\\ ittcr I(Jilo\\crs, I received both public and pri\ ate l'ccdback. One acti\ ist suggested a minor correction. Another recommended a source that I had in l;tct already included in the glossary.;\ third activist promised to help with future dralis and asked about my prcICrrcd language. A I(Jurth acti\ ist rctwcctcd my message to her I(JIIo\\ crs. Final I;.. a filih Twitter user found that the glossary \\as too centralist' and that people outside Madrid would not be pleased with this bias. I rapidly replied that this \las merely the first \crsion ol'thc glossary and that future\ crsions would incorporate terms and experiences !'rom other parts ol' Spain. I also used the opportunity to ask all readers li.1r assistance idcnti fying other materials. As I \nile these lines a month later. the glossary continues to grow and
C\

s,, cdish Pirate

en enjoyed the prm crbial li liccn seconds of

178

f)igitul!lnthmpo!ogr

!Jigitull'olitin und l'oliticull:ngug('!ll<'lll

179

Tvvillcr litmc (cL Nalwn ct a!. 2011) when it was recommended by DRY to its 0\Cr
90.000 followers.

This !ina! instance is further proof of the participatory potential of both digital activism and digital ethnography in the current era of llm crcd entry access to the means or content creation a historical phase in \\ hich coproducing and sharing contents ha~ become a takcn-lilr-grantcd dai Iy pract icc li1r m iII ions o I' people (Chadwick 200X; Shirky 2009). I do not suggest that participation is a panacea that will resolve the deep political and economic malaise that atllicts countries such as Spain. Greece or Britain. Rather. I draw attention to the strong tit between anthropological practice and popular limns or digital participation that only a fc\\ years ago WCrC the Virtual prCSCrVC Of a [CChnorati elite. I

Conclusion
In l'cr.vonul Connections in the Digital Age. communication scholar Nancy Baym
(20 I 0) lists seven digital media variables: intcractivity. temporal structure. social

cues. storage. rcplicahility. reach and mobility. She then difkrcntiates two main types ol' online collectivity: communities and networks. This stark contrast between a rich set or technological concepts and a meagre pair of sociological concepts signals the need i(Jr anthropological studies or digital politics that borrow some or their technical terminology li01n media and communication studies whilst bringing to the field a strong track record of mapping the shilling terrain on which tcchnopolitical struggles take place. Baym 's positing or communities ami networks as the paradigmatic social l(mnations ol' the digital era is. as I argued earlier. a central katurc or digital media studies (Postill 200X). Yet relying on this odd couple li1r our social and political mapping is unwise. For one thing. both notions have had chcqucrcd careers as social scientific concepts. More importantly. the vast diversity of social and politicall(mnations I( lUnd among humans- ranging !rom prcdigitalnuclear l~m1ilies. associations and organizations at one end or the spectrum to digital-era l(mnations such as Faccbook group~. Tw iller hash tags and mobile phone contacts at the other-can hardly he captured with t\\O terms. This is akin to expecting that a team of biologists embarking on a survey of Amazonian biodiversity make do with the terms f!lunt and animal. In this chapter I have argued i(Jr an integrated approach to the study of digital politics that overcomes the tacit digital divide separating Internet and mobile phone studies whilst expanding the field's conceptual and theoretical horizons. Future anthropological studies of digital politics should avoid sterile debates about technological determinism and virtual versus real-! i rc politics and concentrate instead on the careful analysis of political processes and their digital dimensions. The devil is in the tcchnopolitical details. One neglected area or great potential i(lr future anthropological research is the study or political virals--digital contents or a political nature that spread epidemically across online platl(mns. mobile devices and litcc-to-litce settings. The study of

virals has been so litr !eli largely to marketing practitioners and IlL'\\ media gurus. and yet virals arc a mainstay ol' contemporary media em ironmcnts (Post ill ::'00.:": Wasik 2009). In the Barcelona rcscarchjust described. I encountered both campaign 1intls and v1hat \\C might call\ ira! campaigns. Examples of campaign v irals include l\\ eels'' ith catchy slogans. You Tube 1 idcos and digital photographs that arc'' ide!~ shared. But campaigns thcmsch cs can go\ ira!. For instance. in late December ::'0 I 0. tens or thousands or Spaniards mobilized 0\ crnight against the country\ political elite for attempting to pass an antidigital piracy lm1 kno1v n as LL'Y Sindc. The trigger \\as the 1oluntary shutdo\lnofSpain\ main link-sharing sites in protest at the imminent passing of the bill. which led to an outcry from millions ol' Spaniards suddenly deprived ol'thcir li11 ouritc li-ce tilms and tL'Ic1 is ion series. Three key arenas in\\ hich the drama \\as played out were Tv\ ittcr 's 'trending topics (the most popular topics at any given time). the Spanish Parliament in Madrid and the mainstream media. Although our understanding of viral campaigns is still poor. their main !Caturcs appear to include an explosive growth. social drama liminality. real-time participation. multiple online and litcc-to-Etcc arenas and intense but ephemeral llC\1 s media coverage. These campaigns raise intriguing questions about the mctlwdological challenges or studying the tcchnopolitical contexts that foster ami inhibit the spread ol' \ irals and about the extent to \lhich 1 irals strengthen or undermine public discourse. One question f(lr li.tturc research is \\hcthcr \\C arc'' itncssing the coming or an era in which political reality is lramcd by 1irally shared digital contents an age ofviral reality.'

Acknowledgements
The Malaysian and Spanish research reported here ''as li.111dcd by the Volks\v agcn Foundation through Bremen Uni1crsity and by the Open Uni1 crsit:v ol' Catalonia Foundation through the Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (INJ). rcspccti\cly. I am very gratcli.tl to these organi/ations !'or their support. I also v1ish to thank the book editors for their helpful l'ccdhack on early dralis ol'this chapter. The Malaysian materials arc adapted lr01n my hook rocoli::ing the lntcrnc/: An .-lnthmtJo/ogicu/ .lccotml ( Herghahn Books. 20 I I ).

Notes
I.

In this and subsequent subheadings I ha\L' retained Chad\vick\ (2006) helpful explanatory key\\ ords in parentheses. It is telling of the ethnographic method that the political anthropologist AlcxandcrT Smith (personal communication. 22 May 2006) and I independently coined the term 'banal acti1ism' v1ithin a fcv1 months ol'cach other in Smith\ case \\ hilst conducting licld\\ ork among ( 'onscn ali\ c I' arty supporters in Scotland.

180 !Jigitol A nthropnlog\'

/)igitul l'olitics und /'oliticull~llgugen/<'111 181

3. 4.
5.

Bill Flanders and Anthony Briggs arc also pseudonyms (sec Arnold d al. 200S). For an extended discussion of how to map participation in online contexts, sec Fish d al. (2011 ). On the diiTusion of v ira I information through the political blogosphcrc, sec Nahon ct at. ( 20 II).

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Swartz. D. Jl)lJ7. Cultul"c and /'oinT The Sociologr of l'icrrc Hmmlieu. Chicago: University ol' Chicago l'rcss. Swaru, D .. V. Turner and A. Tudcn. eds. Jl)(l(J. l'olilical Anthm;)()/ogr. Chicago: Aldine. Tenhunen, S. 2001\. Mobile Technology in the Village: IC.Ts. Culture. and Social Logistics in India . .Journal of the Rom! .lnthm;wlogical lnllilule (.\'nr Scl"ics) 14: 515 34. Turner. V. W. 1974. /Jmmm. Field1 and .\felitjilwn: Sunholic ole/ion in lltmwn Societr. Ithaca. NY: Cornell University l'ress. Venkatesh. M. 2003. The Community Net\\ork Lifccycle: A Frame11urk !'or Research and Action. Jnjimnulion Socicl\" 19: 339 47. Wasik. B. 2009. /Inc/ Then Thcl"c .'1 lJ1is: 1/rn\ Stol"ics U1c und /)ic in Vim/ Cultul"e. Ne11 York: Viking Press. Webster. 1. 1995. lhcol"ics o/tlw Jnjimnution Socictr. London: Routledge. Wellman. IL ct al. 2003. The Social Af"l(lrdanccs ol' the Internet l\1r Net\\orkcd Individualism. Journal o/ ( 'ontJIII/ci"-Mcdiutcd C'onnnunicalion X(3 ). http://jcmc. ind iana.ed u/vo IX/ issud/11 c llman. ht mI. Yong. J.S.L. 2003. Malaysia: Advancing Public Administration into the lnl(lrmation Age. In J~"-Gmc,nmcnl in ,/sia: l~nuhling l'uh/ic Scnice lnno\ution in the 2/s/ ('en/tilT. cd . .I.S.L. Yong. 175 203. Singapore: Times.

-9Free Software and the Politics of Sharing


Jelena Karanovic'

The study of solhvarc C:\tends a long-standing anthropological intncst in "the imponderabilia ol' actual li/C" (Malimmski 1922: 20). From cell phones to social nct\\orking platl(mns. soli\\ arc is the mundane infrastructure ol' the daily li1cs ol' people \lorldwidc. In the shape of search engines. mapping tools and databases. it is centra I to the rcorgan izing ol' mcd ia c:\pcricnccs ( Bm1 h'r and Star 1999: f'vl iller ct a I. 2005: Scholz 200X: Stalder and Mayer 20()l)). Court cases. pedagogical guidelines and polemics about sharing lilms. music and tc\ts online suggest that much remains open-ended with respect to acceptable uses ol'digitalmcdia. Yet the politics of digital inliastructurc is olicn elided by the assumption or promiSe ol' access on market terms (Ginsburg 200X ). Free soli ware ( FS) olfcrs a cogent entry into struggles m cr meanings ol' sharing that. in turn. arc key to contentions about the appropriate legaL economic and technical framc11 orks l(lr digital media. From the \\ cb hnm scr l'vhl/illa Fircltl\ to the hlogging platl(mn Word Press. free soliwarc contradicts the assumption that proper!) rights arc necessary as a motivation l(lr making sophisticated and inno\ ati\c digital media. Each FS project encompasses soli11 arc code as'' ell as a licence that ensures that all users have the right to study. modify. cop) and redistribute the solh1 arc. These rights make FS distinct limn JlmJil"iL'Iol"\" 1ojimll"c, \\hose modilication and distribution arc restricted by copyright. FS enthusiasts arc scnsiti1 c about seemingly arcane technical matters such as the choice of soliwarc platl(mns. legal licences. data l\mm1ts and technological standards. In this chapter. I arguL" that. by studying how these putatil'cly spcciali/cd issues matter in daily contc,ts. anthropologists can address questions about (politicaL legaL technological and societal) choices that arc routinely muted in discussions of digital media. I proceed by sur\'cying ho\\ anthropologists ha1c contributed to understanding the utopian premises of li-ce soli\\ arc. I then rely on the lens of ethnography to make l\\O related points: First. I c'plorc accounts of FS dc1 clopns to scrutini/c the notion of "hacker ethic" that has animated many studies of free and open-source snlh1 arc. Ethnographic accounts suggest that it is not only hackers" passion l\1r \\Tiling and sharing code hut also pedagogical and legal apprenticeship that arc key to making high-quality soli ware through (almost entirely) unpaid \ oluntary \\ ork. On the

185

186

/)igital /ln!hropologr

Free So/11\W"c and the l'o/itics of Shuring

187

one hand, hackers may reshape media circulation: on the other hand. media change, and especially legal claims and technical contexts of soli ware may create pressures i(Jr new l(mns of hacker engagement. Second, I argue that analyses of FS ha\ c so l~tr highlighted a l'cw strategic campaigns while obscuring the daily practices that sustain FS projects around the world. I expand the horizon of actors and practices that count in analyse~ of FS to address some dilemmas of participation in FS as a movement. Drawing on my ethnographic \\ork in France in 2004 5, I focus on one group of girlliicnds and wives of French FS acti\ ists who have employed their soil ware and web-publishing skills to create an homage to the daily travails of 1icc soil ware development and advocacy. The final section or this chapter presents some preliminary thoughts of how struggles over soil\\ arc may matter to anthropologists interested in understanding the changing practices of media production, COnsumption und distribution.

The Utopian Challenges of Free Software


Since the late I 990s, the conceptual and legal liamcworks or FS have served as a prime example I(Jr debates about the growth in commodification and regulation of the Internet. Critical legal scholars have posited 1:s as a challenge to corporate cfrorts to radically privatize the Internet and enforce a scarcity-based market in information through soli ware protocols (Boyle 1996; Lessig 1999; Zittrain 200X). These critical accounts rest on conceptual dichotomies of free soft\\ arc to gi\ c salience to the wider legal and societal stakes in technological choices. Anthropologists ha\ c joined this debate by highlighting the hybrid nature of FS projects which ollcn blur conceptual dichotomies (Kelty 200X): FS licences arc olicn interpreted as a subversion of copyright and the ideology or romantic authorship, yet they rely on copyright to guarantee users' rights (Boyle 1996). Much orthc rhetoric surrounding FS and 'the commons' shares with corporate capitalism and ncolibcralism the notions or property, creativity and freedom (Coombe and IIerman 2004 ). Wh ilc FS Iiccnccs i(Jstcr nonproprietary distribution or soli ware, they do not prohibit commerce, and many FS contributors encourage and rely on the support of businesses, blurring the contrast between FS and market-oriented proprietary soli ware production ( Bcnklcr 2006: Lessig 1999). Tracing some of these derivations, Kelty (200X) has argued that FS dcn:lopcrs aim to reform, rather than overthrow, the contemporary constellation of markets, law and technical inliastructurc that shape the meanings or software. Large-scale FS projects, such as lkbian, involve thousands of contributors\\ ho volunteer their time and ski lb. l.conomists and organizational theorists spearheaded research into the motivations of FS developers who put their time and energy into making soil ware that then is given away ((ihosh I 99X: Tirole and Lerner 2002: Von llippcl 2005). Early analyses suggested that developers arc driven by a competition i(Jr prestige (Cihosh I 99X: Raymond 200 I) or career concerns (Tirolc and Lerner
1

2002). In an inllucntial contribution to this debate, political scientist Stc\ en Weber argued that solh\arc is a 'network good' that is its \aluc increases as more people usc it, as it is implemented on diverse platl(mns and as it becomes accepted as a standard (Weber 2004: 154). Online distribution or code enables many di\crsc actors to contribute to FS: even though only a small liaction of FS users contribute to soliwarc code. the gigantic user base encompasses many inlL'rcstcd and skilled developers. Taking into account a range of moti\ at ions among FS de\ elopers. Kelt:;. (200X) has nc\erthcless singled out de\ elopers concern \\ ith access and modifiability of sotiwarc. This concern makes it possible to understand solh\ arc de\ clopmen! as a l(mn or collective engagement \\ith existing technicaL legal and market conlig:urations. Kelty denotes this multiprong l(mn of public engagement by the term rccursi1c 1mhlic: 'a public that is vitally concerned \\ith the material and practical maintenance and modification of the technicaL legaL practicaL and conceptual means of its own existence as a public' (Kelly 200X: 3 ). By delineating the construct of a recursive public in FS and affiliated fields, Kelty"s \\ork seeks to expand assumptions about public speech and political engagement: he analyses practices of soli ware development alongside more conventional acti\ itics of discussion. alh ocacy and \Oting. FS has also catalyzed debates about the possibilities that the Internet ofl"crs for efficient and cost less coordination. In particular, the de\ clopmcnt of the Linux kernel in the 1990s inspired research into ho\\ FS volunteers coordinate online to produce objects that. in many aspects, ri\al or C\ en surpass industrially made professional soliwarc.' Here there arc two main directions of research: The lirst one grounds FS in an ethics of access to information. liccdom of c:..prcssion and passionate pursuit or projects valued by peers, all emergent in the transnational communities of hackers and their daily practices (Himancn 2001: Jordan and Taylor 2004: Juris 2005). Hackers arc here understood as tinkerers\\ hose association is dri\ en by digital networks. The second body of research epitomizes FS de\ elopers' practices as a model or decentralized, nonproprietary peer production made possible through digital networks (cL Bcnklcr 2006). While both of these approaches suggest that distributed in\cntion rests on llcxible networks. abundance of resources and indi\ iduals freely choosing the projects in which they invest their time. their understandings of the agency afforded by the nct\\ork may be m erly limited. Distributed ill\ cntinn is not a novel phenomenon, nor is it unique to computing. nor is it dependent on the Internet (Ghosh 2005: Noyes 2009). As Noyes (2009) has argued, \ crnacular ill\ cntion also depends on a network of people and things. yet is shaped by scarcity of resources. inflexibility or social tics and enforced inacti\ ity that is olicn accompanied by boredom or tiustration. Furthermore. some or these vernacular dimcnsinns nfthc net\\ ork arc arguably at work among: FS developers. For example. Born ( 1996) has l(nmd that computer researchers at IRCAM shared utopian ideals of collaborati\c authorship that sub\ crtcd commodilication. coil\ cntional copyright and the institutional power of IRCAM mer their solh\arc. In practice. this sometimes entailed keeping:

188 Digital /1nlhrojJO!ogr

Free Sojil!W'<' und the l'olitic.l o/Shuring 189

the software on a computer disconnected Jiom IRCAM\ network. obfuscating the software code by neglecting to write comments or documentation and in general 'preferring to accrue research capital by circulating Isoli ware I via the international network to other selected computer music and research centres' (Born 1996: 113 ). In this case. the ethic of distributed authorship went hand-in-hand with patronage. .Joining the discussion about the novelty oiTS. anthropologists have forcgroundcd continuities in the Jicc soil ware ideals of li-ccdom and individual power. which build upon long-standing liberal debates about scllhood. property. creativity. gO\ crnancc and the place of the market in social life (cr. Coleman 20 I Oa: Coleman and (ioluh 200X: Kelty 200X: Leach. Nali.1s and Krieger 2009). As Miller and Horst point out in the introduction to this hook. the analytic usc of the term lihcra!i.1m encompasses clashing interpretations of the term. While in the United States. invocations of liberalism ollcn rcl'cr to Jell-wing social agendas. in Europe the term is more troubled and denotes laisscz-fairc economic policies and US right-wing social agendas. FS activists arc aware of such clashing interpretations and skilfully usc them to clarify their own objectives. One especially\ ibrant interpretation by a French activist argued that li-ce soil ware could 'tame the devouring and devastating names of freedom in order to conserve their warmth. To counter liberal l~maticism with love of a calorific form [that] takes care of its embers and knows how to grapple with what it consumes' (Moreau 2005: 15. my translation). The metaphor of tempering the flames of li-ccdom was here in explicit opposition to US president George W. Bush\ celebrations of unfettered freedom. Anthropological attention to continuities of liberal ideals in FS helps counter claims---common in the broader literature on li-ce soli ware -about epochal effects on human crcativ ity and governance or specific technologies (i.e. the spread or the Internet) or laws (e.g. Digital Millennium Copyright Act). Yet. as Coleman points out. 'continuity of liberal traditions docs not mean sameness' (Coleman 2004: 511 ). It may be helpful to remember that debates about the Internet in the 1990s questioned whether online connections were real and \\ hcthcr it was possible to commercialize online transactions (cL Marcus 1996). So a reinvention orlibcral tenets -in practices and languages of programming- may be a more apt term than continuity. As explained in more detail below, IS developers arc arguably the most invested among hackers in rcl'ormulating 'liberal social institutions. legal formulations and ethical precepts' (Coleman and Golub 200X: 267). Yet the possibilities for uniting technological practices and political objectives vary in time and place. Whereas in the United States, the priority may lay in claiming that soil ware is a form of speech, in the European Union, the priority may be in finding national political allies to contest the common-sense link bct\vccn sollwarc and technology. For another example, being an FS developer in France in the early 2000s meant ha\ing to read l-:nglish on a daily basis. lnsulllcicnt knowledge of English prevented people from finding help in installing and using FS. For this reason. translating documentation was as important as coding or helping other people install FS on their computers. Furthermore,

translation encompassed not only technical documentation hut also \ arious practical manuals. opinions and answers on online l'orums. So hcinll im oh cd in global FS debates and projects also meant being thoroughly and constantly oriented to\\ards French interlocutors (whether political parties. user associations or media) (Karallll\ ic 200X). Thus. the spccilics of time and place arc especially important for understanding hmv activists can rely on technical language and practices to pursue diverse political attachments. At the same time. many 1:s de\ elopers in France and elsewhere !'eel ambiYalcnt about forcgrounding the national contexts ol' their activities (cl'. Takhtcycv 2009). Regional and national in1lcctions of FS then rene\\ the currency of anthropological remark that acti\ ism around a global medium can simultaneously accomplish a \ aricty of projects (cL (iinsburg. Abu-l.ughod and Larkin 2002 ). FS ideals of li-ce access and modifiability haH' been ntcndcd into other liclds. notably in the li-ce online encyclopaedia Wikipcdia, open access journals such as Public Library of Science, music labels such as Magnatunc and .lamcndo and C\ en social networking sites ( Diaspora ). Chris Kc lty has been a particu larl: relentless interlocutor on the ways in which FS could sene as an inspiration for transf(mning anthropological publishing and teaching.' Since 2005. the expansion of FS principles into other llclds has been eclipsed by a tro\ c of businesses that combine social networking features with possibilities l'l1r users to upload. share and comment on the networked content. Typically these platf(mns :dim\ users to access the content Jicc of charge, but media makers ha\ c no access to anything comparable to source code in soil ware. For this reason, reuse and rc\\ orking of content on these platforms (sometimes known as Web 2.0) resemble FS only in a generic sense of sh:1ring and de sen c analysis in their 0\\ n right. For example.\ ideo bloggcrs and other subgroups usc YouTubc to build social connections by exchanging\ idcos and commenting on each other's \\ork (Burgess 200X: cf'. .Jenkins 200(1: .Juhasz 2011: Lange 200X). At the same time. users' videos arc also commodities that YouTuhc uses to sene marketers (Burgess and Green 2009: Ciillcspic 20 I 0). Millions of Internet users around the world have become adept at downloading and uploading tiles on peer-to-peer nctv\ orks, and some artists arc embracing online circulation of their recordings free of charge (Future of Music Coalition 2007: Rodman and Vandcrdonckt 2006 ). Yet the insistence on users' rights to legally modi f) and rcdistributL'. kc; to FS. seems to be an increasingly minor concern in the cffusi\c gnmth of sharing and rcpurposing cultural J(mns online.

Rethinking the Hacker Ethic


The term huckcrs lirst came into\\ ide circulation in the early I9XOs. denoting tinkerers \\ho \\ere enthusiastic about computers (Lc\y I9X4: Turkle 19X4). One of the most innucntial accounts washy journalist Stc\ en Lc\y. \\ lw portrayed three cohorts

190 !Jig ito/. 1nthmjwlogr

1-'rcc So/tm11, uud the l'olilicl o(Shuring 191

of hackers from the late llJ.'iOs to 19XOs and argued that they shared a set ofpraeticcs that he named the 'hacker ethic' (Lny 19X4). The principles of the hacker ethic included sharing code, promoting decentralization, ha\ing access to computers and code in order to improve the code and using computers to imprm c the\\ oriel. Levy's account suggests that liTe ~on ware is a l~tithful incarnation of the hacker ethic. He describes the t(JLIIldcr of free soli ware, Richard Stallman, as 'the last of the true hackers' due to Stallman's commitment to preserve the hacker ethic in computing despite the growing clout or business that restricted the sharing or solh\ arc and disinterest among his peers\\ ho moved on to other ventures. By the mid-llJXOs, the treatment or hackers in the media already had a negative \ alencc and was associated with potentially criminal exploits. Levy\ account t(Jrgcd a distinct identity that countered these ncgati\ c stereotypes, although the term hacking is still used to denounce a\\ ide variety of acts tiom \\ histlehlmving to corporate crime. Otherwise, his exploration of di ITcrcnccs \\as subdued, C\ en though he noted that hacker~ did not necessarily agree on \\hat makes one a hacker and \\ hcthcr hacking encompassed practices such as transgression and breaking into computer sy,;tcms, which were overblown in the media. Morcm cr, although the hacker ethic postulated that giving <may cmk \\as key to being a hacker, hackers held di\crgcnt stances on the t'rcc distribution orint(mnation. llistorian Fred Turner writes that participants at the first llackcrs' Cont'crcncc, shortly alter Lc\ y's hook was published, 'by and large ... agreed that the rrcc dissemination of information \\aS a worthy ideaL but in some cases, it was clearly only an ideal' (Turner 200(1: 2(13 ). Along with a small group of countcrcultural entrepreneurs and journalists, by the mid-llJl)Os, hackers symbolized 'the liberated information worker', who mixed cutting-edge technology skills, creativity and entrepreneurship (Turner 2006: 259). Making liTe soli\\ arc \\as, increasingly, only one option among diverse business models that hackers pursued. The successful commercialization of free soli ware services in the late ll)lJOs inspired numerous intellectuals to rethink the contrasts, well established in FS as\\ ell as in the hacker ethic, betv\ccn proprietary and shared inl(mnation. An influential elaboration of the hacker ethic ti01n the dot-com era argued that the main 'ethical dilemma litcing businesses in the new int(mnation economy' is that proprietary int(mnation (key to money-making) is dependent on publicly available information (gained through research) ( llimancn 200 I: 59). FS hackers and their norms of distributing rather than owning int(mnation, llimancn argued, led the way in realizing 'a ticc market economy in \\ hich COilliK'tition would not be based on controlling int(mnation but on other l~tdors' (60). llimancn's analysis relics upon a 1\:w well-known free soliwardopcn-sourcc hackers and alliliatcd groups: Linus Torv aids, Eric Raymond, Richard Stallman, the Electronic Frontier Foundation and the Internet Society. What makes FS (rchrandcd 'open source' by a vocal set of activists and business owners) hackers distincti1c in hi~ vic\\ is that they lind passionate interest and joy in their 1\ork and prioritize the 'recognition within a community

that shares their passion' bci(Jrc the pursuit ofnwnc::. as an end in ihclr(llimancn 200 I: .'i I). Anthropologists have been much more inclined to C'\plorc the heterogeneity or hacker practices (Coleman 2012: Coleman and (iolub 200X: Lin 2007). One strategy has been to pursue a more comprchcnsi\ c categorization of hackers. Coleman and Ciolub (200X) ha1c identified two ethical codes that hackers in tilL' llnited Stales acknowledge in addition to li-ce solil\arc: proponents orcryptoticcdom' arc concerned with prcscn ing users' pri1acy by putting encryption tools 11 ithin the reach or the public, 1vhile 'the hacker underground' has adopted transgression as a l(mn or political critique. The concern with preserving the rights of' users to legallv cop}, edit and distribute tiles which is central to ticc solil1arc but muted in cry ptoliccdom and tht: hacker underground has led some I-'S hackers to t'ccl ambi\ alent or outright opposed to networks that oft'cr dm1 nloading or the lakst commercial music and tilms, making users clearly\ ulnerable to prosecution. The (sometimes uneasy) coc'\islcncc or three ethical codes is key to understanding heterogeneous progeny or hacking that ranges t101n ticc solh1arc to online subcultures ot'trolling (Coleman 2012). Another approach rc\ isitcd the history or FS hacking and longer-term dc1 clopmcnts that, by the early 19XOs, came to be recognized as the hacker cth1c. Kelt: (200X) has traced live distinct genealogies that con\ crgcd in the late I 'NOs around FS: the practices of' sharing source code. writing soil ware licences that sub\ crt copyright, coordinating numerous contributors, aligning di\crse actors arnund competing concepts of openness and discussing the principles or ticc sot\11 arc. Kelt) has also reinterpreted the origin story or FS by arguing that the creation or the best h.nm1 n FS licence, CiNU CiPL had less to do\\ ith the hacker cthiL' and more to do 11 ith historically specific concerns such as the genealogy or technical contributions to the text editor I~MACS and the uncertain legal status ot'sotil1arc in the carl) l<iX(k Along similar lines, Kelty has argued that the pract1ccs or sharing source code in 1:s \\LTC not de\ eloped in opposition to dominant business habits but 11 LTC rooted in a series or hybrid relationships ('quasi-commerciaL quasi-academic. net\\ orked. and planetlvidc') that computer researchers have grm1 n accustomed to in the pro! i t'cration of UNIX distributions (Kelty 200X: 141 ). Hackers, a priori imcstcd in exploring the possibilities or digital media, may be especially predisposed to experiment\\ ith the blurring or technological practices and political speech. Usually the relationship bct\ICcn hacking amlno\cl forms of' public engagement is broached in one direction only. For example theorists or nct11 orkcd peer production tend to l(lcus on the question ot'lul\1 netl\orks of' peers, usually seen as animated by principles or the hacker ethic. may reshape media-making and circulation (ct'. Bcnkler 200(1). But the ethnographic 11ork discussed in this sCL'tion raises a possibility that has so litr rccci\cd less attention: that changL'S in technological contexts (e.g. the selling of a social networking platt(mn) and legal claims Ill <I) create pressures t(Jr new t(mns or hacker engagement. This issue 11 as most direct!; addressed by Coleman (200lJ) as shcju'\taposL'd an account ot'high-prolile legal battles

192 /Jigitu/ ;lnthmJ!ologr

Free Sojimtre und tfte l'olitics o(S//(/ring 193


about US software patents. the European Patent Ollicc and C\ en the\ tlling habib ol' M EPs ( Karanovic 20 I 0). The close allcntion to actors and contexts mailers in undcp;tanding \\ h~ FS de\ elopers embrace specific practices and representations. For example in response to two high-profile arrests of hackers in I<N9 and 2003 !'or publishing allcg:cdly illegal soli\\ arc. US-based fl-ee soli ware programmers asserted that soli\\ arc
\I

(and hackers' understandings or them) \\ith hackers' everyday means or tinkering with technology, interpreting law and developing ethical precepts. Ethnographic accounts have also suggested several means hy which FS hackers learn and reclaim links between teclmology, law and ethics. Some FS projects, such as Dehian, have explicit ethical guidelines and social contracts that developers discuss in the process ofjoining the project (Coleman and Hill2004). Coleman and Hill have argued that as lkhian developers become proficient in de\ eloping code and in discussing the implications or Ikhian sofiware licence and policies, they also de\ Clop a commitment to information flccdom. The implication is that pedagogical and legal apprenticeship is key to both distributed authorship and shared ethical precepts. Voting systems, such as in the Apache project, arc also key to distributed authorship. hen the Linux project, Kelty has argued, owes its success to 'Linus Ton aids's pedagogical embedding in the world of UN I X, Minix. the Free Sofiwarc Foundation. and the Uscnct' (Kelty 2001\: 215 ). Furthermore, although scholars and hackers themselves consider online/mediated interactions to constitute the key sites fi.1r work and socializing, the growth of conkrcnccs and yearly meetings gives hackers another important venue fi.1r developing and intensifying vibrant commitments and a sense or community (Coleman 20 I Oh ). ( 'olcman writes, 'the advent of networked hacking should not he thought or as a displacement or replacement or physical interaction. These two modes silently hut powerfully rcinf(H-cc each other' (Coleman 20 I Oh: 49). Coleman focuses on large-scale yearly com cntions. but the same argument could include workshops, install parties, talks and inf(mnal gatherings.

as a l(mn

or public speech. Furthermore. they era lied the link hct\1 ccn soli\\ arc and speech by writing code in the l(mn of haiku and cmphasi;ing its c.'.prcssi\ c possibilities (Coleman 2009). /\round the same time. some ol' the participants on the (icrmanlanguagc mailing list Ockonux, commillcd to discussing social implications or ilcc soliwarc, found the concepts or cooperation and exchange to he
O\

crly simplistic

when denoting their practices in 11-cc soliwarc and similar projects (lo\ink 2003). Ethnographic accounts of the cxpansi\ c sociality oiTS also suggest another\\ ay of thinking about the (utopian) uni\crsality ol' 11-cc soli\\ are: anyone is ill\ itcd to contribute. If taken seriously, this widens the scope or research beyond gccks and hackers. Kelty writes that the circle or FS users and potential contributors before 1991\ was limited to people in high-technology hubs \vho 'got it": this 'made it possible t(Jr r the ethnographer I to travel !'rom Boston to Berlin to Bangalorc and pick up an ongoing conversation with dil'krcnt people, in\ cry di!Tcrcnt places.\\ ithout missing a heat' (Kelty 200X: 20). Nc\\ participants ha\c ah1ays been \lclcomc to FS. but in the early 2000s they came ll01n a wider geographical and social range. This has inflected the scope. practice and ideals associated\\ ith FS. For example Perm ian FS activists\\ ere willing to engage l(mnal political representatives and link notions of citizens' political rights to the adoption of FS in their national administration. As

The Expansive Sociality of Free Software


So f~1r, I have sketched how cthnographics of FS hackers and gccks ha\ c qualified or challenged some gcncralintions about FS. However, their limited horizonfocusing solely on FS developers raises questions about the meanings of FS among other groups, in other times and places. It im itcs an exploration of the global variation in 'recursive publics' (Kelty 2001\) or 'network good' (Weber 2004). In my ethnographic study of FS advocacy in France, I l(lllnd that FS advocacy is affected by national labour laws and nongovernmental organizations, linguistic ditlcrcnccs, the availability or high-speed Internet access and contingent phenomena such as European Union integration or national revision of authorship law (cf. Karanovic 2001\). Ethnographies here can contribute an understanding of the daily activities that constitute engagement with sofiwarc beyond a small number of very well known and studied projects. In the campaign against software patents in the European Union, FS activists wrote software but also planned protest actions, organized talks and con!Crcnccs, talked to members or the Furopcan Parliament (MEl's), streamed and transcribed debates at the European Commission and published activist documents

a result, public debates about FS in Peru were less influenced by considerations ol' technical strength or economic ad\antagcs than 'the rccodability ol' political and civic bodies' (Chan 2004: 535). At the same time, the high-profile adoption oi'FS in the Brazilian public sector was led by experts \\ ho cndca\ ourcd to challenge nco1ibcral assumptions about technology- and intellectual property dri\ en cconom ic growth (Shaw 20 II). European FS advocates ill\ oh cd in the campaign against software patents decried the common-sense association ol' soli\\ arc \\ ith technology. As they became liun i Iiar with E U pol icymak ing around soli\\ arc patents. many acquired a critical <m arcncss of their Luropcan citi;cnship. For this reason, debates about sofiwarc patents shed light not only on FS in the b1ropcan Union but also on competing\ is ions of the h1ropcan Union (Karanovic 20 I 0). Furthermore. an ethnographic purvic\\ may shed light on some dilemmas or gcndcred participation in the FS movement. FS alh ocatcs \\ orld\1 ide ha\ c l(lr sc\era I years been concerned about the low participation ol' \\omen and the absence or women\ voices in FS projects (Ghosh ct al. 2002: Lin 2005). The existence of SC\cral projects, such as Dcbian Women and LinmChix, that explicitly aim to increase the participation oi'\\Oillcn de\ elopers qualities the assertion that an egalitarian and

194 !Jigital Anthrujwlogr

r
I

Free Sofimm und the l'olitin o/Sharing 195


Annabelle did rccci\ cone e-mail from a gay man\\ ho offered to contribute articles f(Jr the website. He ollcn !(lund himself adopting the strategies presented on copinedegcek.com in dealing\\ ith his geck partner. There was no article dc\otcd to defining a gcck girlfriend. hut the site made fun of a certain \ision of !Cmininity: it \\as designed in \arious shades of pink. decorated with red hearts and smiley l~tcc:' and orlcrcd funny psychological sun

mcritocratic imagination precludes thinking about gender imparity among dc\Tiopcrs (Leach et al. 200tJ). I proceed to describe hm\ a small group of women cataly;cd debates about gender and participation in FS projects. although not entirely on terms of their own choosing. My account here is based on website analysis. interviews and twenty-month participant observation. in 2004 and 2005. among\ oluntary associations promoting FS in France. The term geck (pronounced gik or ;:hik) comes li0111 English and was populari;:ed among French FS advocates via copincdcgcck.com (which translates as "gcckgirllriend.com" ). a '' cbsite created and maintained by romantic partners of se\ era I French software advocates betw cen 2002 and 2005. Two of the website founders worked in a Parisian web-hosting company with gcndered divisions of labour and technological platforms. The two women. Annabelle and Elsa. were the only women employees in the company. and both worked in marketing. Their male colleagues all worked on technical support and used free solhvarc. The two \\omen first heard of free software during lunch conversations with coworkers and then read free sollware magcvincs. looked at wcbsites of li-ce sollware associations and visited the booths at the main free soil ware convention in Paris.;\ lew months later. both women found themselves dating licc soli ware developers. and they noticed that conversations with their dates resembled their lunchtime con\ersations with coworkers. This inspired them to create a website that would draw out these similarities in a humorous way. Annabelle bought a domain name ( copincdcgcck.com). and a team of six women launched the site in May 2002. The mission statement positioned the website as foremost a result of years of experience ofli\ ing with a licc soil ware gcck". Texts and images on the site presented. and made fun oL various stereotypes associated'' ith lree soil ware developers. under the umbrella term of geeks. For example the photo-stories featured corporate computer industry bosses. ambitious corporate employees and girllricnds alongside lree software developers. I tumorous lirsthand testimonials discussed geek diet. sense of time. dress style. importance of machines. vocabulary and holidays. all presented from the perspective of a girllriend talking to another woman. The "Geck Fair" section resembled a dating website; it had personal prolilcs as well as sorting. searching and messaging leatures. Some profiles read Iike personal ads. and
SC\ era I

c: s and

virtual greeting cards. The top banner !Catured mascots of dif!Crcnt licc solh\ arc projects. which are usually shown single- but. on the banner. each mascot'' as kissing. holding hands or looking at a counterpart of its kind. Less ob\ ious to a casual eye is that the women designed the website using licc solhvarc programmes only. Furthermore. the site\ content \\as licensed thrnugh a FS-style licence \\hich indicated. "this document can be reproduced by any means if it is not modi lied and if this note is attached" ( copincdcgeck.com 2002a). The specifics of time and place matter for understanding ho\\ these caricatures became a key Francophone site l\.1r understanding gccks at the turn oft\\ cnty-first century. Many French Internet prokssionals at the time eagerly read books by communication theorists. curious about hm\ FS might contribute to rc;tli;ing \\hat they saw as the revolutionary social potential of the Internet (KaraJlll\ ic ~Oml). Annabelle\ sources of inspiration included funny and olkn ollcnsi\c French online l(muns---comparable to today\ ..J.chan--that made fun of Internet enthusiasts. Most French FS de\ elopers. advocates and enthusiasts \\ere organi;:cd through voluntary associations. In contrast to copincdegcck.com. FS associations in France had very few women members and abstained li01n geck imagery. The term that most FS advocates preferred for their engagement \\as militant (ad\ ocate). Within a broader constellation of terms that arc used in France to denote publ1c engagement.

militant implied enthusiasm. abstaining liom radicalism and acti\ c engagement\\ ith
people who were unl~uniliar with FS issues. Aiming to broaden the range of people interested in free sol! ware. FS advocates cmphasi/cd a sense of social purpose in contrast to imagery of gceks as asocial technophiles or gadget consumns. Some advocates readily atlirmcd that they \\ere not gccks. that their organi;ations ''ere not limited to technical specialists and that li-ce solh\ arc should be accessible to anyone. democratically. When preparing public presentations or stalling booths at public c\ ents. FS associations members \\ere instructed to a\ oid using computer jargon. being glued to the computer screen and. abm call. showing the command'' imh)\\ or source code to nc\\-comcrs. Displaying these specific traits \\as reputed to scare the non computer-sa\ vy visitors. The\ isihility ofcopincdegcek.com caricatures cataly;ed discussions about desirable engagements that advocates aimed to foster around licc soli\\ arc. Sc\ era I FS advocates eritici;:cd the gcndcrcd caricatures on \\ hich copincdegcck.com stories thri\cd. Mircillc. one of the most outspoken critics. found that the site discouraged \\omen technical \\orkcrs. because it positioned women in the role ol' assistants to men. who were technicians. Mircilk !~teed these stereotypes in her daily \\ork as
<1\\

couples

met through these personals. But more ollcn. people made new friends; for example men who were habitually very shy used this platform to tind partners !'or in-line skating rounds in Paris. 1 In my interview with i\nnabcllc. she explained that she had conceived of copinedegcck.com as a website made by women !'or women. intending to make them and their partners laugh. Yet the site rapidly took oiT in a direction that eclipsed her intentions. The majority ol' visitors were men who were trying to understand. in i\nnabclk\ words. "the way in which women saw gccks".' These men visitors found humorous caricatures to be an adequate framework for thinking about gender and technology. Gccks were. on this website. assumed to be heterosexual men. although

a::.

196 !Jigita/ Anthm;wlogr

technical assistant in an FS company: \\ hcnc\ cr she picked up the phone, the client assumed that she was a secretary. Mircillc adopted the (grammatically masculine) title of tcclmicicn (rather than tcchnicicnnc, a neologism that \\ould be visibly marked as feminine) in an attempt to fight harmfi.d stereotypes of gender and technology. The texts on copincdcgcck.com, she f(nmd, also stereotyped men FS developer~

Free So/lttwe uud !lie

l'olitic.~

o(Siwring 197

\\Ork with voluntary associations. lor e:~:ample, Edith and her partner\\ ere trained as computer scientists and had been ardent supporters oi' FS in their t\\ cntics. I met Edith in her early thirties. At our first meeting, she adeptly dre\\ logos of\ arious FS projects (animwt.r/i;tichcs) into my notebook and c:~:plaincd theirs~ mbolism. along \\ ith the principles of FS. She had recently gi\ en birth to her daughter. and both she and her partner had since stopped their ad\ ocacy acti\ itics, because most oi' their time was occupied by their \\ork and l~tmily af'f:tirs. Copincdcgeck.com ofkred a means f(lr Edith to continue keeping in touch\\ ith her liicmk Still other FS advocates found copincdcgcek.com to he an e:~:prcssion of the playful spirit of FS and a shm\casc f(lr an increased presence of \\Omen in ad\ ocacy. Vera, a financial consultant and f(mncr president of a local FS organi;ation, lo\ cd arriving at professional IT conventions and seeing the copincdegcck.com booth,\\ hich she saw as 'full oi'womcn interested in Fs. Finally, at least one copinedcgeck.com contributor sa\\ the\\ cbsitc in a more c:~: pansive light, as a platform f(lr talking about \\omen's firsthand c:~:pcricnccs \\ith FS. Irene contributed a tc:~:t that adopted the vic\vpoint of her daughter. The tc:~:t narrated how a girl \\ atchcd her mother type amL afterwards. started pressing the keyboard keys herself and made an astonishing mess that occupied her mother l(lr a long time aficrwards. Irene was\ cry proud of her contribution, \\ hich portrayed computers in an all-women contc:~:t and reclaimed copincdegcck.com as the prime platt(mn l(lr \\omen\ \\ riting about li-ce software. Copincdegcek.com \\as simultaneously marginal and central to FS ad\ ocacy in France. The women who embraced the moniker gcck girlfriend\\ ere. to a great
c:~:

as inept social beings.

I have f~tccd a similar set of stereotypes regarding gender and technical skills in negotiating my participant observation. For example, my presence at public events increased the number of women, which defied stereotypes of li-ce soft\\ arc being a men\ domain but often rcinf(lrccd other stereotypes, notably those about gender and technical mastery. This became clear during the Luropean IT Week f~tir, when I spent three days at the free software booth wearing a badge that identified me as 'exhibitor'. When someone asked me a question and I could not ans\\ cr it in embarrassment, I tried to switch my badge to one that said 'visitor'. Mario, an FS ach ocate who was at the booth with me, said I didn't have to worry about it too much: if I did not know the answer, I could just ask someone. But I did not ''ant to reinf(lrce the impression that women were at the booth solely in order to attract visitors and that the knowledgeable people were men. Despite fi:eling uncomf(lrtable, I decided to stay at the booth in the interest of my research. On another occasion, I asked the organizing board of the local Parisian 1.-S voluntary association whether I couldjoin its mailing list. In response, the association invited me to join the board. A board m~.:m ber explained that the association was considering applying f(Jr some public funds, and the presence of at least one woman on the organizing board \\ ould increase its chances of obtaining the fi.tnding. Again, in the interest of my research, I accepted the role. (The association did not submit the application f(Jr funding.) An anonymous article on copincdegcek.com addressed some criticisms. The article stated that the creators of the site were interested in creative uses of computers: they installed FS operating systems on their computers and used them f(lr daily work: they understood and could engage many debates about the bcnclits and drawbacks of specific FS programmes. The conclusion was, 'If the words "software," "hard disk," "motherboard" give you nausea ... it\ not obvious that you could be a gcck girlfriend' (copinedegeek.com 2002b). In other words, the text suggested, copinedegeek.com offered one means of engagement around FS. But it did set a standard so that every man FS advocate had to decide whether he was a geek and every woman FS advocate whdher she was a geek girlfriend-'' Although many of my interviewees men and women-grappled with the implications of endorsing gcndered and heteronormativc engagement with FS, all claimed that diverse engagements around FS, including copinedegeek.com, were welcome. Voluntary associations, after all, strove to advance a broad range of commitments. Furthermore, the website did ofkr a means of engagement with FS I(Jr some women. In particular, some women FS advocates f(nmd that it offered them a presence in FS without the considerable investment of licc time, which was necessary f(lr

tcnt, interested and skilled in FS, but on the\\ cbsitc they chose to claim an im oh ement in the community mainly through their relationships \\ ith men. Whik their gendered stereotypes undcrm i ned the idea Is or mcri tocracy dear to I S ad\ ocatcs, they also provided one way of addressing the knotty questions of\\ here, hm\ and f(lr whom gender matters in FS. The peculiar gendering of the term g.cek challenges the idea of a seamless global conversation across continents practices and some of the assumptions arc shared. e\ en\\ hen the platt(mns,

Conclusion
By creating sophisticated media platf(mns and an uncoil\ cntional but robust legal regime of' circulation, FS activists recast media change in terms oi' clwiccs, \\ hich arc ofien tied to political and social conjunctures. l'vly discussion of the hacker ethic and cxpansi\e sociality ofFS suggests
1\\0

ways in \\hich legaL ethical and political conlO\\

frontations around soli\\ arc arc carried f(lmard in daily life. Hackers' commitments to fieedom of speech and sharing of inf(mnation arc oriented ards maintaining a community of peer developers which requires indi\ iduals to embark on a pedagogicaL ethical and legal apprenticeship. I ha\ c argued that this kind oi' sociality is a

r
198 Uigital /lnthmtwlogt

/:nc ,)'o/ttmrc und the l'ollliD u/Shuring 199

central hut not the only way of participating in liTe soltwarc. Actors and practices that arc only incidentally related to coding. such as the copincdcgcck.comtcam. nc\ crthclcss shape the social meanings or licc soil ware. even as they rcllamc the participation in FS in 11ays that elicit amhi1alencc among FS contributors. More broadly. copincdcgcck.com suggests that there arc multiple ways to he imohcd in free soil ware. The acceptance or this diversity. as I have illustrated. im itcs a debate about the goals of FS projects as limns of public engagement. FS is also an cl'kcti\ c reminder that utopian ideals and l(mnal dichotomies (e.g. licclproprictary. copylelt/copyrighl) arc only a starting point l(lr an im cstigation or the changing practices of media production. consumption and distribution. While FS licences uphold users' rights to share and modify soli11arc. much or the sharing practised on You Tube. Flickr and various social networking sites takes place in direct contradiction or their terms or usc that rcscn c pcrvasi\ c rights l(lr infrastructure ow ncrs. FS principles then suggest one approach to sharing in a much more pluralistic landscape. Furthermore. various contingencies emerge when analysing hm\ practices or online sharing combine with the rules or the marketplace and novel forms or publicity. hlr example commercial media producers have employed strikingly di lfcrcnt strategies [()\\ ards litns. distribution or media in the case or music sharing. ani me litndom and viral marketing ( Varncl is 200X ). Although many goods arc shared \\ ithout charge. it is the diversity of commitments and relationships that arc pursued through these activities that is striking (Rodman and Vandcrdonckt 2006 ). I; or this reason. I hesitate to subsume various projects of no-cost digital media sharing under a common umbrella and instead suggest that 'entailments and containments in these projects may he one rich area for further empirical study (Strathcrn 1996: 525). Not only may further studies shed light on the rationales of inclusion and exclusion around intellectual property claims in specific social contexts. as Strathcrn ( 1996) has suggested. hut also on the previously neglected emotional. social and ethical considerations that guide indi1 idual choices in the prolili:ration of digital media (Gershon 20 I 0: Miller and llorst in the introduction to this volume). These ethnographic im cstigations. in realms beyond liTe solh1 arc. reassert the importance of\\ hat FS activists routinely (and indiscriminately) call 'users' or the 'rights of the public' in the making of llC\\ normativitics in digital media. ny highlighting di\ crsc COmmitments pursued under the aegis or sharing. further anthropological studies may add a new twist to the debate about minding the legal and technical possibilities in rcpurposing digital media which may he a promising contnbution that the study or FS offers to thinking about a lllUCh broader variety of digital media practices.

.l.

.f.

5.
(l.

\\hose cultural properties arc also cntangkd in the constellation or intellectual property laws and business in intangihk properties. Open-source activist Fric Raymond prm idcd a catchy analug~ by arguing that the open-source model ofsolt\\arc dc1clopmcnt is similar to a great babbling lx11aar or dilfcring agendas and approaches. 11 hich he cuntrastcd 11 ith a topdm\ n. 'cathcdral-styk approach of curporatc son 11 arc dc1 c lopment 1Raymond 200 I : 2 I. 223). J'hrough partiupant obsenation in Creati1c Comnwns and the opcn-suureL' tc.xthook project ComKxions. Kelty (200X) has analy/l'd hm1 the principk ol' modifiability is c.\.tcndcd to science and other domains ol' cultural prnduction. He took part in sc\ era! com crsations about publishing, scholarly societies and open access to anthropology research (Kelty ct al. 200:\ ). made his hook accessible online licc ol' charge and contributes to public anthropolog) \ ia the blog Savage Minds. In-line skating \\<ts a major sociali/ing acti1it) anHHl[l Parisian solh1arc acti\ists at the time, so an in-linc-skaling penguin is a mascot ol' the Parisian soli\\ arc association Parinu.x. There were no public comments on this site: readers sent their i'ccdback 1 ia c-ma i I. When conliontcd 11 ith the option of being a gcck girlliiend. a number of11 omen FS dc1clopcrs and athocates adopted thL' moniker gcd.Lttc that is a 11oman skilled and passionately interested in lice soli11 me. Despite thci; nlicn ha1 ing gcck bnyl'riends or husbands. gcekcttcs l'clt \en strongly about their autnnnnwus commitment to the 1:s mm cn1ent.

References
Bcnkler. Y 200(1. The ll('alth of .\cttmrks: I lo11 Sociu! l'mdii<'tion li'umjonn.1 .l!urkets and Freedom. Nc\\ ll;l\ en. CT: Yale lJni1 crsity Press. Born. Ci. Jl)l)h. (lm)matcriality and Sociality: The Dynamics ol'lntcllcctuall'ropnty in a Computer Soli11arc Research Culture. Social .lnthmtJn/o,P,r -1(2): 101 J(,. Bm1 kcr. (! .. and S. L. Star. Jl)l)l)_ Sorting Things Out: ( '/us,i/icution and ft., ( 'nl/lelfliC/lccs. Cambridge. M;\: MIT Press. Boyle . .1. 199(1. Shamans. Sojitwrc. and .\j1/eens:' 1.<111' and the ( 'onstmction o/tlic !nfimnation Socil'lr. Cambridge. M/\: I ian ani l !nil ersit~ PrL'Ss. Burgess . .1. 200X.;\II Your Chocolate Rain Arc Belong to l 's') In I 'i<leo I ime.r Reader: f?c.lf)(!11SCS to )ii/ITulw. cd. (i. Lovink and S. Niederer. 101 10. Amsterdam: Institute ofNct\\ork Cultures. Burgess. Land .1. ( irccn. 200'). )ii/llirhc. Online I ideo und l'al'licit>uton ( 'u/ture. Cambridge: Polity Press. Chan./\. 200-l. Cnding Free Soli11arc. Coding Free States: 1-rl'l' Soli11 arc Legislation and the Politics ofCodc in Peru . . lnthmt>ologicu! \}uarkr-h- 77(3): ."31 -15.

Notes
I. Coombe and Herman argue that the opposition or corporations against indi\ idual consumers key to FS and commons advocates---rests on imagining both consumers and corporations as smcrcign entitles and obscures other actors

2011 Uigitol ,lnthmjwlogt

Free So/ttmre and !he l'olirin o/Siwring 201

Coleman, L. ( i. l:orthcoming. C(}(ling Frccdn111: !he !:.!hies und .-les!hetics of !locking. Pri nccton, N.l: Pri nccton LJ n i\ crsit y Press. Coleman, 1:. Ci. 2004. The Political /\gnosticism or lrcc and Open Source Soli\\CliT and the lnach crtcnt Politics or Contrast. . In! hmjwlog icul (jtwrterh 77 ( 3 ): 507 I <J. Coleman, E. Ci. 2000. Code Is Speech: Lcg:al Tinkering, 1:.\pcrtisc, and Protest among l:rcc and Open Source Soli\\arc Developers. C'ultunt! , lnthmjJo/ogr 24( 3 ): 420 54. Coleman, L. Ci. 20 I Oa. Lthnographic Approaches to Digital Media. Annual Rninr ofAnthrojJo/ogr 30: 4X7 505. Coleman, E. Ci. 20 I Ob. The llackcr Conkrcnce: A Ritual Condensation and Celebration ora Likworld. ilnthmpologicul (juur!crlr X3( I): 47 72. Coleman, 1:. G. 2012. l'hrcaks, llackcrs, and Trolls and the Politics orTransg:rcssion and Spectacle. In The Sociu/ .\lcdiu Reader, cd. M. MandilxTg, <)l) II<). New York: N~:w York University Pr~:ss. Coleman, L. Ci., and A. Ciolub. 200X. Hacker Practice: Moral Cicnres and the Cultural Articulation or Liberalism . . 111/hmjwlogicu/lheorr X(3): 255 77. Coleman, E. G .. and M. II ill. 2004. The Social Production ol' Fthi~:s in lkbian and Free Solh\arc Communities. In Free and UfJCII Source Sofilmre /Jetclojmtenl, ~:d. S. Koch, 273 <)5. llershcy, PA: ICil Global. Coombe, R. Landi\. IIerman. 2004. Rhetorical Virtues: Property, Spcc~:h, and the Commons on the World- Wide Web. :lnrhmpologicul (juurtcrlr 77( 3 ): 550 74. ~:opinedcgcck.com. 2002a. A propos du site. http:/i~:opin~:dcgcck.com/articlc simple. phpT'id article 9. copincdcgcd.com. 2002b. Ln chaquc CDCJ sommcillc Llllc gcckcttc ... http:iicopinc dcgcck.com/articlc.phpT'id article I 09. Future or Musi~: C'oalition. 2007. N~:w Business Models ... and lim\ Musicians, Labels and Song:\\ rit~:rs Arc ( 'ompcnsatcd. http:i/l'uturcol'music.org/arti~:lc/articld ncw-busi ncss-nHlllel s. CicrshoJL I. 20 I 0. The Hreukujl :3.11: !Ji.,connecting o\cr ,Vnt ,'v/ediu. Ithaca, NY: Cornell Uni\ crsity Press. Cihosh, R. /\. I99X. Cooking Pot Markets: An l:conomic Modcll'or the Trade in lr~:~: Cioods and Services on the Internet. Fin! :\1ondur 3(2). http://tirstmonday.org/ htbi n/cgi wrap/bin;ojs/imlex. php/lin/arti~:le/\icw/5X0/50 I . Cilwsh, R. i\., cd. 2005. ( '( )/)/:': ( 'olluhorutin Umtenhijl Oil(/ the /)igitul Fconomr. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Cihosh, R. A .. R. (Jlott, B. Krieg:cr and Ci. Robles. 2002. Frec/Uill'e and Open Source Sojimtrc: St/1'\'e\ and Srud1. l'urt I 1': .')ti/Ter o/lhTelopers. Maastrid1t: lnt~:rna t ion a I lnst itute ol' lnli.mom ics. http:/ 1\\ \\ w.llosspo ls.org/. Gillespie, T. 2010. The Politics or 'Piatl(mns'. :\nt .\fediu and Socictr 12(3): 347 64.

Ciinsburg, F. 200X. Rethinking the Digital Age. In Th, .\lcdiu und Sociul The<WL cd. D. llcsnwndhalgh and .1. Toynbcc, 127 44. '-Jc11 York: Routlcdg:c. (jinsburg, F., L. i\hu-Lughod and B. Lark1n, cds. 2002 . .\lediu lliwfd,. lnthmfJO/ogr on ,\e\t Term in. lkrkcley: l!ni\ crsity orCalil(lrnia Press. llimancn, P. 200 I. The !locker !:'!hie und the .)/Jirit of the !njomtution lgc. NL'II York: Random House. Jenkins, II. 200CJ. C'onl'e!gence Culture: II hac Old und \cit' .\ledio ('of/ide. Ncl\ York: Nc\\ York University Press. Jordan, T., and P. Taylor. 2004. lluckririsnt und ( :rhcnwn: Rehel\ Hith " ( u/1.\e:' London: Routledge. Juhas/, A. 20 II. /,cumingjiwn )i}/{Tulw Cambridge, rYIA: rYIIT Press. http: , cctors. usc .cdwprojccts 11earni ngfimny<Jutuhe . Juris, .1. S. 2005. The New Digital Media and Acti\ ist Nct11orking 11 ithin :\nti-Corporat~: Globali/ation Movements. :lnnuls o(tl1c .lmcricun .lcudcmt o(l'oliricul and .'locial Science 597: I X9 20X. Karanm ic, J. 200X. Sharing Pub! ics: Democracy, Cooperation, and Free Soli\\ arc AdnJI.:<Ky in Franc~:. PhD dissertation, Nc\1 York Uni\crsity. Karanm ic, .I. 20 I 0. Contentious Eurnpcani/ation: The Parado:x ol' lknHning European through Anti-Patent A~:tivism. l:'thno.\ 75(3 ): 252 74. Kelty, C. M. 200X. lim !Jits: The Culturul Signi/imnce o(Frce Sojilwre. Durham, NC ': Duke Uni\ crsity Press. Kelty, C. M .. M. M . .1. Fischer, i\. Ciolub, .1. B. Jackson, K. Christen. M. F. Bnm nand T. Bocllstorlf 200X. Anthropology ln/oi'Circulation: The Future oi'Opcn Access and S~:holarly Societies. C'ultum/.1 nrlnvJIO!ogr 23(3 ): 559 XX. Lange, P. 200X. ( M is )Conceptions about YouTube. In I idm I imc.\ Rcudcr: Re1ponse.\ to )i}/{T/Ihe, cd. G. Lm ink and S. Niederer, X7 I 00. Amsterdam: Institute or Network Cultures. Leach, L D. Nali.1s and 13. Krieger. 2009. Freedom lmag:incd: lVIorality and Aesthetics in Open Source Soli ware lksign. !:'tllllos 74( I): 51 71. Lessig, L. 1999. Code and Other rmrs ofC 'rha.lfhtn'. Nc\\ York: Basic Books. L~:vy, S. 19X4. !Iocken: 1/cmcs ofthe Colltjmtcr Rnolution. NC\1 York: Delta. Lin, Y.-W. 2005. Ci~:ndcr Dimensions or FLOSS Dc1 clopmcnt. .\lu!c 2( I). http: \\\\ w.mctam u te .org/en/Gender- Di mcnsions-o f~ I: loss- Ik\ c lopmcnt. Lin, Y.- W. 2007. Hacker Culture and the FLOSS Innovation. In 1/undhook of Research on Open Source Sojimtre, cd. K. St. Amant and B. Still. 34 46. I krshcy, PA: ICil Global. Lov ink, Ci. 2003. Air First Recession: ( 'riticul lntemct C'ulture in Trunsirion. Rotterdam: V2lNAi Publishers. Malinowski, B. 1922. :1Jgonauts of the ll(,tem l'uci/ic .In .Iecount of \orin l:nfeljJrisc and 1drcnture in the .lrchijJC/ugos of \!clanesiun .\c\1 C'uincu. Londnn: Routledge.

202 Digital .lnthmflolog\'


Marcus, Ci. E. 1996. Connected:) l~ngugcnwnts trith Hcdi11. Vol. 3. Chicago: University or Chicago Press. Miller, LN. <iovi1. J. McMurria, R. Maxwell and W. Ting. 2005. (ilohal 1/oll\'m}()d :l. London: British Film Institute. Moreau, i\. 2005. Lc copylcll appliqu0 <'t Ia creation artistiquc. Lc collcctirCopylell Attitude ct Ia Licence i\rt Lihrc. Master\ thesis (DEi\), University or Paris X. http :1/a ntomoro.li-cc. li/letl/ dca/D I~/\ copy Ic ll. h tml. Noyes, D. 2009. llardscrahble Academics: Toward a Social Economy or Vernacular Invention. /~'thnologial:'umJwcu .\9(2): 41 53. Raymond, F. S. 200 I. 7Jw ( athcdrul and the !Ju::uur: .l111.1ings on Linu.r and Oficn Source hr an zlccidcntal RcmlutimlmT. SebastopoL Ci\: O'Reilly Media. Rodman, Ci. B., and C. Vandcrdonckt. 2006. Music I(Jr Nothing or, I Want My MP.l: The Regulation and Recirculation or i\ ITeet. C'ultural Studies 20( 2): 245 61. Schol,.-:, T. 200X. Market Ideology and the Myths or Web 2.0. First .\fondm I 3( 3 ). http:/ I II rstmonday.org/ht hi n/cgi vv rap/hi n/ojs/ indcx. php/rm/art ic le/vicvv / 213X/ 1945. Shaw,/\. 2011. Insurgent Expertise: The Politics or lt-cc/Li\Tc and Open Source Soliwarc in Brazil. Journal oflnfimnation l(clnwlog\' and l'olitics X: 25.\ 72. Stalder, F., and C. Mayer. 2009. The S~:cond Index: Search Engines, Personalization and Surveillance. In !JecjJ Search: The l'olilics of Scorch hc\'ond (iooglc, cd. K. Becker and F. Stald~:r, 9X II h. lnnsbruck: Studicnv~:rlag. Strathcrn, M. 1996. Cut!ing the Network. Jonmal ofihc Roral .lnthmflological lnstilu/c 2(3 ): 517 .\5. Takhtcycv, Y. 2009. Coding Places: Uneven Cilobalization or Sol1warc Work in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. PhD diss., University orCalii(Jrnia, Berkeley. Tirolc, .1., and .1. Lcrn~:r. 2002. Some Simple Economics orOp~:n Source. Journal of Industrial !:'conomic.1 50( 2 ): 197 234. Turkle, S. 19X4. The Second Sci( CnmJJU!crs illlil the !Iuman ,)jJirit. New York: Simon & Schuster. Turner, F. 200CJ. From ( 'ountcrculturc to ( :t'iwrnrlturc: Stnmrl Hrand, the Whnlc l:'arth .'1/cttmrk. umlthc Rise o/!Jigital C'tnJ!iuni.lm. Chicago: University or Chicago Press. Varnclis. K., ed. 200X. Nettmrkcd l'uhlics. Cambridge, Mi\: MIT Press. Von llippc1. E. 2005. /)cmocrati::ing lnnotution. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Weber, S. 2004. The Swcess of Ofh'n Source. Cambridge, Mi\: Han ard University Press. Zittrain, .1. 200X. The Future ofthc Interne! ,filii 1/mt to S!Ofi Jr. Nc1v llavcn, CT: Yale University Press.

-10Diverse Digital Worlds


Bart Barendregt

Digital Futures and Its Discontent


Book titles such as //mr rlw [)igital .tge Is Chunging Our .\lind1. lhc 1-'utun of rile !'as! in the /Jigitul .lge or, I(Jr that matter, The Fururc of' the Internet suggest htm our ruturc is not only 11 ide open but increasingly tkemed to he digital. YeL surprisingly little anthropological research is done on ho\\ pcopk em isage these digital ruturcs, nor has there b~:cn much attention de\ oted to the cross-Lultural diversity ol' such imaginations. This chapter, then, 11ill I(Jcus on hov\ the idea and itkal ol' the inl(mnation socic!y and other modern myths, such as that or the digital rc1 olution, have impacted digital practices arnund the \\ orld and htn\ this sheL'r di1 crsit) ''ill Iced back into one or the main narrativ L'S ol' our time.

.Join the Future (But Whose/)


h1r ov cr rour decades the ideal ol' the inl'ormation society has been a battlegrnund ror id~:ologists, a struggle whose origins can he traced to the early Cold \Var era. Although in those days lite United States outv\ ittcd the Sm icts on most terrains. the latter could resort to the pmv crrul rhdoric or tonHJIT0\1 \ communist paradise. Hence, a much-needed countcrl'uturc was needed and \\as e\entually to be J'ound in McLuhan 's lindcrstanJing .llcdia ( 19(!4 ). While Sm ict intelligentsia propagated a ruturc or cybernetic eommunism, us think tanks appropriated Mcl.uhan\ technology in their drin: ror progress, above all his notion or the Global Village, ev entuall:;. producing \\hat is nmv knovv n as the Net (sec Barbrook 2007 ). Today our future is even more technologically dri\ en, encouraging blind l~tith in digital technologies and bringing in its wake the rise or a global economy in \\ hich e-commerce and e-governancc arc not yet standard but, nevertheless, arc much-sought-alicr ideals by states and the pri\at~: sector. I hmcvcr. the \Cry dominance or idealized digital ruturcs has alvvays led to at least a marginal dissident J'ringc in both the digital hinterlands and in the \cry heart or the inl(mnation society. In these heartlands. dissidents point to the inl(mnation society's shortcomings. creating countcrideals of

:!113

204 /)igital /lnthmJ)()/ogr


'slm~ 'lil'c with rctro symbols ol'prc\ ious technologies ~uch as knilling: and blackand-white TV \\ hilc taking cult hooks such as the ( 'foudlf)(J//cr \ Guide ( PrctorPinncy and Cloud Appreciation Society 2006) to he their Bible. Many claim that the technology that is meant to connect actually disconnects. and those complaining arc to regain control over their own li\cs. Even l'uturc-oricntatcd mag<uincs. such as Wired. seem to ha\c a soli spot I(Jr cults !'or the lnl(mnation Age. such as the 2005 Hipster I'D;\. or the (iclling-Things-Donc mmcmcnt (alter Da\id Allen's 200 I hook). Dissidents have thus tried to em isagc an altl:rnativc future which cnsut-cs that such technologies adhere to. rather than dcstro;. wider spiritual\ a lues. In filet. this was an important clement even in the original conception ol' digital futures in Calili.Jrnia\ Silicon Valley. Both Turner (200(J) and /andhcrgcn (2011) have described a spiritual undercurrent in San hancisco Bay ;\rca gcckdom. running all the way !'rom Stewart Brand's journal. 11 hole l:arlh ( 'atalog. to today's New Edge movement. Others write on cybcr gnosis\ blending ol' secular technology and a quest I(Jr a spiritual experience ol'ultimatc reality (;\upcrs. Houtman and Pels 200X). Anthropologists may hear witness to another significant dmvnsidc to the information society as both new technologies and their associated practices tiom the start seem Westerly dominated.

!Jii'<'I"S<'

I >i_!.!,i!ul ll(i/"fdl 205

G/oha/i:;ing the /Jigito/


llassan (200X) recounts 110\\ the ideal ol' an inl(mnational society that is cheap, cl~ ticicnt and ckan ignores the hidden costs else\\ here. One only has to look at the electronic dumps ol'southcrn China (Basel Action Network 2002) or the civil \\ar !'ought in Congo over much-needed minerals to help those in richer nations produce phones and game consoles. along with more general disputes over rare resources. to sec the \cry material consequences ol'thc digital. Answers to how to avoid such hidden costs have been sought in awareness campaigns such as the recent Fair IT approach. and major players involved in the digital revolution --the Microsolis. liPs and Sonys ol' this world--have special l'unds set aside l(lr developing environmentally ti-icndly green computing. lest it won't prmc to be a litiled revolution. If we put this evidence I(Jr the incorporation ol'digital technologies in l(lstcring global inequalities within the larger political economy. togcthcr with the more traditional critique ol' the West that is associated with much ol' the developing \\ orld. it is not surprising that one of the main responses to the rise ol' digital technologies is a conceptualization of them as just the latest version oi'Wcstcrn domination. Docs this mean that what Barbrook and Cameron ( 1996) rc!Cr to as the Talil(lrnian ideology' a contradictory mix of the lett\ liberal society and the right's liberal marketplace --has become the dominant dictum in the inl(mnation socicty' 1 Thl: !Car of the inl(mnation socicty being yet another extension ol' global liberal capitalism reduces globaliz.ation processes to just that its economic dimension. It

is the globalization described hy the likes of" Friedman. Fukuyanw and uthn hypcrglobalists. who argue that 11c arc current!) \litncssing an era of" unprecedented acceleration and discmbcdding processes that\\ ill result in one single lwnwgL'netnts marketplace (or. in a sli!,!htly milder l(mn. that media capitalism \\ill Westernize other cultures). Hm1 C\ cr. the economy cannot he that easily separated fiom cultur<ll. social or political issues. While rccognizin!! the unique possihilitiL'S o!Tcrcd by transport and especially Ill'\\ communication tcchnolo!,!ics. man\ ha1 c alsu been keen to stress that !,!lohalization is hardly a nc\\ phenumctwn. Indeed. it Lan IK said (depending on one's interest) to ha\c started as carl) as the tiliccnth century tntcrcontincntal sea trade or that it began \\ith the latc-ninctccnth-ccntur) na of" electronic imcntions. Those start in!,! l"rom such a historical pcrspccti\ c argue that an cxclusi\C I(Jcus on the nm city of" llC\\ media technology closes our eyes to the lilCt that many technologies coined as 'new ha\ c actually been around l(lr quite a "hik (l(lr examples. sec Goggin [200(J: 23 [.on I X9.\ c.1pnimcnts "ith radio-by-plwnc in Budapest. or Standagc [199X j. on \\hat he dubs 'the Victorian lnll'rnct' telegraph and pneumatic tubes) and that most users arc sometimes still happily li\ ing \\ ith old crcol izcd technologies (Edgerton 2007 ). Similarly. anthropological critique has tar!,!ctcd the supposL'd reach of" globalization processes. l'ocusing on the digital. one may ar!,!UC that \\hat many theorists ha\c described as globalization actually rc!Crs to tran~national processes ICd hy interconnecting state-sponsored high-tech industries in Calil(lrnia and in .-\sian hubs such as Singapore or South Korea. lea\ in!! out huge parts of" the \\Orld -especially the less-wcll-dc\clopcd \\orltl. More so. much of"\\ hat passes as !,!lobal \\'estern culture is. as liu- as digital technology is concerned. inncasin!,!ly a pwduct of" East Asian companies. leading some (in the West) to !Car a highly tcchno-oricntalist l"uturc (Morley and Robins 1995: (l). Others describe globalization as. at best. patch\. In his .Vct\\ork Societr trilo!,!y. Castclls ( 1997) rckrs to 'the black holes' of" 111l"ormational capitalism. as C\ en \\ ithin the \cry same centres of" the digital. possibilities tend to be unc\cnly distributed. With the di!,!ital ha1cs better L'Onncctcd than the digital havc-nots. gated communities lui\ c !(lund their online cqui\ a Ients with the like-minded and the \\ell positioned increasingly talking amongst themsci\ cs and traditionally \ ulncrable groups such as immigrants. the lm\cr classes or senior citi/cns simply dropping otT the digital map. Digital technologies Ltcilitatc the outsourcing of" simple and unpleasant work to cheap-labour countries such as Mexico. Suriname or the Philippines (sec Slwmc 2006. l(ll" \\hat she calls the 'crisis of logic of" race' brought about by Indian call centre" mk) or 'bod) shoppin!!' some of India's brightest engineers (Xian!! 2007). leadin!! to a brain drain. alienation and adding to already existing inequalities. 'Where do you \\ant to go today')' was one of Microsoft\ famous taglincs hailing the pros oft he inl(mnation era: hmvcvcr. the consequence of the current 'materiality of" the global' is that some arc more mobile and much easier to connect than othns ( lnda and Rosaldo 200X: 29). Accordingly. anthropologists such as Tsing (.~005) and Ferguson (I')')')) call

206 !Jigitu/ /lnthrojio/ogl


upon thL:ir colkaguL:s to not just I(JuJs on globali/ation's incrL:asL:d inkrconnL:ctL:dnL:ss but on how it may actually disconnL:ct and to I(Jcus not only on thL: privikg.L:d centres. cutting-edge technology or the hip informational a1ant-g.arde but also on those awkwardly connected place~ and pcopk that arc 110\\ simply ignored in globali/.ation processes and, thus. kli to thcmsch cs in l(mnulating a digital future in 11 hich to participate.

/)in'I'S<' /)igitul lliil'ldl 207

Rc.1ponscsjim11 the IJigitu/ 1/inlcr/andl


Studies ofdi1crsc digital 11orlds could thus benefit from 11ork that sho11s hm1 global cultural dynamics arc li1r from the c:-;clusivc Western project so olkn imagined. Such \\Ork ofJCrs important corrL:CliVL:S (O the cultural imperialism thesis that \\aS popular in the lak Jl)70s and Jl)X()s and that is still adhL:rcd to by inl(mnational critics such as Barbrook. Undeniably. ours is an era that sec~ Western cultural commodities and ideas il011 ing. from the centre to be rcplicakd in all outlying areas of the world. Take the sole dominance or word processing. soli11 arc such as Microsoll Word and its impact on the 'logic or script' in many vernacular languages ( Dor 2004 ). Hown cr. this West is increasingly detached from the physical West. not least because of nonWestern inl(mnation technology spL:cialists increasingly bL:ing responsible f(Jr the main share or programming and design in traditional Western digital centres such as Silicon Valley. lnda and Rosaldo (200X) summari/c thrL:L: othL:r critique~ or the still-current cuilund imperialism thesis which can be easily illustrated 11ith c:-;amples from recent digital studies. A first critique is that, despite a dominant tlm1 or all things cultural Jimn the rich North to the poor South, recipients at the other end are never just passive. Many studies prove how COilSUillcrs or Western digital technologies bring. their own cultural impositions. reinterpreting and customi/ing. such practices. I leeks (200X) illustrates how rok-playing games such as World or Warcr<Jit oi"ICr not just online entertainment but financial bcnctits and c\ en educational skills to young. Chinese players. Whereas their Western peers stick to the credo or l~1ir play. Chinese gold limncrs (named l\1r their massi1 L: L:ommmlity production and sales on online fan sites) arc hated I(Jr kill-stealing', ninja looting and m crt ad1 crtising. The Chinese, in turn. l~1cc threats and abuse and arc (in games) massacred by Western players, who, ventilating ncg.ativL: homog.L:nL:ous images or electronic sweatshops. clearly echo racial stereotypes or the first US gold rush (Yi-Shan-(juan 2006). The point here is that a Western online game in a Chinese setting is reinterpreted as a tool I(Jr production rather than consumption. A second critique pertains to the supposed one-directional 'ic11 or g.lobali/ation, with anthropologists highlighting. rc1crsc culturalllows and processes of mutual imbrications. ;\ case in point is the successful and much-m1 ardcd Village Pay Phone programme initiated by Gramccn, which helped Bangladeshi 'phone ladies' to start

their 011 n pay-phone sen icL:s to othcn1 isL: disconnected 1 illagcrs (Sulli1 an 2007). Once successfuL the programme 11as transkrrcd and adapted to a Ugandan contc\t 11ith neighbouring i\J"rican countries l(lllolling. suit. The huge popularit; or' illag.c phone projects trig.gcrL:d oiTshoob such as Kenya s f'v1-l'csa nwbik banking. project. using mobile phones to 11101 c money cheaply and quickly '' itlwut the intcn cntion or a bank (Hughes and Lonie 2007). The success or M-l'csa e\ cntuall; resulted in the Vodat(me Company e:-;pcrimcnting 11 ith intL:rnational rcmittanecs being. sent b; mobiles timn the United Kingdom to Kenya. Lastly. adherents or the cultural imperialism thesis ha1e traditionally paid little attention to global circuits or nchangc outside the \Vest. ncglceting !\1r C\amplc increasingly intcn~c South-to-South eontacts. ;\good c\amplc ol"th1~ is thL' international liTe and open-source solh1 are (FOSS) mm emcnt. e.\ampiL:s or 11 hieh can be \ ic11cd in the BBC World documentary Jhc ('ode 8rcukcn (20011). E:-;amplcs suL:h as those mentioned shm1 thL: uni(HTsccn \\ a;s that g.lobali/ation may trigger local responses and hm1 those 11 ho arL: seemingly not in ehargc lonk rnr altcrnati\ cs to what is posited as a honwgcncous \\ orld11 1dc inl(mnation soeiety. In studying. the sheer di\ crsity or the dig:itaL schnlars can elcarly prolit limn prc1 in us 11ork done by anthropologists of the globaL 11110 traditional!; ha\c' highlighted sueh processes by paying. attention tn customi/ation praeticcs in plaecs a\\ a; !"rom the (digital) ccntrL:s ol"the Wclrld (sec the later seetion on comparing Digital \\.'urlds'). As a further illustration. the case study l(lr this elwptcr is de\ otcd tn a particular instance in \\ hieh the WL:stcrn neolibL:ral origins or the inl(mnation socict; and their contribution to digital anthropology more generally ha1 c' been increasingly eon tested.

Extended Case Study: Indonesia


Today. a majority or people 11 orld1\ ide. 11 ith most usns situated in thL: poor South. aecess the Internet and other clcctronie inl"ormation not through a personal cumputcr but through their ccJJ phones.;\ burgeoning literature Oil mobile phone~ (for 0\ cr\ie\\S sec Castclls ct al. 20tl7: Kat/ 200X: Ling and Donner 200lJ) shll\\S hlm the usc ol"nmbile phones in \arious eultural contc:\ts <may li01n the \Vest has led not onl; tn genuine eustomi/ation or cell phone technology and ih assoeiatcd praeticcs but also to a plurality or e\pcctations about\\ hat it is to he mobile and conneetcd in the ncar future. Indonesian cell phone usc prm ides a good illustration or both. This section o!Ters a brief introduction to the digital rc1 olution in an Indonesian eontc\t. paying. attention (0 the lJLICSlion of 11hy mobile pJmnL: practices ha\C !tHJild JCrtile ground here. llmlc\cr, c\cn 11ithin this one eountry. a plurality ol" digital \\orlds cnc:-;ist. Three di fTc rent cell phone practiecs illustrate not only lum snme or these practiees ha\c been genuinely lndoncsiani/cd but also hm1 they sene as multiple imaginations or an Indonesian digital future.

208 /)igital A nthrotJn/ngr

l>il't'f"IC /)igitullliw!dl 209

Digital (R)c'l'olution in an Indonesian Context


From the outset, nation-huildin~; in developing South Fast Asian states such as Indonesia has been characterized hy an obsession with things modern, ltl!Tmost iconic inl(mnation technologic~. Anderson ( 19X:l) argues that print technology is instrumental in raising national <marcncss (the nation literally being 'consumed' in reading newspapers or national-language no\ cis). II is thesis asks others to I(Jcus on the formative role of yet newer technologies, describing how nationalist aspirations haw been expressed through the light over post-and-radio communication in Indonesia's Jl)45 independence struggle. hut also \\ ith the newly independent nation im csting in an archipclago-\\idc radio and television nd\\ork. A home-grown satellite system launched in 1976 was the first of its kind in the global South and C\ cntually proved to be instrumental in creating a modern-day variant of Anderson\ national audience (Barker 2005). It also resulted in a dynamic media landscape that was soon to he beyond the regime's control. In May Jl)9X_ I(Jrcshadm\ ing. the no\\ much-celebrated Arab Spring, Indonesian students who had become liuniliar '' ith inl(mnation and communication technology (ICT) limn their education abroad occupied the Indonesian parliament using laptops and other communication devices, calling li.Jr democracy and liccdom (II ill and Sen 2005). This 'Rc\olution ofSmall Media' --with equivalent electronic uprisings in democratizing societies such as the Philippines (Raliicl 2003), South Korea (Castclls ct al. 2007) and the Arab \\orld (lhahrinc 200X) initiated an era ofrcl(mll and a rise ofcivic initiatives. (iivcn the early usc of digital technology I(Jr political causes in the late 1990s and throughout the early 2000s, it is no surprise that in the subsequent years many important Indonesian Internet studies I(Jcuscd on issues of civil society, activism and the political potential ofthc \\Ch (Lim 200:\; Nugroho 20 II). However, in post-199X Indonesia, as elsewhere (sec ( iogg.in 2006: chap. 3, on the 'cool phone') the Internet was predominantly used to embrace consumer fi1ds, otkn imported from abroad and increasingly promoted by localli !\:style gurus. online Indonesian mag<l/incs and a blossoming creative industry based in Jakarta and other centres of hip. Since the early 2000s, a \aricty of social media has come and gone in rapid succession, but today mobile phones, prc!Crably secondhand and reconditioned BlackBerry smartphoncs (other brands arc simply too cxpcnsi\c), ha\c become the ultimate Internet platl(mn. Lmbracing. their newly regained freedoms, Indonesians have transl(mncd chatting, (micro)hlogging. and other forms of self-publishing into a national act, and within the space of only a lew years, Faccbook has become so popular that in early 2011 Indonesians l(mn one of the largest Facchook nations (online users that arc citizens from one particular nation state) world\\ ide.

M illcr \ (2006) on Jamaican phone practices and Pert icrra 's ( 20 I 0) on Ill'\\ mcd ia usc in the Philippines arc among the exceptions. T\\ o instances ma:-. help address the obvious question of hmv and in what \\ ay these nC\\ tcclmologics can be described as distinctly Indonesian. One of these practices is the prominence of social chatting soli\\ arc. Chatting in different forms remains by li1r the most popular usc of digital media in Indonesia. Slama (2010) describes hm1 chatting. became part of an urban youth culture short!) alkr its introduction in the mid-1990s. The anonymit; and other alh anlages of!\: red hy communication solh\arc such as miRC or successful dating sites such as match. com and later Fricndster allowed young Indonesians to saki: experiment \\ ith romance in a society that othemisc disapproves of intimate public contact bct\\eenthe sexes. While seemingly unprecedented. and pnl\ iding especially teenage girls \\ ith exciting new opportunities. the perl(mnati\ e styk of such amorous chit-chat can be traced to earlier Indonesian phenomena such as rcsponsorial singing in the licllL forest or during !Cstivitics, when prefab constructions \\ere instrumental in creating an atmosphere of(t)casc and flirtation. Quite a 1\:w of the tc\ts being sent by Indonesian mobile phone users or some of the more intimate c\changcs in chat sessions seem to echo these older traditions. Over the years. compilations of text messages and Twitter poetry have been published, both online and as small booklets, spiced up with cmoticons, English abhrc\ iations and other l(mns of digital communicatinn l(lr the hip. If the new private possibilities afl(micd by chat rooms and net\\ orking sites build upon certain Indonesian traditions, so do the more public uses oflndoncsia's Internet. Much of the public discussion taking place on mailing lists or posted on YouTuhc, Faeehook and other sites resembles earlier limns ofmmrng (street stall) talk: the humorous. oil en engaged hut othcm isc Ycry everyday com crsat ions one can Iis ten to in smalL side-street shops, halt~joking.ly rckrrcd to as the 'pcopk\ parliament'. These conversations l(mn a mixed modality \lith stories that arc meant to communicate something hut which are increasingly meant to be m crhcard (sec Baym 20 I 0: 63 ). New media language-including an increasing number of Indonesian hlogs and Facchook sites using. modern languages such as I:nglish is part nfthc \\ idcr fi111k~ likstylc now commonly glossed as gaul, meaning to socialize and talking about the right things oltcn through word play.

Digital Nightmares and Possihle 11/cns Out


To move li01n these initial questions of how technologies arc appropriated\\ ithin the country to the larger question of new imaginations of an Indonesian digital future.\\ c need to bear three contextual issues in mind. First, strategically positioned bet\\ ccn the West and the Fast, Indonesia contains the \\orld's largest Muslim population. Ever since the Islamic rc\ ivai of the early 1970s. \ arious groups and spokespeople have used Islamic tenets as an antidote to Western colonial Yalucs and hack\\ ardncss

Cultural Practices
llithcrto. 1\:w in-depth case studies have been published on the localization of mobile and new practices in cultural contexts <may limn the West. Works such as llorst and

/)inTI<'

/)igitu!II(Jr!ds 211

and have called f\ll a genuine rcnaissaJKl: of the Muslim world. Alongside plans f(lr Islamic science, economy and t:ll\ ironmcntalt:<lrt:, int(mnation tcdmology has been instrumental in revitalizing rdigion and making it ready ti.1r the tv\ cnty-first century. Second, \\ t: have to consilkr the sheer speed with which a country hardly pend rated by int(mnation technology infrastrudurt: has become one of the fasll:st-growing markets in the region, 1\ht:JT new and mobik media arc somdimcs plugged for the first time. Nondhckss, the spread of and access to the latest technologies is vny uneven. Third, this initial usc of digital media in the context of political adion may have led to a wider coJKt:ptualization of the idea and ideal of a digital revolution. Despite these otkn unrealistic hopes, pcopk 's tears of the more sinisll:r silk of the digital revolution have also grown. with new media in Indonesia now commonly associall:d with political v iolcncc, piracy and pornography. Such tears of new kchnology arc of all times and all places. an 01 crvicw of which can be f(nmd in works such as Katz (2006) and Burgess (2004 ). Mobi lc phones arc used to organ izc proksts. but also possibly to trigger bombs, as was the case in the notorious Bali bombings of 2002. The rise of new and mobik media has kd to and expressed new t(mllS of public intimacy among Indonesian youth and a willingness to experiment with the new possibilities of cybcr-ad phone sex. Skypc in lntcrnd cates is used to circulate photos of girls. even veiled ones, displaying private parts of their bodies. Such practices arc definitely not rcstridcd to an Indonesian context, as proven by the work of Mathe\\ s (2010) on Filipina cam girls or Miller\ (2011) treatment of the subject in Trinidad. But in Indonesia. new media, and especially the new anonymous sharing mechanisms it oftl:rs. have become associated with the rise of pornography as a Western pcrv ersity. New kdmology upsets existing configurations and f(HTes people to take positions. In a country that has just freed itsd f tiom thirty-two years of authoritarian ruk, censorship seems the least popular solution: as such, people have, more optimistically. thought about ways to f~lcilitatc, participate and actively stir and reorient the Indonesian inf(mnation socidy. The tears outlined above. in tandem with the three at\Jremcntionul contextual issues the country's position within the Islamic \\orld, unc\cn access to int<.mnation kchnologies and the coinciding of social and technical revolutions-lead to a plurality of visions about what the Indonesian int(mnation socidy may look like a fi:w decades timnnow. To illustrate some of the more dominant. yet not mutually cxdusivc. future scenarios bridly, I rc!Cr to three mobik devices that have caught the public's attention over the last ten years. t\\O of which can be seen as dt(Jrts to come to terms with an inncasingly globalized inf(mnation society by lndoncsianizing such practices and the third being more postnational( ist) in character.

Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono (or SBY f(Jr short). a text message commenting on his first I 00 clays in ofticc. Later that year. the president declared that citi;ens could now text him directly. and so he made public his priva!L' mobile phone number. 0~ I I I 09949. I k said at a pub Iic C\ cnt that this number. the last four digits or\\ hich rcf'crred to his date of birth.') September 1949. had been a present limn TelkomseL the national telecommunication prO\ idcr. Stories in the national nt:\lspapers or the mid-2000s or presidential phone calls and text messages ride the wa\ cs of optimi,;m triggered by the 1')9~ regime change and typify goYcrnmcntal hopes to t~Jcilitate and nationali;e the global digital re1 olution. Such hopes include well-developed c-citizcnship as an 1mportant token of countries being able to make it into the digitalna and innm alive c-go1 crnancc applications.\\ hich hale become a hallmark or nationalist modernity. In practice, these otlicial attempts to promote digital citizenship ha1 e been complemented by others probably not em isioned by the gm crnment. There is an O\ era II rise in citi/en journa Iism. and both Face book and YouTube hal c been used passionately by Indonesians to fight injustice. With many quick to point out the ne\\ media's somewhat dubious reputation of 'onc-click-acti\ ism'. the organi;ational potential of blogs and network sites received an additional push 11 hen. in October 2009. a 'one million Facebookcrs' support movement 11 as launched to petition against the arrest oftwo senior members of the national Corruption Eradication Commission. The latest case showing hm1 digital citizenship may 1 cry 11 ell turn its back on its creator involves President SBY tiling charges against a former ally. no\\ suspected or bribery. In a much-f()marded text message. the man threatens re\ cngc by unco\ cring a number of scandals. including election data manipulation. While ackmm lcdging that the lm1 a lim\ s media to move against the gm ernmcnt. SBY urged the media to be rcsponsibk \I hen pub Iish ing news d iscrcd iting the gtn ernmcnt (';\tin S !\1 S Rumnr 20 II): so much for openness and transparency.
The Cunnihuli::ed !'hone The Dccembn 200.f issue or Tr,n J)igitulmaga;ine describes ho11 camera phones rapidly c\ olvc in terms nf authenticity nf colnurs. number of pixels and improved zoom functions. Ntn\. htm e\ cr. there is something that even phone companies have not dared to think about: a camera phone 11 ith X-ra~ !'unction. Ryan Filbert. an indepcmknt cell phone technician from Jakarta. managed to build the X-ray phone camera using two Nokia 6600 phones and a chip 11 ith inf'rared/night-vision functions taken ti01n a Sony Handycam. The article includes some pictures showing the camera\ ability to sec through people's clothes and concludes with a quotation tiom a Nokia spokesman saying there \\l're no legal measures the company could take against its phones being cannibali;cd 'as Indonesia at present still lacks a law cmering such activities'. The cannibal phone is just one among many tactics enabling Indonesian geeks and the digitally kss \I ell-off to participate in a future that was not theirs in the first place. Other practices may include the \\orld11idc practice of strategic miscalls or 'beeping' as described by Donner (2007). Filipino cost-sa\ ing strategies such as

lndonesiani::ing !he !vlohilc J>hone


the l'rc.lidcntiul 1/otlinc l~arly 2005 Sa\\ the rise of a daily column in the Indonesian national newspapers. which \\ere otkn called 'open letters to the president'. These columns gave pcopk the opportunity to send Indonesian president,
t)I.J4'),

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!>inTsc /)igitul lliwfd, 213

exclusively using text messaging (l'ertierra d a!. 2002) or v\hat Qiu (2009) duhs Chinese 'working class ICTs'. ;\II these manipulated technologies may digitally benefit the lower echelons of society and l~lcilitate the exchange of information at art(mlahlc rates. In the Indonesian context, this inl(mnation-l(lr-all credo is less of a political stance taken through hacker spaces, phreakers collectives or. I(Jr that matter, the immense popularity of open-source programming in the country. Rather_ it has to do with gaining access to the digital media\ promise of a glamorous mobile likstyle. In the last two decades, Indonesia's rapidly growing middle class has heen among the most krvcnt users of new and mobile media. While this middle class still counts I(H only a small portion of the country's population of 260 million people, its members' lil"cstylcs, and their social and physical mobility. serve as role models l(Jr Indonesians more generally. This much-aspired-to mobile li kstylc is also pronounced in the cell phone craze that has svv ept the country since the late 1990s. Nondhcicss, this only could he realized hy addressing each of the social classes in distinct ways. While Jakarta's upper class prides itselfon being able to alford the Iatestl~lshionable Nokia or (more recently) BlackBerry models, the defining katurc of

the Indonesian mobile phone markd is actually its division into various submarkets, with the less well-otT habitually buying an arf(m!ablc phone in the semilegal circuit. The trade in black market phones is, thus far, one of the most genuine local practices. Black markd phones come in all guises, ranging ll01n stolen and secondhand phones to imported electronic waste given a new lease of life on the Indonesian market and so-called reconditioned phones. The latter arc l~1bricated by amateur technicians such as the above mentioned Ryan Fi !bert. These autodidacts. who hm e oil en followed two-week commercial crash courses in cell phone technology, use parts of broken phones; the better, more prestigious phone 'eating' the other. inkrior one. Similar practices are known in other parts of the world, and Bar, Pisani and Weber (2007) and Molony (200S) give examples of crcolization of mobile technology l(lr, respectively, Latin America and the world's 'least wired region', East ;\liica. While often despised by the authorities and ollicial hardware vendors (all ofvv hom arc rumoured to have a share in this lucrative business), estimates suggest that up to SO per cent of all phones on the Indonesian market have some sort of connection to the semilegal by resorting to crcolization. Other alliliations arc at hand. the emerging popularit::. of' Islamic solhvare and hardv\are being a ease in point. As \\as c\ ident in the case of the Amish (Wetmore 2007). the resistance to technologies b; staunch religious practitioners has tended to be more a L'asc ul' sckcting \\ hich technologies arc appropriate rather than a blankl'l rejection oLdlne\v technologies. In practice. more J(mnal religions hav c been\ cry successful in uo;ing the
llt:\\

digital a!Tordances to their own alhantage (see Lim 2009). But\\ hile there is plenty of' research on ho\\ new media technologies ha\ e impacted and extended traditional religiosity, rclati\ely kw publications I(Jcus on \\hat religion docs to dominant ideas of the digital re\ olution or. l(ll that matter.
110\\

the .Host flip Social ;\'cflt'ork Sites (!'Ius Some hicks) ( Hartoko 20 I 0 ). or Cool Sites Are .Vot .ln1tjiil' Cheating (7ijJs to i\4okc /vfoner or Find u l'urtna) (Magdalena 2009),
1111

market. There is also an associated literature with titles such as Quick Lessons

religion has sought to in ten ene in

\\hat we knm\ to be the information society. Also in Indonesia. nevv mcdi;l tcclmologics have been used to show not only hm\ modern Islam can be. but also to tnggcr discussions on which direction such Muslim modernities should take if the digital era is to be embraced. as the I(JIIowing case attests.

which not only give Indonesians a quick fix on the dos and don'ts of the Internet, Twitter and social networking sites, but also leach them to use both hardware and soli ware in creative, unpredictable and ollcn semi legal \vays.

Het\n'en the Glohul and the /,ocal, There Is Tum1nutionol Religion

Today's usc

The l'ocket .Husli111

A 2007 l(lidcr shmvs a young Muslim \\oman\\ ith a digital

of' new media clearly shows how Indonesians are no longer exclusively lured by the appeal of nationalizing technologies; nor do they automatically l~dl for the global
f~mcics promoted in and

device in her hands. llidden under her VL'il is a pair of' earplugs. and hanging tiom the device is a small prayer compass. The de\ ice. sold as the 'first 1\luslim il'ml'. \vas among the tirst to target young Muslim hipsters natimm iLk.\\ ith other 'pockl'l

110111 the digital centres. although many continue to partake

214

/)igitul /1nthm;wlng\'

/)in'I"IC

/)igitul II in-/d.1

215

Muslims', olkn with or I(Kusing on phone lilllctionality soon t'olllm ing suit. These pocket Muslims arc handhclds with all sorts or Islamic multimedia features. Among the functions arc an authori/cd digital Koran (in various languages, one or\\ hich i~ Indonesian or Malay) hy al Sharif al 1\/.har- the late mutii of Egypt-- \arious Islamic hooks in electronic llll"lllat and an animation preparing Ill!" the annual pilgrimage to Mecca. The handhclds arc mostly produced abroad, sometimes proudly bearing the certificate 'Made in Mecca'. Indonesia has seen a considerable growth in its wealthy middle class and contra many scculari/ation theorists this middle class increasingly prefers a modern, but otherwise very orthodox., likstylc. The gnmth or this Muslim middle class in Indonesia and neighbouring countries such as Malaysia coincides \\ ith the shili from a previous Islamic IT\ ivai in the early 1970s. in which religion \\as largely seen as the antidote to Western colonial values, tO\\ards \\hat Giilc (2000) has come to dclinc as post-lslamism religion co\cring the nitty-gritty or the everyday and penetrating all domains of life. Post-lslamist likstylcs simultaneously challenge the orthodox, as it is 'contaminated' by Western consumerism and the secular modern. \\ ith public expressions or religiosity, obviously bornm ing the imagery or its opponents. NC\\ media arc prominent tools in cmphasi/ing the notion of such a modern Muslim lilcstylc ( ror a more general account, sec Eickclman and Anderson 2003 ). Nc\\ media have regularly been subject to l~ttwa, with Islamic hardliners quick to call li1r bans on, li1r example, bets placed \ ia text and condemning C:\ccrpts rrom the Koran being used as ring tones. Others. more pragmatically, have catcgori/cd technology as .1"11/lllilllllah Ciod-givcn blaming not technology but its users\\ hen things go wrong. Hm\c\cr, the import of Western technology has led many modern Muslims to lament the l~tct that. even in the postcolonial era. Muslim countries arc still coloni/cd by Western technologies and that these technologies. superior though they may be, lack a spiritual component. Clearly. the challenge here is hm\ to constantly remind Muslims using (modern inlimnation) technology of/\llah\ greatness and to encourage them to a hide by his lm\ s. So l~tr. two dilkrcnt, though not mutually cx.clusivc. scenarios have emerged in response. The first relates to exploiting IC'Ts' outwardly (hypcr)modcrn appearance li1r the process of lslami/ing modernity. The result is a shaping or Ill'\\ media technologies according to existing prclcrcnccs and. preferably, giving them a conspicuously Islamic ICcl. The second scenario is potentially more rc\olutionary in character, li1cusing on hm\ Islamic practices can truly benefit fiom Ill'\\ technological ad\anccs and, thus, modcrni/C Islam. Catcf..':ori/.cd under the first approach arc those Ill'\\ media practices that ha\ c been shaped <~ccording to Islamic taste. Following Campbell's (2006) description of the kosher phone or Flh\ood-Clayton\ (200J) Catholic tc:xting practices in the Philippines (sec Bell 200(, li1r a comparative study or tcchnospiritual practices). most or these practices have their equivalents in other 1\orld religions. Some, ho\\c\cr, arc more uniquely used hy Muslims, such as Mobile Syariah Banking or \alidatcd added tcx.t

sen ices such as the AI {)uran Selulcr. initiated in :'00:' hy tclc\ angcilst _,\a (i~ 111. But one can also include the\ arious Muslim phones that hm c targeted South l"ast Asian markets. ( )nc of" the most interesting crt(lrts to create solh1 arc that is L'onspicuousl~ Islamic (although not c\clusi\cl) Indonesian) has been an open-source project named Sahily. According to its \lchsitc. Sahily is a lin'. open-source opnating system 'designed hy and li11 Muslims' (li1llo\\ ing others, such as a ('hristian and c1cn a Satanic version). It is based on an Ubuntu L.inu\ distribution system. and nc11 1 crsions. \I ith Islamic names like Cia/a or Badr, appear c1 cry ten months. Sahily pnl\ ides rvJuslim users 1\ith out ol'thc ho:x Islamic soli\\ arc and tools. such as a pra:cr times app and a Koran vic\\ cr. Sahily is gnm ing in popularity. and. considering the prcl"crencc li1r open-source solh\arc among Indonesians. it is likLJy to gather a huge l(llln\1 ing. All or the Islamic hard\\ arc and soli\\ arc described here is suhjcL't to the ruks or religion and to rapidly changing (commercial) tastes and usns' allegiances and ages (Ill!" example attitudinal differences hct\lccn Muslims aligned \1 ith Salali. liberal. traditional or extremist positions). It may, thcrcl(lrc. be more rruitl'ul to look at the actual usc and what. according to Muslims. is \\on or lost 11 hen using religious I: inspired tcclmologics I\ hich brings nJC to the second approach.

Figun 10.2. il'am.

Free opcn-sourcc Sahil\ soli11arc slcc1c. ( "ourtc.S\ ,d hro!hcr \tuslih. i'rotn the Sahil\

216 /)igitu/ /1nthmpnlo,!',l'

/)1\,r.\C

!Jigitul llii!'ld' 217

The second possible scenario is not so much an Islamization of the modern, hut rather a modernization or Islam. Seen Ji01n this perspective. and stressing Ji.mction rather than l(mn, many Indonesian Muslims do not disapprove of the outward appearance or Mus! im mohi les or other rei igious soli\\ arc and hard\\ arc, but they t~1i I to sec much or the added value. Why buy a digital Koran if one has hard copies at homc' 1 Why pay t(Jr an expensive phone with call-to-prayer functionality if one li\cs in a country \\here mosques arc omniprcscnl' 1 Whereas in the lirsl approach, ncvv media practices arc conspicuously shaped hy religious prckrcnccs, in other instances, Islamic practice has hccn clearly extended hy the ncv\ technological advantages. One is reminded or how new media ha\c changed the annual Islamic holiday that comes at the end of the l~1sting month of Ramadan. Traditionally, people all over Indonesia return home at this time to restore social relations with their relatives and ask f(Jrgi\ cncss J(Jr slights and misunderstandings. Today, howe\cr, this is increasingly being done by sending text messages or hy contacting friends and 1~1111ily through social networking sites. Perhaps more exciting is how new media in an Indonesian context have started to change contacts between Muslims of the opposite sex. It appears that Salatist girls, largely restricted in their daily conversations with hoys, are among the most kr\cntuscrs oftexting, because it allows them to engage more li-ccly with male fiicnds. Moreover, Internet mailing lists oiTcr new public spaces li.Jr \\omen Muslims lo reflect on women\ interests, including health, sexual reproduction and women's rights.

Comparing Digital Worlds


I low, then. should we study the idea and ideal or the inl(mnation society' 1 This last section uses the Indonesian materials to otTer some clues on how a digital anthropologist may conduct further research on plural digital worlds This is done with reference to studies or globalization, media and material culture, especially those that deal with customization and other localizing practices. Second. a close reading or the Indonesian digital, especially its transnational religious aspirations. is used to li.1rthcr scrutinize how digital technologies themselves arc increasingly used to imagine specific futures, hopes and aspirations that could be central to our understanding or other people's digital worlds.

adjusting l(m\1 or recmling the practice to so lien the impact or (global) modernity. hut hmv the digital and other domains or lili: increasingly penetrated by processes or globalization arc sites\\ here a people arc not externally made modern. but make thcmschcs modern, thus providing lhcmschcs \\ ith an identity and a dc~tin: (Ciaonkar 199l)). Much or the anthropological study or the global ltlCUSCS on processes or localization, vcrnacularization. crcolization or. more generally, customlzation. referring to processes in which formerly separate (but not necessarily pure) cultural traditions-- here the Western digital and local readings of it to a difkrcnt extent can be mixed. olicn resulting in llC\\. third forms. In the field of media and material studies there arc plenty or clues on lllm to study creative appropriations or dominant digital culture a\Va) from its centre. In an carl) study on Yoruba (analogue) photography, Sprague (I ')7X) speaks or the \\ays AJiican people may or may not usc modern technology to\ isually shape their 0\\ n ( tigurati\ c l traditions, leading him to conclude how 'photographs arc actually coded in Yoruba . Sprague's and others' findings arc taken up hy those studying nc\\ media\ 'indigenous poetics'. rckrring to a culturally recognizable style and the \\ays distincti\c cultural ideals, logic and knowledge arc organized and CX!li'L'Sscd (Wilson and Stc\\ art 200X ). Examples or such poetics include Hjorth (2009), who describes hm\, in many Asian societies, cell phone cameras have initiated 'techno-cute practices: 'kmininc customization ranging from pink casings or characters hanging timn one's phone to the cute aesthetics or holding the cell phone camera in such a'' ay that eyes look big and bodies small. Writing on the media usc of first people groups. Ciinsburg (2002: 220) describes the Tanami Nct\\ork, an early vidco-conkrcncing nct\\ork that \\as established hy the Warlpiri communities of the Northern Territory. Australia. Tanami was intentionally designed to break with 'white people's' usc or inl(mnation technology, now prioritiz.ing decentralization and interacti\ ity. In a similar' cin. Christie (200X) calls for a more indigenous-friendly approach to digital technologies. especially where digital rights management is concerned. In a l~1scinating account. Deirdre Brown (2007) describes how such an approach may rcspcc\ local cultural values towards the digital. In an experiment at a Nc\\ Zealand museum. Maori heirlooms are digitized J(Jr exhibition, taking into account 0\\ ncrship and possible ISSues of desacralization. It may he such and other crcati\c appropriations that \cry much hold the key to further anthropological \ cnturcs into the digital.

Cultural Ideas: Strle, Mixing and Indigenous Poetics


The presidential hotline and cannibal phone, respectively, representing a lop-down ncolihcral formulation of what an inl(mnalion society should look like. and those trying to participate in a digital future not theirs clearly show how some scenarios I(Jr the ncar li.1turc arc mutually inlcrrclakd. Again, much is lo he learned here Jiom students or the global or the work done in the field of multiple modernities. Such works shm\ how it is not just a matter of

Technological Drama
In certain respects, the Indonesian case in the piT\ ious scctioncclwcs a long-standing tradition in the anthropology of technology in\\ hich, J(JIImving Bryan Plitllcnbcrgcr ( 1992). the emphasis is on the sociality of human tcclmological activity. Today's inf(mnation society forms part of much wider systems\\ hich incorporate issues of regularization, adjustment and reconstitution. South Fast Asian gm crnmcnts. including that or Indonesia, arc eager to regularize, hoping to acti\ ely cng~1gc their citizens in a

218 /)igita/ /1nthmt)()logr

/)i,e''(' /)igitol lf!JI"fd, 219

digital era and providing them with technologies and infrastructure. I! owe\ cr, technological katurcs mostly embody a larger political aim. Early satellite technology. as Barker (2005) illustrates. \\as mostly used to spread dominant .la\ancsc values to the outer Indonesian islands and strengthened a nationalist-military vision of the thousand-island archipelago. And while the Internet now enables Indonesians to partake in a global world of capitalism. f~1shion and consumerism. the success of nc\\. mobile and social media continues to he measured hy their contribution to the national and international economical growth all much in line \\ith what critics such as Barbrook and Cameron ( 1996) argue to he "the Californian ideology. Our second scenario f(Jr which the cannibal phone stood as a model illustrates PfatTcnbcrgcr\ notion of 'adjustment". or strategies to compensate "the loss of self-esteem. social prestige. and social power caused by the technology" ( 1992: 50(!). In the Indonesian setting. the usc of creole technology. piracy and other forms of cheap glohali/ation arc means to gain access to the dominant system otherwise impenetrable by the digitally less well-off. This leaves us with reconstitution. the third process mentioned by
Pt~lf-tcnbcrgcr ( 1992: 506) and said to consist of the f~1hrication of countcrartcl~Jcts.

Initially launched hy a Tunisian programmer li\ ing in Paris and lwsted by a Km\ aiti server. it is
110\\

particularly popular in Malaysia and lndonesJ<l. Sahily is not onl;. a

good example of the transnational. rather than global. character of much ol" toda~ \ ICT use. it also stands for the recent urge for so-called South-to-South soli\\ are as expressed b~ participants of the ~000 Tunis f."orum on I( Ts and De\ elopment in the Islamic World and the Organi/.ation ol" the Islamic Conkrence (OIC). In at its biennial congress in Malaysia. the OIC unl"olded its Vision 1441
(20~0 ~00.).

in the

Western calendar). It urged its filly-six member-countries to focus on strengthening the knowledge-based K-economy" and to tight the deepening di\ ides that threaten much of the Islamic world. Many international Muslim academics are l"ully im ol\ ed in this mm ement. which has nm\ been\\ idely dubbed int(mnation and communication technology !"or the Muslim world. or I<.'T4M. A
f"e\\

years ago. lslamic-\\Orld.

net. the site of the Malaysia-based Khali l~1h Institute. came up \\ ith a "Web Plan to reali/e a number-one Islamic \\cb portal prmiding positi\e information about Islam and giving daily commentary on international nc\\S events tiom an Islamic perspective. Other strategies in much the same vein as the present Web 2.0 hype include polls to assess the opinion of Muslims worldwide on \ arious issues important to Islam. There is also the promise of de\ elopmentalism as cheaply photocopied materials are provided in areas of the world still \\ith limited access to electronic information technology. However. most interesting is the proposal to de\ clop the "Islamic Net". separate !rom the Internet as we kmm it and with the pnn ision ol" at least one computer terminal inc\ cry mosque in the world being linked to it. Turning to nc\\ media. the\\ orld\\ ide ummah seems to IHl\ e awakened and has become increasingly <mare ol"itselt: With one out ol"ti\e world citi/ens--the majorit_v ol"\\hich. as Bunt (~009)

'believed to negate or reverse the political implications of the dominant system. Islamic software and hardware may have a ditkrent kel to its users. but in functionality it hardly ditlcrs tiom its secular counterparts. Indonesian Muslims are fully partaking in today\ inf(mlwtion society. and while there is plenty of discussion on what and what not to do with some of the new technologies. this is done without ever radically breaking away from what other peers arc doing around the world --or is it'l

Cultural/deals: The Islamic !nfhrmation Socielr


One interesting aspect of the use of Indoncsian Muslim ICTs is their increasing transnational reach. This is not just a question of techno-savvy radical groups propagating the ideal of the cybcr caliphate. More progressive thinkers promote the concept of tomorrow's ummah. first rekrrcd to by people as Muslim intellectual Sardar and embraced by Malaysian opposition leader Anwar Ibrahim ( 1991 ). which can compete with the crowd-pulling power of cyber-fundamentalism or, f(Jr that matter. the more Western-style liberal inf(mnation society. Such futures of a post-postmodern Muslim society arc. in an Indonesian context. never that f~1r off. One can think of initiatives from the pri\ ate sector. including transnational telecommunications sen ices. which allow Indonesian pilgrims to use their own phones and subscriptions while in the Holy Land. or a digital growth centre with Malaysian money and expertise being built in Medina--not coincidentally. the holy city that saw the beginning of the Islamic acquisition of knowledge and which is now chosen to transf(mn Muslims and bring about a true revival in the digital era. Similarly. Faeebook and other social networking sites have contributed to religious exchange bel\\ een Indonesian youth and their Muslim peers elsewhere. The above-mentioned Sabily is one such project.

\Varns. is sti II not online-ne\\ technological dreams are dreamt that may \cry \\ell influence the course of what
\\C

understand to he todays information society.

1/rm: Then. to Rcud the Digital Future:)


Why should we care about tomotTll\\ \digital dreams"' And\\ hy I(Jcus on the discontents of today's information society') The simple ans\\ er is because that is\\ hat anthropologists do; they shm\ that there arc always \ arious \\ ays to address a problem and that. apparently. the problem can even dif"kr timn one society to another. Studies of digital culture have hitherto t(Jcused on the pm\ erful centres of the int(mnation society. /ooming in on research labs. geeks and youth cultures in the West and Last Asia's metropoles.lea\ ing the rest of the \\orld to be digitally de\ eloped and thus the l"ocus ol" in !"ormation and communication technology f(Jr de\ elopment ( ICT 4[)) studies. If the interest in information technology in the Islamic South siHm s one thing. it is how digital technologies are used to imagine specific futures and cultural styles. Increasingly the digital itself is a prominent building block in shaping people's futures. One important task f(Jr anthropologists of the digital may be to compare such

220 Digital A nthro1wlogr

/)i\'cnc I )igitul II i11-!d1 221

digital futurities, or forms of the future: the digital revolution and Western information socie!y are hut two of such possible metanarrati\ es. There have been no ethnographic equivalents to popular books on those places where the digital future is actually shaped: the local boardrooms of multinational players such as Cioogle, Nokia or Samsung: on everyday life in digital gnmth centres such as Porto Digital, a high-tech de\elopment park in Brazil: Korea's Guro Digital Industrial Complex: the Medina Knowledge Lconomic City and many others involved in l(mnulating the future digital. Again this is only half of the picture, and anthropologists of the digital \\mild do well to incorporate those places more awkwardly connected. The essay of Watts (200~) on Scottish Orkney, a site for hightech future-making in a 'l~tr olfplace', senes as a good example, as does the study on the downsides of inl(mnational futures t(Jr women working in the int(mnation technology industry in Barbados by Freeman (2000) and Lindquist's (2009) similar account of the digitally deprived on the Indonesian island of Batam. Not everyone will be interested in doing fieldwork among policymakers, think tanks, futurists or trend watchers, but these are not the only ones to make a future. Anthropological lieldwork has shown that it is one thing to have an ;lllluent dream about tomorrow's possibilities, hut an entirely different thing to consider how such dreams act upon the present and upon those who seem to he left voiceless in such matters. Possible trajectories toward the future may start limn small acts of resistance, such as a Muslim version of 1-acebook or a sell~(re)styled hip phone t(Jr the poor. With other parts of the world vastly adopting, appropriating and reconstituting information technologies, embedding digital practices in a culture of their own, an exciting new era l()r anthropologists is about to dawn. It is up to us to show hm1 technologies once picked up in those parts of the world we have traditionally been interested in may lead to a reconfiguration of our sociotechnical systems and how other people\ use may shape our own dreams i(Jr tomorrow\ technologies.

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Digital Engagement: Voice and Participation in Development


Jo Tacchi

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Princeton U nivcrsity Press. Turner. F. 2006. From ( 'nuntcrculturc to ( :rlwrculture: StcH'art Brand. the Whole

Across the\\ orld. 11 hat constitutes democratic participation is being debated ( Cia1 cnta 2006). Democracy is the language or militarily imposed change. ncolibcralmarkct rorccs and international dn clopmcnt agendas (A ppadurai 2002: Ciil\ cnta 2006 ). Participation is considered to he a cornerstone or democracy and of' international dc1 clopmcnt--a building block or rdorm and progress. While democracy speaks to formal political participation. central to this notion or participation arc i~sucs that can be encompassed by the idea or '1 oicc .. Voice is about the a gene) to represent on esc! r and the right to express an opinion. The promise or1oicc the opportunity to speak. is central be heard and have some influence 01 cr decisions that arkct one's lik

Larth iv'etll'lwk. and the Rise oj'JJigitol Cto;Jiani.lm. Chicago: Uni1 crsity or Chicago Press. Watts. L. 200X. Orkney: Landscapes or Future Resistance. Paper presented at 4S/ EASST 200X, Erasmus University Rotterdam. August. http://cprints.lancs.ac.uk/ 11452/. Wetmore. J. 2007. Amish Technology: Reinforcing Values and Building Community. /1:'1:'/:' Tcclmologr al/il Socie/1' ivfoga::ine 26(2 ): I 0 21. Wilson, P.. and M. Stewart. 200X. Ulohullndigcnous .tfedia: Cultures. l'octic.1. and

to the institutional legitimacy or contemporary democracies (Couldry 2010). It is also core to a rights-based approach to international dc1clopmcnt (Sen 1999. 2002) and to discourses and policies around social and digital inclusion and exclusion. Voice and participation arc highly charged and promoted concepts in de\ clopmcnt that point to a tension bet\\ ccn an impcrati1c to engage closely 11 ith the local situations and needs or aid recipient communities. and the modcrni;ation paradigm that continues to underpin de\ clopmcnt policies and practices. While attention is gi1 en to the issues or voice and participation broad field or de\ clopmcnt. As James Ferguson ( Jl)94) demonstrates in The .lnti-l'olitics .\lachine. dc\clopmcnt is a central organi;.ing concept or our time that tiamcs our thinking about much or the \\orieL It is a political project and has also become an intcrprcti1 c grid. pr01 iding meaning ror a range of obscn at ions. This is not to suggest that 'dc1 clopmcnt' is an uncontested concept. hut that it is a contemporary problematic that impuscs questions rather than ans\\Crs. This chapter 11 ill rocus upon t110 distincti1 c sub!iclds or development communication for development (C-1-D) and inrormation and communication technology ror development ( ICT -1-D)---through two case studies of recent research on the relationship between media. tcclmolngy and dc1 clopmcnt. This chapter explores di!fcrcnccs between the two suh!iclds \\ ithin anthropology's broader critique or dc\cJopmcnt. taking
LIS

f'olitics. Durham, NC: Duke University Press. Xiang. B. 2007. Glohal '/Jodr ,')hnjJjiing ': An Indian l.ahor Srstem in the Jnjimnation lichnologr lndustrr. Princeton. NJ: Princeton University Press.
Yi-Shan-Ciuan. 2006. Nick Ycc\ Daedalus Project: The Psychology of'MMORPCis. Untitled entry. http://www.nickycc.com/dacdalus/archil cs/00 14lJ3. Zandbcrgcn. D. 2011. New Edge. Technology and Spirituality in the San Francisco Bay Area. PhD thesis. Lcidcn University.

ror instance through the World Bank's Voices

of the Poor programme - -l~tr less attention is gi1 en to ideas around 'listening in the

Jimn digital di1 ide agendas to notions

226 !Jigitul i1nthro;)()/ogr


of a particiratory culture. The lirst study is an experiment in participatory content creation with a focus on issues of v oicc. conducted in South ;\sia. The second case study involves a project in Ncral that explores issues around the valuing or recognition of voice what we might think of in terms of listening. The case studies will be used to illustrate some key challenges for C4D. ICT4D and the ideals of participation.\\ ith implications l(lr dcvclopmcntmmT broadly. and the ways in which digital anthropology can inl(mll these dnclopmcnt agendas. Following Ferguson ( 1094). I am less concerned here with how and why development became such a central concept and problematic and more interested in \\hat its ciTccts arc on the world through dcvclormcnt practice. While appreciating and critiquing de\ clopmcnt discourse and rhetoric as olicn performing a l(mn of Western hegemony. I am equally concerned with the complexities of how this is translated. cmbn1ced. resisted and cxrcricnccd through practice. In this way the chapter aims to a\oid an overly populist and deconstructionist approach to development (Olivier de Sardan 2005) in l~t\our of exploring particularities of development through practice.

/)igirul Fngugcmcnl 227


lnagaki 2007). ;\participatory communic;ttion approach is high!) compkmcntan to new digital communication em ironmcnts. because it promotes lwri/ontal and participatory models of de\ clopmcnt rather than\ crtical. one-\\ ay. top-do\\ nor trickledown models more suited to modernization and economic grn\\th approachc,; to dn clopmcnt (Sen acs 200X: Waisbord 200 I). Yet \\hi lc modcmi/ation and di fTusion models of de\ clopmcnt and of" de\ clopmcnt communication arc generally con,;idcrcd to be outdated (Waisbord 2001. 200X). they still appear to gu!(k policy and practice ( lnagaki 2007: Mansell 20 II). When it comes to the field of ICT4D. the effort and fi.1cus tends to he on inJHl\ alive applications of information and communication ll'chnology tm\ ards ccOJHllllJC growth and on clticicnt dissemination ofinf(mnation. thus placing most ol"thc agency on the technology and its de\ elopers rather than on poor and marginali/cd populations (Unwin 2009). ICT is seen hy some proponents in this field as ha\ ing made a progrcssi\ c contribution to de\ clopmcnt. largely missing its inherent promise f(lr transti.mnation--disrupti\c technologies. according to llccks (20 I 0). can deliver resources llmn North to South and can transfi.mn development it sci r Such a l(lcus on the transfi.mnational qualities of ICT as a uni\crsal good and uni\crsal concept tend

Development, Media, Communication and the Digital


L:mcrging in the wake of World War II. notions of development olicn incorporated modcrni,ration theory frameworks wherein Third World countries had not yet reached the stage of development oiTirst World countries situated largely in the West (Crewe and Harrison 190X: t:scobar 1995 ). Erl(lrts to move different societies f(mntrd on the pathway to development involved. among other things. the introduction of modern technologies ( Waisbord 200 I). From the introduction of production technologies and industries for f~trmcrs. medical technologies and f~unily planning to mass media programming and the recording. of mctrics of media infrastructure such as a free press. radio and (most recently) Internet and mobile phone penetration rates. notions of technology transl"cr as a \\ ay to shape and change the current socioeconomic situation remain central to development agendas (Gardner and Lewis 1996 ). Within this broader context. C4D has emerged as a field of knowledge and of practice (Waisbord 200X: Wilkins :WOO: Wilkins and Mody 2001 ). Scrvaes (200X) suggests that while the words used to define C4D might have changed over time. since the mid-1070s definitions contain reasonably constant themes. These revolve around communication techniques and media as participatory processes for social change and dialogue as key to socially inclusive processes (for example Fraser and Ville! 1994: Rogers 1976: United Nations 1997: World Congress on Communication f(lr lkvclopmcnt 2006 ). The underlying theories of development communication ha\C shilled quite significantly over time towards participatory communication paradigms. Ideas of communication as exchange. meanings and processes rather than about the transmission of messages ha\ c concretized. even i I" this is yet to be as widely or t"ully practised as generally thought (Fraser and Restrepo-Estrada 199X:

to obscure particularities of poor and marginali,rcd populations. rcinfi.1rcc normati\ c modcrni,ring models ofdc\clopmcnt (lJm,in 2009) and maintain a notion oftcchnology as a solution to the problem of" de\ elopmcnt
1\

hich can he addressed through

increased cfticicncy in production (I leeks 2005 ). The hum:tn de\ clopmcnt goal ofc.xpanding. peorlc\ ficcdoms and capabilities (Sen 19')9) is olicn unconnected to technologically focused in ten cntions \\ hich arc informed more hy studies of inf(mnation systems than development studies (Hccks 20 I 0). On the one hand. the promotion of new ICTs fi.1r development. based as much on their promise as practical demonstrations of c1Tcctivcncss. has undoubtedly led to many 1nno\ ati\ c c.xpcrimcnts but equally to a rapid evolution and expansion or technological dl'lcrminist responses fiom development agencies (Article 19 2005: ] ). ICTs ha\ c been promoted as trans formative technologies creating nc\v "kno\\ledge economics" and nct\\orkcd societies (Castel is J<)lJ(J: Sch\yn 2004). The term 'digital di\idc" emerged as a stark indicator oftlwsc \\ho arc part of. and those \\llll arc not part ot: these nC\\ developments. but the term has recently been questioned and has largely ntJicn OUt or USC except hy those \VIlll arc l(lCUscd mainly on technologies and infrastructure. The concept has been considered less uscfiil than "digital inequality" or 'digital inclusion" (DiMaggio and llargittai 2001: Sch\yn 2004) as ways to describe the relationships bl'l\\Ccn ICTs and dc\clopmcnt to those\\ ho arc more f(1cuscd on development itself. There arc complc.x interrelationships bl'l\\ ccn social and tcchnolog.ical ncl\\orks and issues of access \Crsus ctTccti\c usc or engagement ( Warschaucr 200.\ ). Whi lc the term digital di\ ide \\as usct"ul in high Iighting gaps in infiastructurc as well as more tine-grained issues of" social and economic status and access. a major problem was the \\ay digital di\idc policy debate,; focused almost cxclusi\ ely on macro issues. assuming that digital technologies arc hcncficial

l
228 /)igilul Anthmpologr
I )igital /:ngagcn!c/11 229

to all citizens and the only barrier to closing the gar is lack ol' access. As Robin Mansell (2002) pointed out, intcrrrctations ol' the causes and consequences or the divide were inadequate, and because of this, so were actions to bridge the di\ ide or to understand its consequences. The disadvantages ol'bcing on the \Hong side of the divide were seen as stemming Irom the ways in\\ hich social and technical relationships were understood at a rosition removed ilmn actual rrac!iccs rather than how they v\ ere Iivcd. i\s anthropologists have highligh!cd, Mansell (20 II) calls our a11cntion to the way that dc\clopmcnt\ prckrcncc f(Jr a "one knm\ ledge system' lltils to appreciate the rolitical nature of knowledge and the imrortancc of multiple know ledges. Local know ledges arc complex cultural constructions. ottcn with di ffcrcnt modes of operation and relations to social and cultural fields ( Lscobar 1995 ). lkv elormcnt attempts to recodify local knowledge to make it useable li1r development ac!ivitics. with a goal or enhancing expert knowledge and increasing tht: chances ol' success f(Jr development brokers. While certain l'orms ol' uni\crsal knowledge -especially concerning scientific or health-related knowledge --are seen as tixcd. it is the particularity of local knowledge that makes it valuable in a human dcvclormcnt or rarticipatory aprroach, but often because it might rrovidc insights about how to implement external development in ten cntions or change local knm\ ledge and practice rather than to inform and change development agendas. Here is a central issue f(Jr development as prac!icc: how do we account fi1r and respond to "worlds and know ledges othcnv isc' (Escobar 2007)'! A digital anthropology might emphasize the existence and importance of multiple know ledges as a means to understand what it is that makes us human. In light of these perspectives on the relationship between communication, knmvlcdgc, ICT and dt:vclopmcnt. two concepts arc particularly useful in conceptualizing tht: current moment: voice and listening. Drawing upon collaborative research. the two case studies explore notions of voict: and listening further. We learned through a research projcc! called Finding a Vnice that finding ways to give voice to a range or people through traditional and new media technologies docs not necessarily mean that the listening end of the equation will simply !~til into place even if engaging. content is product:d. We learned through a project called Assessing Communication f(n Social Change (AC4SC) that while it is possible to set up local processes for listening. the knowledge produced is not necessarily in a I(Jrmat that development agencies arc predisposed to listen to.

Case Study One: Voice-Finding a Voice


Voice is about the agency to represent oneself and the right to cxrt-css an opinion. These arc literal mt:anings of the word, in common understanding. Following Couldry ( 20 I 0). voice is both a process and a value. By voice as a process. he means the process of giving. an account of one's lil'c and its conditions. By voice as a value.

he means the act of\ aluing. and choosing to \ aluc. those liamC\\ orb l\1r ort!anizing human Iii\: and resources that themselves value \oice (as a process). \\c might learn important lessons flotn studying examples of\ ~tluing \ oicc in de\ elopmcnt. Through directly t:xamining \Oicc in dc\clopmcnt acti\ities \\C arc able to understand whether and how voice is \ alued in a range of contexts: \\ c can c.\plorL' the role of traditional and digital media and communication technologies and uncm cr the implications l(lr de\ elopment. Voice has been linked to participatory de\ clopmcnt, but this is ollcn \Vith specific rcl'crcncc to\ oicc as process. so that the\ aluing or\ oicc receives fitr less attention. The project Finding a Voice took an ethnographic approach to a multisitcd stud~ of and experiment in digital content creation.' The project \\as made up of a research network of tilkcn local media and ICT initiati\cs in India. NepaL Sri Lanka and Indonesia. Some of the sites \\ere community radio stations. some \\ere \ideo pwjccts and others were computer and resource centres or community libraries. /\II had or were provided access to computers and the Internet. The goals of Finding a Voice \\ere to increase understanding of hm\ ICT can be both ellccti\ c and cmpm\ cring. in each local context. to investigate the most clfccti\ c \\ays of articulating inl(mnation and communication networks (both social and technological) to empm\ cr poor people to communicate their\ oices \\ ithin and beyond marginalized communities. This imohed researching opportunities and constraints I(Jr local content created b) and f(Jr specific local communities I(Jr the development and communication of ideas. inf(mnation and perspectives appropriate to those communities. It took place at a time when many development agencies \\ere ill\csting. in ICT-t]) initiati\cs and \\ere keenly interested in better understanding the de\ clopmcnt potential of nc\\ dit!ital technologies. The project began with a broad definition of voice essentially rckrring to ideas around sclf:.cxprcssion. inclusion and participation in sociaL political and economic processes. There was a specific f(Jcus on ICT and de\ clopmcnt at the community le\ el and the significance of voice in terms of po\ crty "\ oicc po\ crty' understood as the inability of people to influence the decisions that afkct their li\cs and the right to participate in that decision making (Lister 2004 ). According to /\ppadurai ( 200-l: 63) one of the poor's g.ra\ est lacks' is the lack of resources \\ ith \\ h ich to gi \ c ""\ oicc .... This is about the poor being able to express thcmschcs in order to influence political debates around \\ calth and wcllllrc so that their ll\\ n \Vel litre is gi\ en due attention. Voice in ICT4D implies access and skills to usc tcclmologies and platl(mns. Hm\cver. access is a complicated and complex notion that is multidimensionaL dependent upon a range of conditions. and not simply about the physical. It embraces cognitive. alfccti\ c. politicaL economic and cultural domains (Rice and Atkin 200 I). The project had three distinct components. The first component \\as capacity development. We \\orked v\ ith members of the local media initiati\cs to de\ clop capacity in local research and in digital content creation. Each local initiati\c employed a local researcher \\ho \\c trained in an approach called ethnographic action research

230 /)igital /lnthm;)()/ogr


(Tacchi ct al. :2007). They l(mmxl a ncl\\ork of local researchers and shared data and experiences through a specially designed \\ebsitc. They researched local communities and their engagements with the media initiative. including the usc of digital technologies. We also trained these local researchers and other statlli01n the local sites in nc\\ content creation techniques and l(mnats through a series of vv orkshops based on a training-of-trainers approach. Participants then adapted the techniques and processes we introduced according to their
0\\

/)iuirul ,...,

1-."ll"<i<'<"IIWIII ,--, ,....,

2J I

prov idcd a good example of\\ hy and IHl\\ special ci'I(Jrt is required to achic\ c participation from the most excluded (Tacchi and (iruhh :2007). TilL' young people lived in settlements v cry close to a communit; media L'Cillrc. hut their cngagL'mL'nt "as minimal. Access \\as not limited because of geographical distance. since the voung people lived \cry close. Rather. their access
\\<IS

limited hLLausc orcthniL and lin-

guistic marginali/ation and other burdens or C:\tn:mc pm crty and disadv anlage. :\ three-\\ heeled motori/cd v chicle fitted \\ ith a radio outside broadcast unit. laptop. mobile Internet connection. loudspeakers and projector. called the cTuktuk. trav cllcd to their houses in an ci'I(Jrt to engage them in
participator~

n local strategies and conditions.

One particularly uscl"ul l(mnat \\e introduced. which \vas taken up. adapted and applied in a \ aricty of ways across the sites. ''as digital storytelling. Digital stories arc generally three- to live-minute multimedia creations using digital images and voiceovers. told in the first person (llartlcy and McWilliam :2009). Across the sites. digital storytelling'' as l(nll1d to be an interesting way to encourage participation and engage the voices of people who otherwise have no access to the media. Through this approach they ''ere able to express their concerns about \ arious social or personal issues. The stories produced were distributed in a variety of l(mllats such as DVD. video. and streaming or downloadable l(mnah on the web. television. radio (minus images) and community screenings. The second component was to l(lllmv the local development of participatory content creation acti,ities in each site. Lach site is different. has access to different 1:1cilities and media. and I:Iccs different local circumstances. The range of stories emerging and the varied strategies l(lr participatory content creation employed by each site were captured through the accounts of the local researchers or site visits by the academic researchers. In all sites the process of engaging people in participatory content creation activities was challenging l(n a range of reasons. Consequently. a \aricty of strategies emerged (Watkins and Tacchi 200X). Lxamining the varied experiences across the sites. we l(nll1d that as a development activity. participatory content creation through digital ( olicn combined with traditional) media and communication technologies is a uscl"ul mechanism I(Jr achieving levels of participation that arc hard to achieve in \\ idcr development practices (Tacchi 2009). Digital tcchnologics and participatory content creation can contribute to\\ idcr development agendas when they arc taken up and adapted to local social and cultural contexts. presenting an interesting and tangible mechanism I(Jr ensuring levels of participation in wider development initiatives. For example. in an Indian ICT centre for \\omen located in a Delhi slum. local researcher ;\seem Asha lJsman developed a\ ocational media course l(lr young women. Digital storytelling \\as one of the main components in the three-month media course he developed. \\ hich also covered web design and multimedia production. lie developed the course to fill a gap in the local cmploymcntmarkcti(Jr creative design skills. It became very clear that the mostmarginali/cd or excluded groups needed to be acti\cly and creatively engaged in ways that suited their needs and circumstances. Simply providing the technologies and opportunities to participate was not enough. The usc of a mobile tclcccntrc in Sri Lanka as a means to engage with Tamil youth

content CrLation. The

young people's conll'nt \\as screened to their Lunilics and friends using the projector in the cTuktuk. This relates to the third component or the prujcct. "htch \\as concerned \\ ith \\hat happened \\ ith conll'nt and hmv it contributed to ideas about dcv clopmcnt. This third component \\as less \\CII developed through the project. as most of our ci'I(Jrt "as directed to\\ ards encouraging nc\\ and inclusiv c l(ll"lns or content creation. flmvcvcr.
\\L'

did spend some time \\orking "ith ltll'al rcscarLhcr~. starr

and participants to think through stratcgics I(Jr distribution. dcv clopL'd by and geared tm\ards the mcrall aims of each centre. The hulk of the content produced across the sites was circulated to local audiences. 1:or digital stories this\\ as olkn through local screenings to small gatherings to generate discussion about the issues raised. The screenings were an cflcctiv c mechanism I(Jr raising
~1\\

arcncss. sharing pcrspcc-

tiv cs and encouraging others to make their O\\ 11 content and hav c a v nice to the extent that this kind of activity allo\\S. Some of the contcnt created in the early phase or this project \\as subtitled in English and circulated h) lll\ESCO on a DVD \\ ith the idea of sharing di ITcrcnt pcrspcctiv cs on development themes. This is both interesting and usefuL but in terms of day-to-day activ itics at the\ arious centres. preparing their content for wider audiences. even given the nistcncc of digital distribution platl(mns. is olicn not a li:asible regular activity or useful l(lr their purposes." hich arc I(Jcuscd on locally appropriate dcv clopmcnt. Among the strategic rL'quircmcnts specified in the RomL' Consensus dcv eloped by the World Congress on Communication I(Jr lkvclopmcnt (:20()(,) arc access to communication tools so that people can communicate amongst thL'msclv cs and\\ ith decision makers. recognition of the need l"or dilfcrcnt approaches depending on
dil~

l'crcnt cultures and support to those most afkctcd by development issues to hav c a say. Finding a Voice f(nmd that many people \\ant to usc media to highlight social issues or demonstrate hmv one might challenge adv crsity. olicn through the dcv icc of providing an inspirational C:\amplc. We also l(nllld that other kinds or engagements \\ith media that arc about
scll~c.\prcssion

\\ere popular. Llitimatcly. Finding

a Voice was interested in the \\ays in \\hich practices of,oicc (through ICT) might be articulated into wider practices of social and political action and change. hut our efforts focused largely on setting up processes I(Jr v nice\\ ith li1r less opportunity to examine or promote the valuing of voice. hen given the apparent ai'I(Jrdanccs and

232 !Jigitol ilnthm;wlogr

accessibility ofncvv digital media. a huge amount orci'I(Jrt vvas required l(ll the local initiatives to develop processes l(ll voice that included the most marginali/cd populations. This highlights the deeply questionable notions ~!round ncvv media and social media as themselves a l(mn or participatory culture. It also indicates the need to think beyond this. to vvhat Couldry (2010) calls 'voice that matters". Finding a Voice rcvcaled some interesting: and promising: opportunities l(ll developing: processes ror voice. llmvcvcr. we need to think carefully about hmv to encourage active listening. Debate and dialogue, vv hich arc considered central to participatory dcv clopmcnt. clearly happened in many or our research sites. and this proved important in many vvays at the local leveL but hmv this translated into action to intlucncc vv idcr social change. and by whom. calls ror li1rthcr research.

Case Study Two: Listening-Assessing Communication for Social Change


In both ('4[) and ICT4D there is an emphasis on the delivery orinformationJi01n dcvclopmcnt agencies and experts to poor populations. The focus in impact assessment is most olicn on w hcthcr those poor populations arc listening ciTcctivcly and thcrcI(Jrc on whether their lives and bchav iours change as a result. This is to place the emphasis in terms of listening on poor people and is based Oil the assumption that knowledge resides with the developers. Ideas around voice challenge this relationship and have given rise to a broadening of ideas about what constitutes pov crty (Narayan ct al. 2000) as well as new ways or engaging with poor people through participatory assessments or their experiences based on dialogue (Chambers 1997). Thl:SC approaches introducl: altl:rnativc ways or thinking about the spl:akl:r listener relationship. It is through the process of listening that the valuc of voice is mutually rl:gistcrcd. Susan Bickford\ w riling on politics, conllict and citi/cnship ( 1996) points out hmv political theory has consistently I(Jcusl:d on the politics of spl:aking but has paid scant attention to listening. Attention to listening I(Jregrounds questions of recognition ( llonncth ll)l)) ). receptivity and rcsponsiv cncss. In its many l(mnulations. the politics of rl:cognition centres on the esteem. value and attl:ntion given to social and cultural dilfcrcncl: as qul:stions of justice. on attention and response as questions or communicativ c justice. In the context of media and communication. justice becomes a qul:stion not simply or access to production but also or the quality or relationships between speakers and listeners, mcdiatl:d by institutions. To put it another vvay. the politics of recognition suggests that a redistribution of material resources l(lr speaking or voicc is inadl:quatl: unless thc!T is also a shill in the hierarchies of value and attention accorded difiCrcnt actors and communitil:s. While thl: participatory (k\ clopmcnt paradigm places dialogue at the centre or development. we still fundamentally lack an understanding of the inJ(mnation and communication needs and aspirations of people

vv ho arc marg:inali/.cd or socially excluded. We need to more cJ'ICcti\ cl~ listen across di lfcrcncc and incqual ity (Dreher 2009 ). We learned through Findmg a Voice that in assisting people to create content and express thcmsclv cs through digital media. one cannot assume thnc is anyone listening. The vcry institutions that excluded communities might usefully try to engage vvith through ICT arc olicn structurally unsuited l(lr listening. hen through their monitoring and cv aluation activ itics. dcv clopmcnt agcncil:s arc olicn only looking l(lr and able to idcntit~ (or listening to and able to hear) predetermined indicators that arc readily measurable (Lennie and Tacchi 20 12). Development generally positions poor populations as listeners rather than people whom they should he listening: to. To present this challenge in concrete terms. \\C can explore an example Ji0111 Nepal a project called Assessing l'lllllmunication l~1r Social Change: A New Agenda in Impact Assessment (i\C.fSC).' Underpinning AC'4S(' \Vas recognition orthc importance of listening and responding to difiCrcnt knovvlcdg:es. AC.fSC \\as a collaboration \\ ith Equal Access Nepal ( EA N ). a local development communication organi/al ion that makes and distributes radio programmes vv ith dcv clopmcnt goals. A range or radio programmes arc produced. andEAN works with local radio stations and gov crnmcnt and nongm crnmcnt bodies and groups to communicate V\ ith communities acmss Nepal. Since Nepal is an ethnically and linguistically diverse country. and geographically challenging: in tnms or travel. local partners arc crucial to LAN\ operations. Some programmes. or programme scgml:nts. arc repackaged by local radio stations into local languages. EAN also supports a network of local listener groups. ranging: Jimn young: people who listen to the youth-oriented programme ('hutting to .\II' /Jest Friend to broader groups who listen to programmes\\ ith a\\ idcr audience in mind. such as .\n1 .\epa/. which I(Jcuscs on raising: a\\ arcncss o I' ncv\ govern a nee structures. just icc and security issues and constitutional rcJ'orms. AC4SC was a project that developed and implemented a participatory methodology l~ll evaluating the impacts ol'the radio programs pruduccd by FAN. It g:rcvv out ol'an interest Jimn EAN to learn how to improve its programmes and demonstrate its impact. It offered a team oi'Australian researchers (including three anthropologists); a chance to vvork vv ith FAN ov cr four years. and help it dcv clop monitoring: and l:\ aluation system that enabled it to listen to the people the programmes arc trying: to reach. The impact assessment methodology that V\ as dcv eloped and implemented inl~mllcd EAN \ programming. its funding applications and its reports to donors. The methodology incorporates ethnographic principles of long-term engagement and immersion with communities and combines them \\ ith many or the ICatures or participatory action research (Tacchi. Lennie and Wilmore 20 I 0). l:sscntially the research vvas about assessing the impact or FAN\ \\ ork by prnducing data through qualitative engagements V\ith local communities. The bulk or the data vv ere gl:ncratcd hy eight community researchers. vv lw vv ere people frnm those communities trained in appropriate data collection methods. This produced qualitativ.c data in a way that aimed to not only prove impact to LAN\ donor

234 /Jigitul:lnthro;)()/ogr
organi;rations hut also to allo\\ the organi;ration to imprm c its practices (Lennie, Tacchi and Wilmore 2012). llowc\CL in attempting to mmc away li0111 an information delivery (top-down) model or communication li.1r de\ clopmcnt and to work closer to the ground in terms of generating research data, Li\N met with a level of complexity and uncertainty in its data. which made it dillicult to tick the required donor boxes and olkn challenged the evaluation approach or donors and their indicators li.1r impact. While i\C4SC clearly increased Fi\N 's capacity to be rcsponsi\ c and develop more nuanced understandings of its audiences, the data generated through this kind of listening arc not easily translatable into donor reports. Nm\ that/\( '4S( has finished as a discrete project, the processes developed continue to he used and adjusted to suit 1-:i\N\ needs, and the organi;r.ation has changed in hm\ it considers its relationship to communities and donors. The challenge remains that donors continue to maintain their position and remain unsuited to listening to dif!Crcnt kinds of evaluations. Chambers and Pettit (2004: 1.\7) capture this situation \\hen they write about the \\ay that development rhetoric has changed in recent years, to include new words like ;wrlnership, partici;)(f/inn and IJWISfJUrenn-_ \\ hich imply 'changes in power and relationships, hut Iwhich I have not been matched in practice': rather, power and relationships arc governing dynamics that in practice 'pi-event the inclusion of weaker actors and voices in decision-making'. Dnelopment rules and procedures arc a part of what needs to be changed, to open up to di ITcrent ways of operating, to a lim\ li.1r dif!Crcnt voices and prevent this structural stilling or meaningful participation. To this end, AC4SC high! ights the kinds of relationships that development agencies encourage and allow despite their rhetoric. and the project demonstrates a push li.1r change, providing both detailed alternative approaches and examples and alternative indicators of success. lkvelopmcnt might he li1r more c!Tcctivc if listening happened with people on the ground, building relationships at that level. The Listening Project (2009) has talked to development workers and communities across a range of countries globally and has l(nll1d a consistent story whereby 'systems of international assistance bias the ways that agencies and aid workers listen and do not listen. what they listen to, where and when they listen, and to whom they listen'. This is about acknowledging and respecting alternative l(mns or knowledge: something which perhaps presents us\\ ith one of our biggest challenges. Being prepared to accept andrespect alternative knowledge and knowledge practices. which may be contradictory to dominant knowledge practices and belie!';, is challenging. especially to development.
liaditionalmedia
Vertical
pattern~ or COtntlll\lliCation

I )igi!ul Fngugcmcn! 235

li.1r lk\ clopmcnt 200Cl) and political transl(mnation made possible through net\\ orkcd social production ( lknkler 2006: Caste lis 2009). The idea of al'l(mlanccs (Norman 2002) relates to the constraining and enabling material possibilities of media. The nc\\ communication em ironment made up ol' digital technologies appears to change the possibilities I(H dc\clopmcnt to enable 1;1r more lwri/ontal processes, possibilities l(lr exchange and multiple inl(mnatton sources. pro\ iding thL' pcrkct communication em ironment for participatory de\ clopmcnt tll thri\ c. :\s Table 11.1 illustrates, nc\\ possibilities emerge li.1r conmumication l(x dc\clopmcnt. One way is to replace message deli\ cry \\ ith nct\\orks, so that inl(mnation tiom multiple sources might he a\ailable in response to questions rather than preempting or predetermining \\hat those questions should be. Hm\c\cr, claims about the transl(mnati\c potential ol' digital tcclmolllgics for development arc not necessarily consistent\\ ith human de\ elopmcnt aspirations. but rather\\ ith Western-centric models <li' de\ clopmcnt and economic gnm th (Mansell 2011 ). While such technologies arc 'accompanied by major structuraL culturaL sncial and economic transformations' (Manscll2011: 2) that hold potcntiall'or participation, dc\clopmcnt. political transli.m11ation and nct\\orking. undnlying notions lll' development l'ollo\\ a mmlerni/ation agenda. Analysing a sample ol' texts published between 199X and 2009 from United Nations agencies and the World Bank, l'vlanscll rc\ eals the predominant exogenous model of de\ elopmcnt. c\ en \\hen alternati\ c and participatory or endogenous models of de\ clopment arc considered to ha\ e influenced the policies and practices of these agencies. Many ha\ c critiqued the digital divide agenda prckrring to think about digital inclusion and cngagcmL'nL yet the activities and policies of major de\ clopmcnt agencies remain\\ cddcd to ideas resonant with digital di\ ide discourse. Development complicates a straightl(m\ ard consideration ol' the inherent al'li.mlanccs ol' technologies and the \\ ays they arc used. 0\ cr the past li\ c to ten \'Cars. mobile phones ha\ c become a key example of this. Whereas economics (.len sen

Tahlt' II. I.

i'hL Ne" ( ummunteali<lll ltn ironment


-----------

.\'ew alii/ \ocialmedia


!!om go\ ernI h)ri;lmtal
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Conclusions
There arc many studies of the am1rdanccs and potential of new and traditional media technologies I(Jr participation, voice and development (cr. Currie 2007: Deane 2004: International Telecommunication Union 2005: World Congress on Communication

Easy to control-

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236 Uigitul AnthrojJo/og\


2007), business (Prahalad 2006) and other disciplines and public comcrsations stress the potential ol' mobile phones l'or economic gnmth, ethnographic and other work on mobile phones in these contexts has led to more complex insights. Archambault's (20 II) study in rural Mm~ambiquc reveals how mobiles simultaneously operate as part ol'thc inl(lrmal economy, creating economic opportunities f(lr some individuals, hut Archambault also notes that 'the \\ays in which mobile communication participates in the circulation ol'and access to inl(mnation: not necessarily the kind ol' .. uscl'ul inf(mnation" rcll:rrcd to by endorsers ol'thc .. ICT f(lr lkvclopmcnC' perspective, hut rather inf(mnationthat is meant to remain secret' (2011 444). Horst and Miller (2006) f(lllnd that while mobiles play a role in economic growth among: lovv-incomc Jamaicans, mobile phones were valued primarily f(lr their role in the redistribution rather than accumulation ol' money. Savings and accumulation represent one ol' the key ICaturcs ol' economic development. Wallis's (20 II) recent work on the usc ol' mobile phones among young, low-wage \\omen migrants in Beijing: also reveals the ambivalent and often contradictory relationships young: women have with communication technologies like the mobile. Introducing the concept ol' 'immobile mobility' defined as 'a socio-tcchno means ol' overcoming: spatial, temporal, physical, and structural boundaries', Wallis argues that young: migrants' positionality creates 'particular constraints on their capacity l'or various l'orms ol' agency, thus rendering them relatively immobile in the labor sphere' (2011: 474). With respect to other f(mm ol' digital media, Gabriella ( "oleman (20 I 0) points out that media cannot he discussed as a universal experience. The ethnographic evidence is at best unconvincing that digital media arc solely or even primarily responsible f(lr producing 'shared subjectivity' or a new sensorium, and even less a lik world that can be used to characterize whole populations (Coleman2010). On the contrary, while digital media arc shown to play an important role in sociaL linguistic, political and economic processes as well as in perceptions and representations ol'seiC the particular details ol' how they arc experienced in the everyday argues against universal and unif(mn human experience. Yet development agencies and policies tend to assign characteristics and af"l(mlanccs ror digital technologies that converge with the rocus on economic growth as the key indicator or poverty reduction as development. This results in a normative consensus about how technologies lead to dcv clopmcnt and subsequent strategies ror technological diffusion. On the ground, in the particular moments or development interventions, such straightforward and normative agendas struggle to succeed. This touches Oil Amartya Sen's discussion or how culture matters in development (Sen 2004 ). He suggests that the neglect or considerations or cu lturc by economists have influenced the outlook and approaches of development agencies and that 'the cultural dimension or development requires closer scrutiny in de\ elopmcnl analysis' (2004: 37). For one thing:, culture is implicated in political participation. Public discussions, interactions and participation arc central to democratic practices, and such participation and political activity is influenced by cultural conditions. Since

I >i.!.!.itul rugug,mclil 237

political participation is a critical component in ideas of dn clopmcnt ccrtainlv human dcv clopmcnt and capability approaches to dev clopmcnt culture becomes an important inllucncc and setting: f(Jr development anal) sis (Sen .:.'00-1: -10 I). \\hile it is important to avoid cultural determinism, culture must be an important part ofhmv vv c understand social and economic dcv clopmcnl. Yet nliturL' is not honwgL'nL'OUS, not static; it is intcractiv c and porous. The issue l(ll Sen is not tthctht'l" culture matters, but holl: Arjun ;\ppadurai considers tt"hl culture matters in dcv clopmenl. !"he tendcnc) within dcv clopmcnt has been to understand culture as a matter of the pa,;t. as tradttion or custom. \\hile development's orientation i,; to the litlurc (o\ppadurai .:.'00-1). Fconomics has become 'the science of the future, and vv hen human being,; arc SL'Cn as having a future, the kcyvvords such as vvanh, needs. L':--pcctation,;, cakulation,;, hav c become hard\\ ired into the d iscoursc or cconom ics' ( Appadurai 200-1: (l()). Th i,; results in the association or cultural actors V\ith thL' past. and economic actor>\\ ith the ruturc, and the opposing: or culture to dcv clopmcnt. Appadurai argues that vv hilc some or the blame might be laid at the L'Conomish' door for their neglect of culture. anthropologists must bring: the future hack into ccotHlmisb' cultural liamcs. The ruturc, and people\ aspirations, arc cultural capacities. o\ppadurai (.:.'00-1) argues that. \\ ithin a dcv clopmcnt context. culture can be seen as a L'apacity vv orth strengthening:. linked to aspirations or the future (plans, hopes and goals) as much as it is rooted in the past (habit. custonL tradition). Culture. then. i,; important. along:\\ ith relationships, since it is only in relationships th;lt v;dues arc ascribed and positions defined--norms, v;dues, beliefS and aspirations arc all relational. \\hat rok do media and technology and the processes f(lr valuing: voicc and listening plav in this'! llovv might media and technology, vvhcn valuing: principles such as voice and listening. enhance 1\mns or ethnographic practice') This idea of culture its orientation tn the future and roots in tradition -and the central role ofrclationship,; in ascribing: values mean that ethnographic study is \\ell suited to capture and describe the proccssc,; that matter. These arc embedded and only acccssibk through closL' eng:agL'mcnt vv ith each context. Digital anthropology as represented in this volumc has an imptlrtant contribution to make. (iivcn the highly generalized discussions or dcvclopmcnt. these can easily become abstract goals oriented to the requirements or agencies and polic) discussions and distant liotn practice. By contrast. digital anthropology c:--amincs multiple f(mns of digital technology, recognizing: that the impact of a mobile phone might be entirely diiTcrcnlfillln the spread of local radio or the usc or Internet-based communication, and each in turn may hav c complex olicn contradictory impach on any given population. As this chapter has shtmn, the debates on C-1[) and ICT-ID must retain a level or concrete engagement and a sense or contradiction and complex consequences vv hich earlier discussions of digital divide tended to gloss ov cr. On the other hand, \\hat the dcv clopmcnt discussions add to digital anthropology is a clear agenda oriented tovvards \\ cll~trc and various f(mns of capabilit) such as

238 /Jigitul Anthropology


participation and voice, which can he lacking. in some ol' the academic discussions within more parochial anthropology. Cii\ en the sheer pm1 er and int1uence ol' de1 elopment agendas and practices. it seems ol' Immediate importance that digital anthropologists participate in such discussions and applications.

1
!

l>igitu! rngugcn!('n/ 239

Noks
I. The l'ull title ol' the project is Finding. a Voice: Making Technological Change Socially EITective and Culturally Fmpo\\ering (\\\1\\.lindinga\oice.org). The project \\as l'unded by the Australian Research Council (\\ \\\\.arc.goulll) through its Linkage grant scheme ( LPO'i(J I X4X), \\ ith strong collaboration and li1rther l'unds and in-kind support !'rom the United :--.Jations J:ducationaL Scientilic and Cultural Organi/ation (lJNFSCO) and the United Nations De\elopment Programme. The project ran li0111 ::20()(, to ::2009. Assessing Communication !'or Social Change: A Ne\\ Agenda in Impact Assessment was l'undcd by an Austral ian Research Council Linkage grant ( LP077'i::?'i::?) and Fqual Access. The project ran I(Jr I(Jur years, liom ::2007 to ::20 II. The three anthropologists were .lo Tacchi, Andre\\ Skuse and Michael Wilmore. Also on the team was .June Lennie. an e\ aluation expert.

Chambers, R .. and .1. Pettit. 2004. Shiliing P(l\\er to Make a Dtrt\.Tence. In luc!usil'l' Aid: ('hanging l'rnrcr und Rclutionlhi11.1 in lntcmutiunall >cn!olllll<'nl. L'd. L. (irmcs and R. llinton. 1.\7 (1::2. London: Larthscan. Coleman. ( i. F. ::20 I 0. I:thnograph ic Approaches tu Dig ita I Media .. lnnuul N.nitt 1 u/ /1ntlzm1wlogr .\9: 41\7 505. Couldry. N. ::20 I 0. II hr I i1icc .tluttcn: Culture und l'olitin ujtcr .\ ,nlihcruli.lll/. London: Sage. Cre\\e. E.. and L. Harrison. 199X. ll'lw.1e l>nclolmwn(' .In l:tlnwgruiJ/n o/.lid N e\\ York: Zed Books. Currie. W. 2007. Post WSIS Spaces l'or Building a (ilobal lnl(mnation Society. In Glohullnfonnutinn Socictr H(i!ch .lliiJ7: Focn1 onl'al'licilhllion. I (1 2::2. :\ssociation I(Jr Progressi1e Communications and Third World Institute. Deane. J. ::2004. The Context ofCommunication i(H De\ elopmcnt. 2004. Paper prepared /(Jr the Ninth United Nations Roundtable on ( ommunication I(H De\ elopment. (, ') September. 1:ood and Agriculture Organi/ation ol'the United \lations (F!\0). Rome. DiMaggio, P., and L Hargittai. ::200 I. From the Digital Di\ ide to Digital Inequality. Working paper. Center !'or Arts and Cultural Policy Studies. Princeton University . Dreher, T. ::2009. Listening across Di!Terence: Media and Multiculturalism beyond the Politics ol' Voice. Continuu/11: .Journal of \lcdia und Ctr!turu! Studin 23(4): 44'i 'iX. Escobar, A. 1995. l:.ncnuntering /)nclnlml<'nl: lhc .\!uking and l nrnuking of the Third flin-!d Princeton. NJ: Princeton llni\ ersity Press. Escobar. A. ::2007. World and Knm\ ledges Othem ise : The Latin AmLrican 1\lodernity/Cnloniality Research Program. ( 'ulturol Studies::? I (::2 3 ): 179 ::? I 0. Ferguson . .1. 1994. The :Inti-politics ,\lachine: 'l>lTclnlllllent. /)ciJolitici:::otion. und Bureaucratic l'mrcr in/,csnt!w. Cambridge: ('ambridge Uni\crsity Press. Fraser. C.. and S. Restrepo-Estrada. 1')9X. ( ollllllllnicatingfor /)etclolllllcnt: llull/i/11 Cl7imgcfiw Suniral. London: 1. B. Tauris. Fraser. C., and .1. Villett. 1994. Communication: .1 1\.cr to 1/umun lhTe!OIIIIICII!. Rome: Food and Agriculture Organi/ation ol' thL United Nations (1/\0). http: \\ \\\\ .I~HJ.org 1 stJlcddiJ-cct 1 cdpub/sdrepub.htm. Gardner, K .. and D. Le\\ is. 199(J. :1nthropologL /)crcluliii/CIIt und the l'mt-.\!odern ( "/wllcngc. London: Pluto Press. (iaventa . .1. ::2006. Triumph. lklicit or Contcstation' 1 Deepening the 'Deepening Democracy' Debate. IDS Working Paper ::2(14. Brighton: l11stitute of De\ elopment Studies (IDS). Hartley, .1., and K. McWilliam. eds. 2009. Storr ( 'irclc: /)igitu! Stunk/ling .1mund the fliwld Oxl(ml: Wiley-Black\\ ell. Heeks. R. ::?OO'i. ICTs and the MD(is: On the Wrong Track'' 141) online.net. http: i4donl ine.net; kh05iperspect ive. pd r.

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/)igilul !:"ngugcmcnl 2-t I

I leeks, R. 20 I 0. Do lnl(mnation and Communication Technologies (ICT~) Contribute to lkvclopmcnt'! ./ouma/ o/lnlemulionu/ /)e\e/ofllllen/22(5): 625 40. llonncth. A. I l)95. The .')tmgg/e jiif" Recognition 7Jw Mom/ Gmmnwr of Social ( "on/licls. ('ambridge: Polity Press. II orst, II., and [). M i Ikr. 2 00(J. The ( 'e/ I !'hone: ,In .In!hm1 Jo!ogy oj( 'ommun icat ion. Nt:\\ York: Berg. lnagaki, N. 2007. Communicaling the Impact oU 'ommunication !"or lk\clopmcnt: Recent Trends in hnpirical Research. Working paper. Nc\\ York: World Bank, Ikvc lopmcnt ( ommun icat ion D i\ ision. hIt p :i;,, \\\\ \\ ds. \\or Id bank.org/ ex lerna J; dchlllli/WDSC 'ontcntScrvcr/W I)S P/1 B/2007/0X/1 0/0003 I 0(1()7 20070X I 0 123.l06i Rendered/PI) F/4054.l0Commun ic I XOX2 l.l7 16 71 0 I PU I~ Ll C I .pd 1". International Telecommunication Union. 2005. Tunis Agenda I(Jr the lnli:mnation Society. World Summit on the lnl(mnalion Society. I X November. http://itu.int/ 11 sis/docs2/tunis/ol"l/(,tT\ l.pdl". Jensen, R. 2007. The Digital Prm ide: lnt(mnation (Technology). Market Pcrl"ormancc, and Wcl!~trc in the South Indian Fisheries Sector. Quurtcrh ./oumul of Fmnomic.\ 122( .l ): X79 924. Lennie, Land .1. Tacchi. 2012. l:,u/uuting Collllllltllication ji1r /)crclopment: A Framn\orkjiif" Social ( 'ha11ge. O:xi(Jrd: Earthscan, Routledge. Lennie . .1., .1. Tacchi and M. Wilmore. 2012. Mcta-1-\aluation to lmprmc Learning, haluation Capacity Dc1clopmcnt and Sustainability: Findings tiom a Participatory 1:\aluation Project in Nepal. S'outh /lsia11 .Jouma/ of/:'\'llluulion ill f'ractice I( I): l.l 2X. The Listening Project. 2009. U' Fuct.1hcct and Time/inc. http://w\l\\.cdaine.com/ ed:mww/pdt/othcr/lp fi1ctshcet 20091105 Pdf.pdL Lister. R. 2004. l'mc,fr. Cambridge: Polity Press. ManselL R. 2002. From Digital Divides to Digitall-.ntitlcmcnts in Knowledge Societies. Current Sociologr 50(.l ): 407 26. Mansell. R. 2011. Pm1er and Interests in lnt(mnation and Communication and Development: Exogenous and Endogenous Discourses in Contention . .Jouma/ o/111tcnwtiona/ nncloJIIIICIII (I 0 .July). doi: I 0.1 002/jid.l X05. Narayan, D., R. Chambers, M. Kaul Shah and P. Pctcsch. 2000. Crring Out jiil Change. Voices of the Poor series. Oxt(ml: Oxl(mllJnivcrsity Press. World Bank. Norman. D. 2002. The !Jesign o/LIerrdur Things. New York: Basic Books. Olivier de Sardan, J.-P. 2005. :lnthmJ!ology und Dnclopment: L/ndcrslanding Conlclllf!OroiT Social ( 'hangc. London: Zed Books. Prahalad, C. K. 200h. lhe Forlunc utthc Hoi/om o/tlw l'rromid: /:"rodicuting l'mertr !lmi/lgh !'ro/its. Upper Saddle River, N.J: Wharton School Publishing. Rice, R. E., and C. K. Atkin. cds. 200 I. l'uhlic Communiculioll ComJwign.\ . .lrd cd. Thousand Oaks. ('A: Sage. Rogers, F .. ed. 1976. ( 'ommuniculion and /)CIc/ofllllenl: ( 'rilical l'enpcclire.l. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

Sch\yn. N. 2004. Reconsidering Political and Popular llmkrstandings o!"thc 'Digital Di\idc' . .\nt.\JediuundSocicl\'{1(.\): .l--ll h2. Sen, A. 1999. ncTelopmcnl us Freedom. Nc\\ York: Anchor Bnoks. Sen. A. 2002. R.utionalirr und Freedom. Cambridge. 1\1/\: Belknap l>rcss. Sen. A. 2004. Hm1 Docs C'ttlturc Mattcr' 1 In ( 'ult11re und l'uh!ic .lc!ion. cd. \.Ran and M. Walton, .l7 57. Stanford. CA: Stant(mlllni\crsity Press. Scrvacs . .1., cd. 200X. ( 'ommllllicalionjiJI" nc'\'eiOfJ/1/en/ and Socicil ( 'lwllgc. Londlln: Sage. Tacchi . .1. 2009. Finding a Voice: Digital Storytelling as Participatory lk\clopmcnt. In Storr Circle: /)igital Srorr!cl/ing .lm11nd the lliJI"/d cd . .1. llartk~ and K. \1cWilliam, 167 75. O:xl(ml: Wiky-Biacblcll. Tacchi . .1., J. Fildes, K. Martin, K. Muknahalli. F. Baulch and.\. Skusc. 2007. 1:"!1!nogmphic Aclion R.cscurch: li"aincn 1/undhook. Delhi: UNI SCO. http: car. tindingavoicc.org. Tacchi. Land B. (lrubb. 2007. The Case ot"lhc c-Tuktuk . .\!cdiu ln!clnulionul .111.1tnz/ia lncorporuling ( "ulturc allil l'olicr 125: 71 X2. Tacchi . .1., .1. Lennie and M. Willmore. 20 I 0. Critical Reflections on !he l sc o!" Participatory Methodologies to Build L\ aluation Capacities in International De\ clopmcnt Organisations. Presented at the ALARA World Congress. Melbourne. 6 9 September. http:! 1\lc2010.alara.nct.au;htmllpapcrs t.html. United Nations. 1997. L'.\ Resolution 5/:17:!. http: \\\1\l.undcnwcran.com A-RES-51 172.pdl". Um1 in, T. 2009. lnf(mmltion and Communication in De\ clopmcnt Practices. In /( '7"4/): Jnjimnulion and ( 'omm11ninllion l(c/nwlogr jl!l" /Jct"l'lnJimcnl, cd. T. lJim in, .l9-75. Cambridge: Cambridge Llni\crsity Press. Waisbord, S. 2001. Familr Tree o/TIIC'oric.\, ,\!c!lwdologic.' und Srrulcgie.' in !hTL'iopmcnl ( 'ommunicolion. South Orange, N.l: Communication !(lr Social Change. WaisbonL S. 200~. The Institutional Challenges ol" Participalory Communication in International Aid. Social ldmtilies 14(4): 505. Wallis. C. 2011. Mobile Phones without Cluarantccs: TilL' Pwmiscs of kchnolog) and the Contingencies ot"Culturc. /\nr .\!cdia and Sociclr 13: 471 X5. Warschaucr, M. 200.l. 7L'chnologr and Social Inclusion. Relhin/,ing the I )igilal /)iI'idc. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Watkins, L and J. Tacchi, cds. 200X. !'orliciJ)(i/OIT Conflnf Crealion/iJI" /)cTclnJImcnl: !'rinciplcs und l'rucriccs. Nc\\ Delhi: UNI SCO. Wilkins, K .. cd. 2000. Redcrc/oping ( 'omm11niu11ion /iii Social ( 'hungc: T/!('OI"l". !'mel icc und l'cnrer Boulder. CO: Rm\ nwn & Littldicld. Wilkins, K., and B. Mody. 20(ll. Reshaping De\ clopmcnt Communication: De\ eloping Communication and Communicating De\ clopmcnt. ( onzmunicu/ion TheOIT 11(4): .lX5 96. World ( 'ongrcss on Communication f(lr De\ clopmcnt. 200(,. R.onll' ( o/1.\('/1.111.1 http: \\"\\W. uneca.org/a tiicanmcdia/chlctlmcnts 'Rcet 1mmcndat il 1ns RcllllL' ( ( Hlscnsus. pd L

PartY Designing Digital Anthropology

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-12Design Anthropology: Working on, with and for Digital Technologies


Adam Dra:::in

Many or thl: digital tL:chnologiL:s which \\ l: take rur grantl:d ha\ l: hL'L'Il dl:sJgnl:d with the critical input or anthropological work and thinking: thl: personal computL:r. L:-maiL '' indm\ s-typc intnl~lcl:s and smartplwnL:s arc all l:.\amples or things '' hich sincl: the 1970s anthropologists ha\ c helped to shape. The things and the li\ cs \\ hich digital anthropologists \\ ork on arc in small part products or anthropology as \\ell as study objects. hut you \\ill not ah\ ays lind this ackno\\ ledgL:d in boob and articles. I outline in this chapter hm\ the sublicld 110\\ knm\ n as design anthropolog:~ has de\ eloped hand-in-hand \\ ith the study or the digital and \\ ith digital \\ ays or \\orking--onc or many parallel lie ids concerned \\ ith computing and I c\ aluatc some or the contributions to emerge. My main argument is that the digital artcl;1cts which arc created and used (olicn con\ crgcntl;) in design anthropology amount to \\hat llarnm ay ( I 991 : I l) I ) calls si tuatcd knm\ ledgL:s . or. more spcci lically. partiaL locatahle. critical kmm ledges. In dL:sign \\ork. digital artcl;1cts arc used'' hen abstractions ol'physical l'urms and contc\ts arc required (!'or c\ample a digital model or a putative product which docs not yet l:\ist). and these lit collaborati\ c thinking \\ ork in a team. My secondary aim is to prm ide an introduction to the history and terminology or our work'' ith digital design and engineering. Thl: chapter is prcdicatL:d on the idea that C\ cry anthropologist needs to knm\ more about this area. not only because we arc all potentially implicated in it. but because \\C need to think about how it may or may not be producti\ c for us and !'or others. The politics or the digital arena has changed. and our disLiplinc has been one 0 r the participants. The anthropologist's ro lc as a trans Ia tor has L'H ta ly;cd and. i11 some cases. comprised -col\\ crsations bet\\ ccn the producers and consumers or technologies. Design \\ork's I(Jcus has gradually shilicd ~may !'rom points ol'\ic\\ \vhich arc entirely driven by building technologies tO\\ ards also c\ploring ideas or need. local \a lues. relationships and identities. This parallel social science\\ ork inlimllS. critiques and inspires engineering and design. How has this occurred'' By\\ hat kind or process'! ;\nthropological engagements with design h<l\ l: particular qualities. They arl: olicn d('//Willlmlin. Design anthropology l'rL:qucntly presents itscll' not as a tL'\t but as a kiHm ledge artcl'act an

object. I ideo clip, or image \lhich is trying tO do some kind of anthropological \l'()f'k Consider I(Jr example the diiTcrcncc bl'I\\Ccn talking 11ith a digital designer to \\rite up an interpretation or dc~ign or talking\\ ith the dc~igncrjiw a design project. probably 11 hilc constantly taking notes or draliing l'm1crl'oint slides. Both exercises can be culturally critical and intcrprcti1 c, but the latter has an engaged immediacy where the actors arc embedded in the exercise. Although anthropological products (e.g. an ethnography) diiTcr from design'~ products (e.g. a design), an anthropological dialogue may happen as a part or the \\Ork process tm\ards both. And the dialogue, in an increasingly digitali/cd 11orkL i~ olicn itself a kJHm ledge artcl~1ct of a digital kind. The inllucncc of anthropology in design has not al\1ays been beneficial or c1 en ciTccti1c. Actin:ly or through missed opportunities, anthropology ha~ played a part in some poor design, inadequate technologies and exploitative products and sen ices, as well as admirable ones. The experience ol" many anthropologists mm ing into this area has been conl"using, l"rustrating and disillusioning. Design anthropology 11ork happens in places dominated hy other discipline~. hy other approaches, and hy other ways or talking. What design anthropological practice comprises then is not a privileged position or 1\cll-dclincd project but the experience ol' immersion into complicated multilateral con\ crsations where the anthropological 1oicc is present hut dissoh cd. Lucy Suchman, one ol' the most prominent anthropological 'oiccs in design, points out that her own 11ork in commerce has been l'undamcntally misunderstood in many llC\\s articles over the years: 'These articles announce the emergence or anthropology itself as commercially 1aluahle. Or rather. not anthropology, if by that we mean all ol" the contested modes ol" thcori/ing and practice that charactcri:~c the field, but anthropology ligurcd ... as a 1101 cl l(mn or markl'l research' (Suchman 2007: 4). llcr many cultural commentaries and social critiques have olkn been misrcportcd and misunderstood as the Jimduclion of \"(/11/c, or products and ol' sen ices. llcr anthropological work has been con !'used\\ ith other kinds ol'llork. Since 2000, an increasing number or people present thcmsch l'S as design anthropologists, more conlidcnt that they and their 11 ork arc less likely to he misunderstood. This chapter is, then, largely a description and illustration of the interdisciplinary dialogues which design anthropologists arc involved in. My hope is that this introduction to these dialogues can he illuminating and di~il lusioning. I continue by outlining the historical roots or the field and explaining some ol" the main terminologies and subdisciplinary areas. This is a kind or literature overview, l(lcusing on key moments and contributions for anthropology. I then pnl\ ide two illustrations or the kinds or things design anthropology can do, drawing !"rom my own work \\ ith digital artcl~1cts in commercial design projects. I finish the chapter hy looking at some of 11 hat I consider key questions emerging l(lr the l"uturc.

Human-Computer Interaction: A Brief History


!Iuman computer interaction (II( "I) is, generally speaking, the broadest term I(H the research licld 11 hich has led, 01 cr some decades, to a scll~a11 arc design anthropology. As the name suggests, H( "I docs not dclinc itscll" by a spccilic disciplinar) approach. but by its subject ciTcctivcly. computing. II( 'I thcrci(Jrc implies a putati\ ely uni1 crsal human moment as the lens through 11 hich to understand ho11 all SOrts of actual people (humans) engage\\ ith aJJ SOrts or high-tL'Ch machines (COmputers) in all sorts ol" 11 ays (interact ions). II istorics ol' the dc1 clopmcnt of this area h<ll c been 11rittcn by diiTcrcnt authors (Bannon 20 I 0. 2011: J)ourish 2tltll b: (irudin 2005. 2007: !Iarrison, Tat1r and Scngcrs 2007: l'c11 200.~ ), and a L'lll1dcnscd pastiche ol" these l{lllo\\ s. In the early days ol"computing. interaction meant physical engineering. To rcprllgram the early computers, going back to the 1960s and hl'l(lrc, you did not necessarily ha1 c a keyboard, or a screen, or solt11 arc. To reprogram a computer ClHiid mean rc11iring and rcsoldcring the physical parts by hand. This mL'ant that the understanding ol'thc person \llwuscd a computer \\as highly physical. There 11as an interest in posture_ in hll\\ an arm or hand I(H example might interact 11 ith the machine.()\ L'r time_ keyboards and screens \\ere introduced. Farly models oi'Lomputing proCL'ssing (llm1s or inl(mnation) considered just the machine. 11 ith people katuring outsidL' its inl(mnational system. initiating inl(mnation processing hut not being a part lll"it. The HCllicld grc11 11ith the rcali:~ation that there 11 as a need t11 include humans in the understanding ofinl(mnational systems.~~ research intl'rcst initially called human !'actors. i\s research began to include the acti1 c intentions. thllughts. calculations and 11 ishcs ol" people, there 11as then a nw\ c liom l~1ctors to actors' (Bannon 199 I). When IICI turned to psychology (Card. Moran and Nc11 ell llJSJ: Norman llJSS) to lind answers to its Ill'\\ questions, multidisciplinary research teams resulted. 11hich could also incorporate anthropologists and sociologists. It has hL'cn suggested that a 'second paradigm ol" IICI originated at this time. 'organised around a ccntralml'laphor of mind and computer as symmetric. coupled inl(mnatJon processors' ( !Iarrison ct al. 2007: 5). In the 1970s, one ltliTillost mu!tJdisciplinarv research CL'Iltrc \\as Xcro:-.. 1'!\RC in Palo Alto, Calil{lrnia. 'the birthplace ol" many radical ideas that afi'cctl'd the 11orld or technology, including the laser printer_ the desktop graphical user intcrl~lCL' and the Fthcrnct. the technology that connected it all' (Sellen and llarpcr 2002: 2 .\). At Pi\ RC. the Work Practice and Technology Group. headed h1 Lucy Suchman, had a majllr impact. dcliniti\cly com incing many IICI researchers that researching computing im oh cd researching entire social ccosystl'ms around L'Omputcrs. This meant questions such as 'hm\ \\Crc computers embedded 11 ithin the com pie:-.. social liamC\\ork ol' daily acti1ity. and how did they interplay 11 ith the rest ol" our densely 11 O\ en em ironment (also knm1 n as "the real 11 orld")'" ( \/.,"cisL'r, ( illld and Brlll\ n Jl)l)l): 693 ).

248 /)igitui.Jntllln;Jo/ogl
/\t lh~.: ~am~: tim~:. ~1cruss the 1\tlantic. in S\\ clkn and D~.:nmark, another 1 cry dilkrcnl design rc1olution was happ~.:n1ng. The social lkmocratic political cst~lhlish mcnt introduced legislation which required 'consultation 11 ith \IOJ-kcrs' (Crabtree 200]: I 32) m ~.:r any new 11 ork place technologies, to ~I\ oid 'de-ski IIi ng ( Bnl\ crman ]eJ74). !\series of design projL'cts rose to this clwllcngL' through thL' latL' 1070s and ]e)X(b, using this engagement 11 ith \\ orkcrs as a dri1 ing l(lrcc to dc1 isc nc11 systems. or 'd~.:sign by doing' (Bodk~.:r ]eJX7: Bjnkncs. llm and Kyng 10X7). This 11as the beginning of participatory design. By the mid-]eJXOs. '-;ocial computing' ( Dourish 200 I b: 55) 11 as more important: the term imp! ics llC\\ research lt1ci 'from product to process ( ( ironba:k ct a!. 199.\ ). more social science and a more socially ~marc design politics. llmlncr. 11 ith the]'(' still embryonic. 11('1 11as still 1cr; l(lcuscd on 1\orkplaccs, not homes. Social liiC 11 as seen. in large part. as built on work and on 11 hat people do. The 1090s Sal\ the rise or domestic computing.\\ ith the PC and Internet, ~md a rene\\ cd need l(n companies to ex plorc mass markets com crgcntly 11 ith design. This opened the door l(lr another anthropological impact on II( 'L particularly by anthropologists at Intel's People and Practices ( iroup. ~1mong them Cicnc1 icvc Bell. The art ol"cultural critique (not just social observation) 11as brought to hear more clkctil ely than ever hcl(l!c on employer organi/~ltions and colleagues. Senior directors in major computing companies rccogni/cd that computing 1aricd and 11as culturaL as L'\ idcnccd in important emerging markets such as India. China and Europe. and that gcndcring could he a l~1ctor. You could no longer justify building computers in a unil(mn 11ay, in the expectation that people 11ould shape thcmschL'S to a lkl icc built by and tested on 11 hitc, male. middle-class ( 'alil(mlians. The big companies' research t;1cilitics expanded into Europe. India (especially Bangalorc) and China. significantly changing ideas of 11 hat and 11 ho those companies comprise. Perhaps these shills seem oh1 ious, hut anthropology cataly/cd them. The recent phase of II( 'I development and change has been more cultural than soc1al. More attention is paid to meanings. identities and relationships: exploring practice has grown into experience (practices plus meanings). There had always been 1 oiccs argu111g l(lr the importance of these things, hut they only recently gained 11 idcr recognition. !Iarrison ct al. (2007) characteri/c a 'third paradigm' in II('! as 'phenomenological': it is about embodied interaction. meaning. a l(lcus on values in design and the centrality ol" context (2007: 7 9). Importantly. those 11 ho practise this paradigm in IICI can frame multipk questions along 1cry difkrcnt lines. C)ucstions such as 'how l~1st should a mobile phone intcrt;Jcc hc' 1 ' can be asked alongsilk ones such as what docs a mobile phone intcrli1cc speed mL'an'~' Technological change has accompanied this shill, moving ti0111 what is done at a desktop to 11 hat is experienced 11 hile carrying pcrsonalmobik devices. What the story of anthropology 11ithin IICI siHl\\S is t110 of the points I started 11 ith. I irst. anthropological work has stimulated political shills in high-tech digital design and around corporations. Second. the design or digital products and sen ices Computer-supported cooperative (or coll~!borati1 c) 11 ork describes the 111tcnsi1 c contextual study or group 11ork to help lksign sys!L'ms 11 hich support it. Its corL' ilkas and its sense or a coherent identity 11crc set out in the ]eJXOs ((lrcil I lJX:\). Its contributions 01 cr the years hm c created key bridges hct11 ccn II( 'I and anthropulogical concLTlls. It has established unequivocally the social nature or,, ork (~l'l' Blomberg and McLaughlin 199.1: Blomberg, Suchman and Trigg ]e)l)7: llakkcn 2000: Rosner 2010). Work is seen as a social process or llo\\, beyond the labour indi\ iduals du .. \s an example. academic study \\Ork is hoth indi1 idual (e.g. lihrar1 or desk 11orkl and group-based (e.g. seminars. lectures. exams). It is the alternation or the t11 o phases. and the carriage ofinl(mnation bctllccn phases and people. 11 h1ch is olicn the engine hy 11hich any 11ork mo1cs l(ll-\lard: indi\idual study happens l(n group c1cnts and 1 icc 1 crsa. C'SC'W\ understanding or 11 ork as social has alsP C.\amincd anthropological or ethnographic\\ ork (Forsythe 200 I). CSCW also changed ideas or what the designed ur tcchnolugical ub]CL't actual!~ is. hy perceiving the importance or its cultural dimensions. For l''-~llllple Onl' l'llUid C\ aluatc a design by outlining lhL' needs or a user and then seeing ho11 a de1 icc or system meets them. but this is inadequate l(lr CSCW 11 ithoul considering hem peelpic charactcri/c, ami kmm. their 011n \\ork rL'iationships and \1orkllm1 ((inmb;L'k ct a!. Jl)e)J ). Returning to the example ol' study in g. Gill you say \\hat mahs a good hook' 1 A book is not important just because you can read it: it makes sense 11 ithin the purposc.s of study. llm1 do you knoll' it 1s a good book. and 11 hat or 11 lw asserts this'.1 So there is a complicated set or common kmm ledges allirming 11 hat the 11 ork is and the roles orartcl~lcts. Many ComJmiL'r-SlljJjJOr!cd ( 'ooJ)('ra/in' II !1rk (( 'S( 'II) has occurred in parallel 11ith anthropological 11mk and thinking. This dues JWtnll'~lll that you can point to the 'anthropological' bit in ~our sm;JrtphonL'. But ,r \llU ask questions about \\hat kinds ur 'experience' happen around a mobile lk\ icc. you should rccogni/c that L''-pcricncc has been intended in the product lksign because of anthropology. The qucstiun is implicated in the produL'L and the stud~ ul' digital anthropology is implicated\\ ithin dcsig1~ anthropolugy. To understand hem this h~h happened. we need to e.,aminc some ol'thc terms and subliclds currL'nt in Ill' ito sec how design anthropolog) locates itself and 11hat it comprisL's. \\'c ha1c allies ;md collaborators fields 11 here the questions arc uscl'ul l(ll understanding socict~ and culture and liclds 11hcrc that is subsidiary to other a1ms.

Main Suhtields of HCI and Applied lksign Mowmcnts

cscw

studies. including many or\\Orkpi;Jccs (Lull

ct a!. 2000). arc not so much the testing or a system. hut more a cultural critique. The corpus or work has sen cd tojustifv the importance and 1 aluc ol' obscn ational and dcscripti1 c 11 ork. especially participant obscn at ion.

l
'

250 !Jigi!ul /ln!lll'llfWiogr ;\t the same time, despite these contributions, CSCW research is not necessarily anthropological even 11hcn it is ethnographic. The ethnography conducted in CSCW has been ol" a particular 'cthnomcthodological' kind uscl"ul !"or some kinds ol" anthropological work hut not al\1ays rcllccting mainstream practice.

I
Lpslcin I 'NX). nnlJUSl conmHmsC!hical. It has especial!~ begun tuqucsl1on thl' balance bl.'l\\ ccn 11 hen cxpl'ricncl' is abo11l 'ml.'aning . 11 lmh suggl.'sts pL'oplc 11 ant tu until'rstand things, and 11 hen it is about emotional concerns. 11 hich brings in a morl' sentimental and alkcti1c interest (Caspi and (imsh 2t)()(,: (i;llcr 200'): llutchins 1995; Norman 2005). ;\]though it has been argued that it is not ncar!;. as good at pruducing Ill'\\ !111Hll at ions as traditional scientific lab 11 ork (Norman 20 I 0), l'.xD has h~1d an impal'l in many corporations. LJ,I) is quite capable ol'coming up 11ith a list ol'spL'L'itic design rl.'quircmcnts 11 hich engineers L'an act on. unlike some ethnographic nbscn atinnal work. It is more about design and psychological (ol'lcn Logniti1c) umkrstandings than cultur;d or social onl.'s.

Port icipatun I Jcsign

Participatory design (Schuler and Namioka 1993; Bodkl'r I 'JX7; Bodkl'r and Kl'nsing 2004), as we ha\c already seen. rckrs to a broad set ol"social initiatill'S and policil's, and l'll'll to particular national historil's. It has hl.'comc a broad tnm 11 hich can be used to cmphasi/c the political acts 11hich lcgitimi/c dcs1gn. tl'chnology and change. and when design work is supposed to procl.'cd liom participation morl' than li01n a particular technology. Darrou/ct, Wild and Wilkinson (2009) write about conducting a 'participatory ethnography' in a hospital contl'x.l. Thl' conduct ol" group 11 ork during l"l'Sl'arch stimulall'd con\nsations and communications across thl' hospital, such that the research itsl.'lrbl.'gan to addrl.'ss soml.' or the problems li1r 11hich a nl'w tcchnological systl'm had bl.'l'll envisaged. Participation docs not nl.'cl.'ssarily rl'quirl' dl.'sign, but it docs inlimn it. Participatory dl.'sign as a broad llllll l'llll'llt has madl.' sc\ l.'ral contributions to anthropology. It oflcrs ways or in limning dl'sign that is drivl'n not only by science but by traditional social scil'ncl' concl.'rns (Sanolf 200X). It is a lksign tradition whose roots arl.' no! in commcrcl' and the private Sl'clor. and so many anthropologists basl.'d in univnsilil's may find it altractill'. But it can also bl.' dilticult to scparall' out its aims limn thl' culture and politics ol" Scandina1 ia (and a spl.'cilic social lkmocratic historicalna at that).

L/hiquitous Conljmfing (LihiConl) ollil f1ciTUI'i\'(' ( 'onlf!llling

U.lcr-Ccnlrcd Design (l/xD)

Usl.'r-cl.'ntrcd design (or Ux.D) rckrs to a set ol" tlcsign ml.'thodologil's which start 11ith potential users or communities ol"usl.'rs. Ux() is not mainly aboutumil'rstanding social lives (like a lot or CSCW). but rathl.'r is about creating a tksign. Its ml'lhods can bl.' participatory, but a lot or Ux.D prl'Sl'l'\l'S a Sl'paralion bl.'l\\ecn studio design work and fieldwork. Olicn there is a work process which altnnatcs bl.'l\ll'l'n studio or lab and field sites involving rcpcall'd iterations or design revisiting design needs, concepts, demos and prototypes. lJx() grl'l\ into a serious, mainstrl.'am approach in the 19XOs. when sets ol" principles were debated and proposed (Norman and Draper I {)X(J ). From the late 1990s. many user-centred designers began to take an interest in lksigning li1r user experience (or DUX). The UxD movement and community have especially increased our understanding ol" l'xperil.'ncc as variable and social (I Ieath l't a!. 2002; Picard 1997; Zclkha and

Through the !9')0s. an increasing number ol' pcopk in II<. 'I mm cd 111lo the study ol' ubiquitous computing (or Ubi( 'om) and pen asi1 c computing. 11 hich arc cssl.'nliall;. computer scil.'ncc\ responses to the bknding ol'compul111g into tclccomniunicalions. UbiCom is partly a project, not on!) the study oi' a socialcn1 ironmcnlm ll'clmnlogy but thl' attempt to implement something. Mark \\'ciscr and others set out a 1 ision I(Jr computing inthl' early I'J90s (Wl'iscr ct a!. IL)')9). direct!) inl(mncd b;. 11 hat ethnography had done liH Xerox PAR(' This combination ol'ancmpirical pragmatism 11 ith the seeds ol' an implied idealism is comnHm to many areas oi' computing (Duuri:.h and lkll 20 II), gi1 ing dircl'lion to research. This lil'ld has produced 11 ork \\ hich critically discusses c.\al'll) 11 hal ubiquil) or pcnasivcncss may mean, 11hik computing sprl.'ads Lu bL')Ond desktop I'Cs. Studies hm e looked at computing as abstract process or inl(mnation and as mall'rial th1ng (Rodden ct a!. 200-t ). Onl' c.\amplc is the idea ol'thc 'disappearing cum puler' (Streit/. Kmncas and :\lei\ rommati 2007; Tolmic ct a!. 200 I). :\lore usc lid!: to anthropology. others ha1 c probed a concept 11 hich anthropologists ha1 c ol'lcn liL-pL'IHkd Llll overmuch: context ( Di llcy ]L)9L)). Paul Dourish \ (200 I a. 200-t) \\ ork on conlc.xtual computing as ideal and/or thing illustrates the possibilil) ol' a critical grasp oi' l'Llllslructions oi' context.

Mm'cmcnf.l' ll'ilhin Design

Outside ol' IICI. but m crlapping 11 ith it. a lot ol' important approaches ha1 c been gcrminalL'd by pcopk 11 ho arc strictly design practitionLTS ratllL'r than L'ngiliL'<.:rs or computer scientists. As a field in its 011 n right. design 1 aril's l'rnm graphic designers to l~1shion and textiles to product designers. systems dcs1gncrs and some artists. Dl'sign skills lary, hut there is a lot or common ground. loll. Design is one oi' the

l
252 /)igitul /lnthmjJu/ugl'
~kill sets which ha\c intruded into 11('1 in parallel \\ith anthropology. Designers arc especially good at bridging tcclmical innm at ions and contL':\ls or usc.'' hich makes their skills crucial l(lr succcssliilly acting on social ami ethnographic research. Design approaches and terminologies include contextual design (Hoi/blatt 1993. 2003: llol/blatt. Burns Wendell and Wood 2005). ''hich is a set or,,ays or designing rrom an exploration orcontc.\t. The linn IDH) has created some or the hcst-kJHmn examples or contextual design. CoDesign. mc:umhilc, rcl'crs to \\ays or doing dc~ign brainstorming with inl(mnants thcmschcs l(lr example through design games (Brandt and Mcssetcr 2004 ).

The field or interaction design has also become important in rcCL:nt years, combining computer science and graphic design skills. An interaction designer basically designs intcrlilccs, \-\ hich could he anything !'rom a rctiigcrator door to a bus stop. Seen in its broadest terms, 1ntcraetion design is a perspective on the \\orld \\hich reconfigures almost every material and immaterial clement as a potential intcrliJcc, and hence potential relationship. One or the most important design ideas l(lr anthropologists is critical design. Critical design implies that design \\ ork is a cultural commentary, not necessarily l'unctional work. So a design prutotypc. l(lr example, can he presented not only as something which is being tested to sec irit works. hut as an artistic pro\ocation which asks questions. Critical design is more about provoking new questions than producing an~wcrs. Design noir (I )unnc 1999, 200X; I)unnc and Rahy 200 I) is an example or critical design. As a discipline, design ortcrs immense anthropological potential in collaborative \\ork. because it demands sets orinl(mncd sociocultural ideas. While a new tcclnwlogr can cxi~t \\ ithout thinking much about people. a Ill.'\\ design must think about people.

Design Anthropology
These various II( I and design mo\ cments show us how design anthropology locates itscll'. The story behind these approaches and mo\cmcnts is politieally loaded; dil~ krcnt practitioners set out their stalls proacti\ely and rcaeti\cly to bring the broad agenda hack to the questions they want to ask, to certain methods or to certain end aims. CSCW and lJxD might appear to be asking similar questions, hut one intends a sociological analysis and the other a design. While their methods sound the same. you ''ill olicn see clear dirtcrcnccs in the way they arc implemented and\\ itncss dcball's bet\\ ecn collaborators on a project. Unlike some or these fields, design anthropology has no maniksto or set ol principles there arc plenty or pcr!Cctly good definitions ol' anthropology. But fi01n the 1990s. it became increasingly clear that more people\\ ith an anthropological hackground were working in II('! and that their work looked dilkrcnt fimn other peoples'.

Rathn hclatcdlv. the term 'design anthropologist' became current. .\nthropnlugical consultancy in Silicon Valley \\as highly significant in making. this idea nrthc dc~ign anthropologist c:-;plicit. ror c.\ample by Dublin (iroup. then eLah (see Robinson and llackctt 19')7)_ The grounds\\Cll or L'OllSUitanc: (the part \\hich pay~ the bills) has been marketing and branding. Yet ethnographic \\or" h:1s ofkn led to unc'\pcctcdl~ deeper understandings and a need to redesign (Squires and Byrne 2002). nut _just rcbrand. These consultancics established ethnography (ami anthropolog~) as a rccugni/ablc. distinct practiec and skill set. one nut hidden\\ ithinmultidisciplinar~ tc:um. In the jostle or IICI approaches. anthrnpulogists arc able to dr~m on those clements cm;1hasi/ing cthnugraphy (like ( 'S( w. see Shapiro 199-t) to bring in \ ariLd stakeholders in a participatory \\ay (participatory design) and ked intu qucstiuns about contc\t and c.\pcricncc ( LJhiCom. CSC\V ). The digital artcf~lCls used in their \\'ork at times embody field data. but at other times critical dcs1gns trc<Jt concept testing or prototyping. as a potential cultural cummcntary. Design anthrnpolo!,'.y then comprises a group or anthmpologists '' ho do anthropological \\ ork. producing critical cultural commentaries alon!,'.sidc design and in \\ ays that aspire lll be constructi\e ror design. Their aim is cultural commentary murc than design or marketing. but their \\llrk is only justillable \\hen it engages\\ ith thusc ai1m in some sense. They arc to he f(nllld in-companies, uni\ crsitics. nongo\ ern mental organi/<Jtions and public-scctur em ironmcnts. Apart tiom being a \\ay ol'\\orking. a space or ideas has bcguntu be caned out. as in the Internet group anthrodcsign and the !~PIC Conkrcnce ( Lthnographic Praxis in Industry) established in 2005. Notable cuntributions arc hL'ing. made to thinking about the-boundaries and core or anthropological ''or" and thin"ing (sec Ingold 2007). Detailed autobiographical reflections or anthropulogical practice prolikratc (L'.\2.. ('cfkin2009: Kaplan and Mack 2010: 1\!locd 2010: Solumon2010) \\hich detail pn:ccdurcs. relationships. politics. \ aluc and \a lues. l:ly nn (200')) outlines f(lr cx.ample huw the ,,ays people in corporatiuns idcntif\ \\ith anthropolugieal kno\\ ledge and rcprcsL'ntations---by ha\ in!:'- an iconic image or a 'usn specific tu their team can hinder as \\ell as illuminate design. 1 usc t\\O examples fi0111 my m\n \\ork to illustrate htm the particular "inds or dil2.ital artcli1cts used in design anthropology present questions l(lr our understandings or anthropology and anthropological praxis. Digital artc!iJcts arc rcllcxl\ c commentaries on \\hat anthropological \\ ork is. and tilL') constitutL' dialoguL'S \\ ith inrormants as \\ell as about inrormants.

Audiophotography Research at Hewlett-Packard Labs


The audiophotography project. conducted at and by Ill' Labs. by mysclr and Dm id Frohlieh. explored 'remembering'\\ ith digital media ( Dr<l/in and Frohlich 2007). In the United Kingdom. the year 2002 \\as a nwmcnt or llllCCrtainty. experimentation

254 /)igilu! /1n!hrojwlog\

!>csign. llllhmj)(l/og\ 255

and speculation about plwtof:!raphy. Some people \\ere shi liing liom analogue to digital cameras, and a kv\ mobile phones contained cameras, but what might be done with a digital image \\as unclear. In companies like I k\\ lett-Packard (liP), some argued that all still and paper photos vv otdd soon disappear, n:placcd C\ erywhcrc by \ideo clip.~: other~ thought that printing \\Otild prolikratc. Would remembering
practice~ change or pcrsist' 1 Fe\\' anthropologish can he c.,plicit about speculative

digital fiam<:s. digital paper, hooklikc l(mns and sonlL' nc\\ de\ ices labelled 'patent applied for'). What \\C mana)!cd to uncmcr \vas something ol'thc \\ide range or,, a) s or remembering that can he ltltllld
C\

en \\ ithin one home. The \ariel) rc\ caled the ndtural.


l'\

not biologicaL natun.: or remembering. ( 'onsidn hm' remembering'' orks di ITcrcnt I) \\ ith music or\\ ith a photo, I(H example.;\ Christmas photo can memories ol' 'Christmases'' hen I \\as young'. When
\\l'

oke a particular

social l'uturcs and how inl(mnants' li\ cs may suddenly and utterly change

except

Christmas moment, \\ hile a piece or ( 'hristmas music more oliLn brings habitual looked spccilically at the range ol'photos, \\l' noticed recurring patterns in ho\\ they \\ere placed and i'ramcd in the home, and\\ c described these patterns in terms of f(lur broad groups. l'irst, thL'rL' ''ere lots or loose photographs kept some\\ here-- so met imcs Ii!era II) in a shocbo" jumbled, unsorted. almost deliberately messy. These \\ere _just 'memories'. SL'l'tlmi. there were pinhoards or displays in the hall or on the rciiigcrator door- the 'rogues' gallery according to one liunily. llerc \\ere images ol' fiicnds people like \OU. While some ol'thc photos here \\Crc deliberately placed there. others SL'L'mcd to just find their own way. They arri\ cd in an em elope, they real!:- ''ere not supposed to he thrown ;may. but ought somchm\ to he\ isihlc, at least l(lr a bit: and there the) landed, onto the liidgc door. The third kind or presentation ''as in photo albums. some loose and some or)!ani;cd \\ith hamhniting and captions. llnlikc the 1coniL images ol' rogues' galleries. albums remember l'\ cnts and arc historici;cd. marking the turning and passing of the years. i\s a rule, albumcd memories arc household memories: other peoples' images. sent to
)OU.

anthropologists in corporations, '' lw ha\ c to be. What research method \\ c used ''as crucial. It had to both reflect on current remembering (to support it via design) and c\okc ncvv rcmcmhcrin12 and technical possibilities. We had to get inl(mnation about remembering in context and create digital memory artcfi1cts \\hich \\ould look con\ incing, even enchanting, to our engineering colleagues.

lkm ing

Oil

the long-term work or I)avid I'Jolll ich (Fro hi ich 2004 ). a project \\as that is. still images with sound. Sound could he

proposed on audiophoto12raphy

contextual (recorded \\hen the photo\\ as taken), ;1 rctmspccti\ c narration, music or nothing (silence is also a sound in digital media terms). i\ standard \\ay to do this might he to in\ itc a structured sample ol' people into the lah to create audiophotos. This\\ ould mean you could compare photos i\ and B, or inl(mnants X andy directly and keep technical standards hij2h (this is important to engineers). You could also intcn icv\ people about their thoughts and rationales behind audioplwtos, producing user profiles. llmvner,
\\C

rejected this proposal and ar)!ucd I(H an anthropological

approach, spcndin!! time with people at home to talk about remembering. photos, music and social Ii IC generally. hci(lrc we cv en mentioned audiophotographs. We understood the project as being about rcmcmbcrin!! in its\ aricty. and audiophotos as just a de\ icc. We \\anted to look at rcmcmbcrin)! within relationships, not by asocial individuals. So we started nctworkint>- in (\\()hobby groups to find pairs or chains or people who probably already shared photos and/or music. That first sta)!C ol' the research. spending time with people,'' as c\ idcntly anthropolo)!ically the most \ aluablc, hut it was regarded hy some colka)!ucs as no method at all. We had to justil'y it. The justification \\as that \\C \\ould learn real-world instances ol' sharin!! photos, music and memories, so as to create audiophotos cnvisagin!! actual relationships. audiences and motivations. So in the second sta)!c. \\l' asked people to envisage one such instance and make up two audiophoto albums--one\\ ith their narration and the other one matching photo and music collections. A mother who was in the habit or sending mini photo albums or her children to her mother in the linitcd States made an audiophoto album f(H her mother. She also collated photos f(lr her dilkrcnt children, each ol'whom had their own album sitting on the li\ ing room she! I' and so she narrated a story alhum f(n her dau)!htcr about their trip to Disneyland. Mcarm hile. a widm\ cr \\ ho went through his photos to rcmcmhcr his late \\ik created a musical album \\ith her in mind. In a third stage ol' research, \\c in\itcd people into the lah to show them hm\ their audiophoto albums looked on difkrcnl platl(mns (!'or example desktop screens,

rarely make it inside the alhumL'O\ crs.

The last kind ol' photo \\as the fiamcd photo. rcscn cd f(lr l~unih. Putting a school friend on your \\all in a hig, substantial l'ramc \\ould be risky. The fiamcd pictures sit alongside paintings, landscapes, posters, art and dccorali\ c pieces. They sit there l(lr a long time. possibly years. and age \cry slmdy. i\ liamcd picture ora person as they looked ten years ago is still tltting nm\: il'it \\CIT in a rogues' gallery, it \\Otddn't be. The treatment ol' photographs in the home could be used to interpret, L'\ en model. remembering as an inl(mnational system. But that \\Otdd not full) appreciate the culture of remembering, \\hich \\as important l(lr us. When imagining digitalmcmor)
artci~Jcls, we could begin to envisage sound as a kind ol' l'raming. The audio part or

audiophotos might do similar kinds of things to frames. albums and rll)!Ul's' galleries: for example make them appropriate !'or certain relationships. ascribe temporal qualities to them or designate the borders of the home. Making audiophotos rc\calcd something or the emotional burdens, and dillicult responsibilities, of remembering and ol' memory artcliJcts. Music might transl'orm a pedestrian image into a repository ol' nostalgia. Many images chosen had deep!) emotional stories connected to them a fiicnd \\ho has been ilL children\\ ho had recently leli home. Our informants \\'rest led\\ ith hm\ to treat their memories in an appropriate way. They were haunted by the\ ague sense that they should sort. l'ramc and album those memories. There \\as olicn a palpable sense ol'obligation in going through other peoples images: to sit \\ ith someone and g.o through their hoi ida)

-------.. ~~~~--------------..._..

256 /)igilul Anlhm;}()/ogr


or \\cdding album may he nice. but the t;lct is you arc obliged to do it \\hate\cr. Like\\ isc, to receive a liamcd portrait or audiophoto or a partner. boyfriend or girlliicnd implies moral responsibilities around that image. Perhaps our most important observation \\as that a lot of remembering is actually more about the l'utuiT than the past,\\ hich may seem counterintuiti\c. For example a liamcd photo on your wall implies planning to remember that person C\ cry day. Placing photos on the liidgc door indicates that the memory\\ ill be there lilr a while. but not li>rcvcr. So memory arteli1ds in context arc also about the li.1turc intention to remember. In li1ct it\ not always clear which is most important. This means acts of remembering-holding artcli1cts. narrating.'' here you put them dm\ n ncously remembering and remembering ahead in the same action. arc ~imulta

/Jcsigu .1111/im;Jo/ngr 257

lot of what we s<m in peoples" homes into sharp rclicL but it also helped c.,plain a lot ofthc technology of remembering. So \\C could usc the debates. the multidisciplinarity, the multiple stakeholders and the design process tu 1\:cd into the anthropolngical learning process. The digitali/cd audiophotos in the later part of our research \\ere the focus rnr this kind of learning process, SO digital \\Orking helped pnn ide pcrspccti\ cs distincti\ c to design anthropolog;.

Irish Rural Transport Research at Intel Digital Health Group


A second example. one \\ithout a \ery specific technological remit.'' ill shm\ some dirkrcnt sides to digital design and'' hat digital artcl;1cts do in design anthropology. The rural transport research conducted in 2007 X by Intel Digital llcalth c.imup in Irei and was tasked to understand and design l(>r global ageing. Our aim \\as to understand experiences of isolation and mobility in rural Ireland among older people and initiate an ongoing itnati\ c design process. The gatekeeper Iill the research was the Rural Transport Net\\ urk. a gmup or organizations across the counties or Ireland. Most or the organintions run '' cckly minibuses\\ hich go door-to-door across the countryside. bringing cldcrl) passengers to a local town or a community centre. The aim could be to collect '' cckly pensions. shop. attend a community group or li.dtil health appointmcnb. We approached live\ cry di ITcrent organi/ations: from large to smalL in mountainous and flat areas. desolate and commuter belt. One was a profit-making company. another\ oluntar). another based on state-funded sen ices. Some only prm idcd transport others provided community groups or meals-on-\\ heels. Three anthropologists (mysclL Sinwn Roberts and Tina Basi) spent at least a'' cck on one or t\\ o pmjL'Cts. We spent a lot of time on the buses. and \\C also met and interviC\\Cd a range or community and project stakeholders (passengers. drivers. district nurses. ollice organi/.crs. post orticc starr, priests and so forth). We were loaded do\\n \\ith technology camcorders to make shaky clips of country lanes. voice recorders \Vh1ch \\ere almost permanent!) on and CiJ>S locators tracking our routes by satellite. What we really wanted to do was to (I) gather as much rich inlimnation as possible on the experience or the transport and place and (2) look at the contrasts and dialogues bet\\ ccn stakeholders. not to understand the s; stem but to dr<m out the contrasts. Back at InteL we gathered in groups'' ith one another and'' ith dcsignL'rs and engineers. We looked over everything\\ chad -a mass of\ ideo clips. themes. dillcrcnt analyses. quotations. user profiles and still photographs and began to produce sets of ideas or problems, opportunities and potential responses. To take a simple example. \\e might contrast the vic\\s of passengers and orticc starr on hlm the transport is organi/.:d to sec ira design space c:\isted to help them \\ork smoothly together.

This project illustrates something about digital artcE1cts in design anthropology work. In a lot or anthropological '' ork. you ''mild avoid the second and third stages (making audiophotos) altogether. because it has an imaginary clement. Audiophotographs did not exist in these peoples" homes. and might never exist. ;\nd yet the framework or remembering did. and we tried to lit into this liamcwork from inside". so to ~peak. Making audiophotographs was a crcati\c ad in which a ne\\ artcl;lct, a plausible artcl;1ct. was made '' hich might lit that relationship. The artet;lct would attempt to demonstrate an imagination of what sort of relationship that
\\a~. without the lixity of words. Strangely. this suggests that anthropological work

which draws on digital design methods to pay explicit attention to material forms can be \cry good at abstract imagination or sociality. Conversely. anthropological \\ ork which pays less attention to material limns. which is unquestioning or them, may remain bound by current and past material conditions. It follows that the right methods must be used fi>r the right kinds or question. But if some might say this was not traditional anthropological practice. it\ not traditional IICI either. Our albums were. limn a scientific point or view, all mer the place: no consistency, no comparability, no technical specifications: all audio qualities, and none. One is a standalone art piece li>r a gallery by a scmiprokssional photographer. another a botched sequence on a risky teenage boo/c-up. They do not make it possible to derive technical specifications for an engineer to usc: and yet. anthropologically, the contrasts and comparisons evoke the l~1milies, relationships and backgrounds they came limn. So li>r us. they were entry points into stories \\e could tell about what remembering is. and \\as, liH dilkn:nt people. I 'vc talked a lot about how and why we did \\hat we did, our methodology. This is important, because reflexivity is a common part ol'tksign anthropology fieldwork. The homes \\C worked with all used digital technologies that were designed. manut;lcturcd and promoted by companies such as liP. Companies arc a part of remembering processes. and the corporate side of the conversation is the part which is missing in a lot of anthropological work. We learned how a lot of fiP col leagues would equate 'good remembering" with technical excellence--a higher sp.:c of camera or more crystal-clear sound. Understanding this engineering culture or remembering thrc\\ a

258 !Jigital /1nthmpologt


Many or our inl(mnants w~:rc \cry suspicious. certainly at lirst. and clearly many suspected that we were there to test the rural transport. perhaps to cut or withdraw it. In the past, anthropology has had a mixed record in rural ireland. Sc\cral anthropologists have been (rightly. I think) accused or misunderstanding or misrepresenting Irish liiC. especially about isolation (sec Peace 19119). To considcrthcrei(Jre someone li\ing alone. with seven: mobility dil'ticultics, in a hous~.: distant rrom any other. in terms or isolation is problematic in more ways than I can elaborate on here. What was \cry clear. however, was that in our work. isolation was evident in its negation by the buses. The rural transport has transi(Jrmcd lives. People gain regular social contact, better shopping opportunities. bcttl'r diets and more physical acti\ ity. Social networks open up. the local news grape\ in~: is intcnsilicd and emotions and spirits
ris~.:. The rural transport is not a utopia. because it olkn happens against a back-

!Jcsign .lnthmJitilogr 259


The moment \\hen \\ c presented these concepts to people. to tr::. to engage them in the design process. marked a shill in the relationship. The pre\ inus suspicinn nf being tested ICII away. so con\crsations \\ere less optimistic and mnrc balanced. and these shy and rcspcctrul people \\Crc not aliaid to critici/l' either our dcmns nr rural Ii k.
Our l'illagc i.1 dead (Nan and Utic. rural transport passengcTs uct concepts) Sot one J>L'f'I<JII in our cluh mm/d uw !hut (Kale. \\\:sum:ath) I'm lwf'l'.l. enough \t'ith u f'lumc mil (Anthea. Sligt1)
111

Sligo. reacting to prod-

ground or growing inequality. po\ erty, changing gender and generational relationships and rural economic decline. Ireland has been changing immeasurably in the past two decades. Yet a single, short minibus ride each w~.:ck makes a dilkrcncc. and the tangible experience is important in this. To he on the buses can he intimidating. rull or banter. jokes, gossip and laughter. Men in particular can find this dillicult. as most passengers arc women. Commonly. men join the bus in pairs: t\\ o quiet, elderly litrmcrs waiting at a crossroads, who climb in and sit modestly at the back. We began to appreciate transport as a social event. by contrast \\ ith some transport design approaches. Transport is not always an undesirable asocial moment happening between two desirable social places or events. To be on the rural transport is to bt: a member. and pt:ople ollcn travel weekly even without anything to do at the other end. The bus is another node in the network. and weekly routine. of rural Iiii: --alongside th~.: church. the pub. the Gaelic sports match and the livestock market, where on dilfcrcnt days or the week news is handed on. The inl(mnational needs or the rural transport organi/ation arc also routini/cd: on any one trip. the driver has to know who is no/joining the bus, not who is coming. In clkct. people 'book' nonattendance, olicn by calling one key passenger who will sit up the lront and tell the driver what to do---or what not to do. Aller fieldwork. we then spent some months d~.:vcloping concepts, in short bursts or brainstorming. and narrowing them down to a li:w \\ hich might be workable. A professionally trained designer dralicd these conceptual services or dcv ices as onscreen simulations. flash programmes which you could click on. In the main. the concepts adapted and redeployed ~.:kmcnts or the ethnographic research, using images and instances rrom the licldwork which had been digitally recorded. These digital demos were brought back to the rural transport projects. not to test hut to try to advance them constructively, in a participatory way. So we tended to ask not 'would you usc this or not''' but rather envisage specific clements about them. Where might an intcrlitcc be located'' Who uses them'' Who has responsibility ror personal inrormation'! Spccilic suggestions were also invited about the concepts. how the screen looks. touch screens. split screens, di lkrcnt kinds or devices and so on.

The presentation or digital demos ''as no longer primaril) an intnprcti\ c act. hut a dcmonstrati\c one. This \\as the moment people realized \\C \\ere serious about engaging. and the digital artclitcts were the calling card or our intcntinns. The::.
1~1-

cilitatcd the imagination ofhcne1its (or detriments) in actuaL immanent social terms.
)im \twt!dn I .feel under a collljilitncnt (Dorothea. Sligo
dens of community life and responsibility) poetically c':\pre;sing the bur-

It should hun' a junau/ hull on. to aulolllltlicu/1! intitc f"'OJ>Ic to a )111/cw/ (Julia. Sligo funerals an: key social e\cnls in the WI.?'! of Ireland)

So the digitalized concepts began to illuminate problems and tensions and unpack the appearance or unity and unirormity in the rural transport. Such tensions ''ere important lill us to consider as '' c thought about \\hat isolation and mobility mean and how they arc articulated. What they also helped us negotiate in this '' ork \\as the balance between an exercise in learning and in being taught. i\ simple idea or the research might hm c been that it \\as to understand social problems.\\ hich anthropology interprets and models to inrorm a design response. Ho\\ c\ cr. the litct is that a response to a complex set or problems or ageing and rurallil'c is already there rural transport minibuses work. and they require support. the

But the \\ay that the rural transport is an ans\\Cr as \\ell as question is nut just about what the rural transpmi is like. It is also this\\ ay bcuwsc ofthL' liamC\\ nrk of design anthropology. which is an engaged one. In design anthropology \\ ork. man) aspects of lik can appear as either phenomena or responses to phenomena. and you can choose to priv ilcg~.: either aspect. So, for C:\ample. ynu might obscn c the
l~tct

nr

mcnjoining the (li:male-dnminatcd) bus in pairs and pcrrorm an analysis orlw\\ this constructs gender in rural Ireland. hm\ it makes men and \\Omt:n. In nur project.\\ c could sec it as a response. one solution \\ hich people h<l\ c de\ iscd to the issues of how gender is. One \\ay you might talk about this is that there is a shiti limn 'matters or Etct' to matters or concern' ( llcidcggcr
Jl)(, 7:

Latnur 2004 ). It is one of the '' ays

260 /)igi!al Anlhrofwlngr

that, as an anthropologist, you can choose to liamc your work interpretations or responses''

arc you producing

public activity. and it potentially signifies shilis in the balance o!"ptn\L'r and c"pcrtisc bet\\ ecn companies and publics. The question is. as the ~kilb to make and \\ork '' ith products become populari/cd, is this an cmpo\\crmcnt of publics
111

relation to cor-

porations or a ncutrali/ation as they align thcmsch es closer to corporate thinking'-'

Conclusions and Future Questions


When you get down to specific instances or lived lives, work in digital design can he exciting and rdrcshing. Anthropological contributions ficqucntly hring a provoking li-cshncss and illumination to the occlusion which computing design (as with any social group or project) is at risk of l~liling into. But I do not want to address here what anthropology can do ror digital design, or
C\

i\ range of anthropologists and tksign thinkLTS arc unpal'king thL' itka o !"era li' l\\O above points. Crali can describe the\\ ays \\ c \\ ork \\ ith our material cnYironmcnts. compounding the things surrounding us\\ ith the skills\\ c ha\ c
to look at the (Sennett 200X). C'rali also has a history of political and protcstmo\cmcnts. reacting to and resisting the athancc of anonymous industry and commodities (sec Dormer 1997). It is like a populari/ation of design\\ ithout the high-class and c"clusi\ c toncs ofthat word. To talk ofcrali is to talk o!"thc \\ork
\\C

0\

cr-

en how it studies digital technolo-

put into things (Suchman

gies. More important arc the two questions I started with: what can this engagement do I(Jr us as anthropologists in the work or producing sociocultural interpretations. and how has design anthropology work operated within the political field or digital tech no logics'' Digital knowledge artcfitcts arc at the heart of both questions. Design anthropology as a practice is strongly dialogic and 'situated' ( Harraway 1991 ). in the sense that if you encounter it, you arc prohahly already implicated in it. The usc of digital artefacts and media comes to he especially important in order to adequately negotiate the web of relationships within which design anthropology research is inevitably conducted. They constitute the dialogues by which the work progresses. They are deployed in some sense as agents. as things which do work. as well as purporting to he partial interpretations or social f!1rms. The stance or design anthropology encourages, even necessitates. a questioning attention to physical and material contexts, as a route into examining contemporary conceptions of social trajectories and attitudes towards social change. Such a stance involves a serious reorientation as regards inf(mnants. What we do with digital prototypes and concepts can afj(cl informants. The digital is here not an act or mutual consumption. but a sharing and acknowledgement of responsibility and intent ({irudin and (irintcr 1995). There arc several unrolding contributions here which are being made to digital anthropology. Design anthropology is evidently in a privileged position when it comes to seeing inside corporations. Companies. especially multinationals. arc very influential. but they patrol their boundaries very carefully: ethnographic work is very difficult. and definitively extricating yourself liom the field (i.e. the corporation) with participant observation data intact is positively gymnastic. Design Consultancy prm ides an entry point for the anthropological discipline. However, this is not only about corporations per sc, but understanding their changing significance. As new inl(mnation technologies inli.tsc ohjccts, the skills to deal with them do as well. and so consumption changes. Nowadays you do not just huy and listen to music, you also have sets or skills. soli ware and tools by which you work with the media. A person who buys a digital product is no longer a consumer in the same sense. hut is also a producer and a cralispcrson ({iauntlctt 20 II). Design. then, is becoming a popular.

1995)--thc di ITcrcncc between the gi li of a cake fiom the shop and a cake \\ c ha\ c made to our own recipe. As digital skills become populari/ed. and matnial things more digiti/cd, more ol" our world could become like the cakes\\ c ha\ c baked than those we ha\ c bought. Perhaps the most important area \\ hich design anthropology can help us \\ ith is the question of trying to specify and critique \\hat anthropologists do. One of the points which really hits anthropologists hard\\ hen \Vorking in design is ha\ing to put into \\ords and justify \\hat they do. not only\\ hat the) kno\\. Design anthropological \\Tiling (Cclkin 2009) addresses these concerns: the pra,is o!" anthropology and the heuristics: \\hat the debates arc: \\here processes
l~til

and

where they \\Ork: \\hen they arc anthropological and\\ hen they arc not. The majority of design anthropology writing is rctlcxiYc \\nrk on \\hat anthropologists thcmsches ha\c done, laid out almost in a spirit \\hich imitcs critique. The kinds of knowledge artefacts resulting !"rom anthropological work in this area arc like designs or craft objects insofar as they incorporate a sense of social justification in their form and usc. What should be clear from the examples gi\ en is that in anthropological \\ ork. digital media can actually haYc a lot of political and L'thical implications. Digital arlll"acts arc not just data. They can change the basis of anthropological relationships. They haYc social traction, not just informational content. Digital media arc good for some kinds of work but are poor for others. What is crucial in anthropology is to learn !"rom our engagements with digital design and. in a sense. to tame the digital and harness it to the kinds of\\ork \\c \\ish to do.

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262 !Jigitul /lnthmpolog\'

I )csign .lnthmj!O/ogl 263

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1-lcickggcr, M. 1967. Whutls u Thing? Washington, DC: ()ale\\ ay. Holt/blatt, K.S ..J. 1993. Contextual Inquiry:!\ Participatory Technique for Systems Design. In l'urlicilwloJT /Jesign, ed. D./\.N. Schuler. llillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Frlbaum. Holt/blatt, K. 2003. Contcxual Design. In The flumun-Computer lntemctionllundhook, ed . .1./\.S . .Jacko. l.ondon: Law renee Erlbaum. Holt/blatt, K., .1. Burns Wendell and S. Wood. 2005. Ru;1id ( 'onte.rtuul Design: A ffmr-to ( iuide to Ker Techniques fi!l C.1cr-cenlred Design. London: Morgan Kaufman, t:lscvicr. Hutchins, E. 1995. Cognition in the Wild Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Ingold, T. 2007. Anthropology Is Not Ethnography. l'mcccding.1 ojrhe British Acudemr 154: 69 92. Kaplan, L and A. Mack. 20 I 0. 'Ethnography of l~thnographcrs' and Qual itativc Meta-Analysis for Business. In l'mceedings of the Cthnographic l 1 roxis in lndtJ.\IIT Con/('rence (1:'/'IC) :}{)/(), II 0 12. American Anthropological Association. Latour, B. 2004. Why Has Critique Run Out ofStcam' 1 From Matters of Fact to Matters of Concern. Criliml lnquirr 30(2): 225 4X. Lurt: I'., ct al. 2000. Workplace Studies: Rccn\cring ltii/"k J>mclicc and lnfimning S\'.1/cm Design. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Mocd, A. 20 I 0. Back to the Future of Ethnography: Internal User Research at a Consumer Internet Company. In 11mcecdings of"the l:"thnographic Praxis in Indus/IT Conf[rencc (!:PIC) ]()I 0, 14 25. A mcrican Anthropological Association. Norman, D./\. 19XX. The /Jesign ofE1crnlur Things. Ne\\ York: Basic Books. Norman, D./\. 2005. l;molional Design: Win We !JI\'e (or Hate) L'\er\'ilm Things. Nc\\ York: Basic Books. Norman, D. 20 I 0. The Research-Practice Gap: The Need for Translational Developers. lntcmclion.l 17(4): 9 12. Norman, D., and S. Draper, cds. 19X6. U.1cr-Ccntcred Sr.1tcms Design: NCir Pers;wclil'cs on I Iuman-( 'om;n1ter Interaction. Abingdon: C'RC Press. Peace,/\. 19X9. From Arcadia to /\nomic: Critical Notes on the Constitution of Irish Society as an Anthropological Object. Critique ojA nthmpologr 9( I ): X9--lll. Pc\\, R. 2003. Evolution ori luman-Computcr Interaction: From Mcmex to Bluetooth and Beyond. In the lft11nan-Computer Interaction I lallilhook, I st cd., ed . .1 . .Iacko and/\. Scars, I 15. Hillsdale, N.J: Lawrence Erlbaum. Picard, R. 1997. Affi'ctil'e Com;mting. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. Robinson, R., and .I. llackctt. 1997. Creating the Conditions of Creativity. Design Management .lou mal X( 4 ): 9 16. Rodden, T., !\.Crabtree, T. !lemmings, B. Kolcva, .1. llumblc, K.-P. Akcsson and P. Hansson. 2004. Between the Danlc of a New Building and Its Eventual Corpse: Assembling the Ubiquitous I lome. In l'mcccdings ojt!te Fifih lnremalionol Confi'rencc on Designing lntemctilc Sr.1tems, 71 XO. New York: Association for Computing Machinery (ACM).

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Rosner, D., and K. Ryokai. 20 I 0. Spyn: Augmenting the Crcati\ c and Communicative Potential of Cra ti. In l'mceeding.1 of t!tc 28th lntcma!ionol C'on/ere nee on I Iuman Factors in ( 'om;mting s:r.1tcms, 2407 16. Ncl\ York: Association l(lr Computing Machinery (ACM). Sanotl II. 200X. Multiple Views of Participatory Design. Jrclt.\"c!. lntema!iona/ Joumal nlArchitcctuml Research 2( I): 57 69. Schuler, D. E., and /\. E. Namioka. 1993. l'artici;Ja/mT /)esign: l'rinci;J/n and Practices: 1st J>articipatorr De.1ign ( 'on/i'rencc: l'af!C/"1. llillsdalc. N.l: Lmrcncc Erlbaum. Sellen, A. L and R. Harper. 2002. The .\!rth of the l'a;!Crlcss Of/icc. Cambridge. MA: MIT Press. Sennett, R. 200X. T!tc Cmji.1nwn. London: Allen Lane. Shapiro, D. 1994. The Limits of Ethnography: Combining Social Sciences for CSCW. In Proceedings of the ('on terence on ( 'mn;mtcr Sllf!f!Ortcd C'oo;wwrin Work (CSCWJ /994. New York: Association for Computing Machiner)' (AC:\1). Solomon, K. 20 I 0. !\Comparison of Ethnographic and Autocthnographic Data f(x New Product Development. In Pmceedings of D!tnognlflhic Praris in Indus/IT Conf['rencc (EPIC) ]010, M1 7X. American Anthropological Association. Squires, S., and B. Byrne. 2002. Creating /Jrcoktlmmg!t Ideas: The Collahomtion o( Anthropologisls and Designer.\ in the Product /)c\elo;mtcnt Indus/iT. \\'cstporL CT: Bergin & Garvey. Streitz, N., A. Kamcas and I. Ma\Tommati, cds. 2007. The !Ji.IUf!f)('ming ( 'om;)///('1": Interaction Design. Srstem lnjiasrruc/ure.l and .-lpplicutions jill" Smart l:'mimnments. Berlin: Springer- Verlag. Suchman, L. 1995. Making Work Visible. Communications o(lhe .I( '.\/3X(')): 56--64. Suchman, L. 2007. Anthropology as "Brand': Reflections on Corporate Anthropology. Paper presented at Colloquium on lnterdisciplinarity and Society, (hford University, 24 February. Earlier drali (2000) available at: 1\\\\\.lancs.ac.uk E1ss sociology /rescarch/pu b I ications/papcrs_ a I ph a. htm. Tolmie, P., .1. Pycock, T. Diggins, A. MacLean and A. Karsenty. 2001. Unremarkable Computing. In Proceedings ojrhe Cl/1 ](){)/Human Foe/on in Colllfl!lling Conj[n'ncc, 399 406. New York: Association for Computing Machinery. Weiser, M., R. Gold and .1. Brown. 1999. Origins of Ubiquitous Computing Research at PARC in the Late 1980s. IBM Sntcms .Jouma/ 3X(4): 693 6. Zelkha, L, and B. Epstein. 199X. From De\ ices to Ambient Intelligence. Paper presented at the Digital Li\ing Room conl'crencc. Laguna NigueL Calil(lrnia, .June.

.\luscum ' /)igitul

:' 267

-13Museum + Digital= ?
Haidy Geismar

to greater numbers of people. The discursi\ c tropes of access and accountability arc also hallmarks of a continually emergent 'NC\\ Muscology' that has documented a shill of interest in museums <may from objects and tmvard people. socict~ and experience (sec Hcin 2000: I looper Greenhill 2000: Vcrgo 19X9). Broadly speaking. accounts of digital practices in musL'Ums rccogni;c the digitization of museums in the catalogue. the website. online exhibitions. social media and the tcclmological interfaces that act as communicati\ c and structuring mechanisms that si multancously i ntcrprct and pro\ ide greater access to museum '' nrk ( cllllcct in g. exhibiting, educating. sociali;ing and researching). Many analysts fllcus on the\\ ays in which these digital museum practices challenge com cntional understandings of museum collections. perceptions of authenticity. replication and the \ isitnr experience (sec Bayne. Ross and Williamson 2009: Conn 2010: Isaac 200X).' Much of the relevant literature focuses on the'' ays in'' hich museums usc digital technologies to generate new social relations and to create nc\\ epistemologies and classificatory systems. emancipating museums from a\ aricty of constraints: budgetary. spatiotemporaL political and institutional (sec. for instance. the C:\tcnsi\ c online reports from the annual Museums and the Web conl"crcnccs. and sec Parry 2010).' The digital museum is the ultimate 'museum 11ithout
\I

As is common within many discussions of digital technologies, 'digital' is used as a catchall term, uniting many difkrcnt l(mns and practices. This is particularly the case in museums. where digital tcclmologics arc increasingly integrated into diverse practices of collection and collections management, inl(mnation manal.':cmcnt. curating, exhibiting and educating. I Jere. I draw on Miller and llorst's

dcfi~1ition

of the

digital in the introduction to this volume, identifying the digital by the technical process of translation into binary register (and back again). and the standardization. transl(mnation and mediated experience this technological shill cflccts. In this essay I discuss and describe the cfkcts ofthis kind of technological mediation on museum practice and experience. focusing on the remediation of collections online and in the space of the museum catalogue and storeroom. In the case studies that follow. 1 I(Jcus on how digital projects 'encode' theories of digital sociality and how the digital coproduccs not only representations of objects and social relations. but collections and sociality in museum worlds. As representational forms. analysts have long dr<m n analogies between the drawing together of objects f(Jr collection and exhibition and the constitution of society

ails' (Malraux JlJ67). There

is an emphasis on the 11ays in which the digital enhances mutability and polyphony and can make connections in time and space that transcend the possibility of other kinds of museum matter ( !Ienning 2007). cfkcting a kind of 'figurati\ L' repatriation ( Kramer 2004) and reconnect ion between museum collections. commun it ics and individuals.1 In turn. the creation ofnC\\ digital collections has expanded the possibilities of how the 0\\ncrship of collections may be imagined (Geismar 200X). and has forged a new genre of collection: digital cultural heritage (Bnmn 2007: Cameron and Kcndcrdinc 2007) as well as new forms of return rcl"crrcd to as 'digital repatriation' (Christen 20 II: Hennessy 2009).' The digital has become the leitmotif of a broader lick! of museum practice in which musL'Umobjects may no longer be understood in and ofthcmsch cs. hut as part of broader fields of representation. mediation and communication. As I ha\ c argued clsc\\herc (Geismar 2010). stimulated by Conn's polemical question. /)o \fn,ctlllll

thmugh the representation of these objects within the museum (sec Bennett 1995).
lim\ do digital technologies participate in the representational and creative habitus of the museum') How docs binary code fit into a continuum of knowlcdl.':e management and presentation') How docs the digital enhance the sensory

power~ and

afl;ctivity

of exhibitions') In the case studies that I(JIIow. I reevaluate the broad claim. common across digital studies. that the digital is a completely new domain of l(mll and practice that creates social and material encounters that are radically difkrcnt from its antcccdcnts. The emergence of digital technologies in museums is in 1~1 ct part of
1

.')till ,Vccd Ohjcc/.1 :) (20 I 0). much museum studies literature uses a spccitic template
for understanding museum objects. cxcmpli1icd by nineteenth-century collections ol material culture. This \ icw of objects docs not understand digital technologies (computer monitors. \ideo installations. sound) as nc11 objects in collections. but rather sees them as IT-mediations of the authentic stufL Recent anthropological 11 nrk on digital collections pnl\ ides a corrective to this pcrspccti1c: Isaac's 1vork on technology in the National Museum of the American Indian (200X) and Kirschcnblatt-

a long-standing trajectory of networking, classifying and I(Jrging representations of relationships between people and things.

An Overview of the Anthropology of Digital Technologies in Museums


Accounts of the digital as a new genre of museum practice arc largely celebratory, applauding the democratic expansion of a commons of cultural in formation and objects
](){)

Ciimblctt's \\ork at the Museum ofthc llistnry ofthc Polish .lc\\s in \Varscm (2009) sensitively take into account the nature of digital materiality and digital collcctiom; and their implication l(ll" nc\\ museum projects. for instance'' riling of the National Museum of the American Indian's 'purpose lit! and philosophicalmo\c <may Jiom what the director pcrcci1 cd to be the object-centric museum model' (200X: 29 I).

268 Digital AnthrojJO/ogl

1/11.\('//11/

l>igilitl

:' 269

Isaac discusses how touch screens and other digital media in the exhibitions arc ollen more accessible and visually compelling than the other objects on display. She argues that 'the media technology it sci r becomes a museum object, rc4uiring an ideological shill in how we situate new configurations of these means or communicating or interpreting knowledgcs' (200X: 306~ sec Frey and Kirschcnblatt-Gimblett 2002). For Isaac, digital technologies form part of new muscological strategies of display that negotiate and try to distance themselves from colonial legacies or objectification and that provide new aesthetics l(lr visual experience and sensory engagement Ill museums. Similarly, Deirdre Brown (2007, 200X) describes the Virtual Patu project in Canterbury, New Zealand (in which an unprovcnanccd 1mlwiko or cleaver in the Canterbury Museum was digitized and apprehended by \isitors \\caring user-worn de\ ices via the Magic Book augmented reality interface), and Tc /fhua I /ikuffhe Digital Form (an ~:xpcrimcntal project in which Maori performers were digiti;:ed
thrcc-dim~:nsionally, then electronically ins~:rtcd into a Mftori animated environment,

domain functions simultaneously as a representation of other site~ and practices and as a site and practice in itsciL This pcrpdual 'doubling needs to be unpaLkcd sinec it is one ofthc key \\ays in which the digital \\orks. Such doubling maps onto many tensions at the heart of anthropological im cstigation that I(H man). tiom material culture theorists ( c .g. ( ic II 119921 1999~ M i llcr 2005: Strathern 1990) to proponents of multiple ontologies (e.g. llcnarc, llolbraad and Waste II 2007). takes questions of representation as central not just to the form of the cnquil) hut to its cnntcnt. In the rest of this chapter, I cmphasi;:c that the digital is a spccilic l(mn nf museum object that moulds in particular\\ ays. as any other artcl:!cl does. the classilicatory systems and epistemological framc\\orks that in turn structure museums and the practice of collecting and exhibiting artcl~lcts. In other \\Ords. the digital in museums creates an epistemology for understanding the relation bel\\ ccn objects. kJHm il'dge. people and the cmironmcnt. In the l(llltming case studies. I sunc) the \\a)s in which digital technologies both encode c\isting relations and impose ne\\ l(lnns and orders on c\isting museum practices.

to he played to visitors to th<.: Canterbury Museum). She argues that digital technologies arc able to activate the obj~:cts' tru~: meaning and purpose in ways that more static, and less immcrsivc, traditional ways of displaying indigenous objects cannot (sec also Taylor 20 I 0). These digital objects arc fully understood as authentic and traditional, and they ar<.: treasured by indigenous people. Alongside these accounts or what is both new and traditional about digital collections is a gnm ing body of work that analyses the digital as a zone for reordering knowlcdg~: systems and museum epistemologies. The trope of 'rclationality', inspired by the mapping of social and material Jiclds using actor network theory as well as anthropological material culture studies, is increasingly used as a guiding discursive tool l(lr understanding how complex material engagements in museums may he translated into digital l(mn (see C_ilass and Kcramidas 2011 ~ Zcitlyn, Larson and Pctch 2007)-'' The relational knowledge Jiclds converted into binary and rcmcdiatcd by digital technologies arc not Jixcd, hut rather are continually emergent out or preexisting fields, power relations and modes of social engagement, ranging from staJTto solhvarc, which in turn create the habitus\\ ithin which people make sense or digital technologies in the museum space. Manovich observes that the (museum) database is not just a structure for storing inl(mnation, it is a symbolic form in which the intcrl~lcc and the object are the same thing ( 119991 20 I 0: (l9). For a digital anthropology. this draws attention to the complex ways in which social transformation is mediated by processes of representation- in the case or digital technologies, predominantly 'visual representations mediated by binary code. In this sense we can map an anthropology or the conversion or information about museum collections into digital form onto something like the anthropology orkinsh1p, in which the map (or kinship diagram/I~Jmily tree) brings its subject into being as much as it represents it (sec Bouquet 1996). In analysing many digital museum projects, it soon becomes apparent that the digital As is typical of the kind of recursion common to the \\ays in\\ hich the digital is understood to both e\ okc and respond to sociality (sec Kelt) 200X ). digital t<.:chnologiL'S in museums presume a theory of the social and olicn represent not on I) objects and collections but the social relations that collections and kJHm ledge systems arc acti\ c participants within. This is why digital museum tools are olicn described in terms of their social cJTccts--access. accessibility, availability. dcmocrati;ation. community. constituency and their alter egos secrecy, restriction. protocols and hierarchy. The digital is a continual process of translation and apprehension (the creation of an interface) by which data is com crtcd into binary inl(mnation that is com crtcd back into multiple representations that arc both codilications as ''ell as instantiations of sociality. Sociality in this form is nwdcllcd in terms ofnct\\orks. access and openness. What. howe\ cr. is achic\ ~:d through accc,;,; to this kind of soc1al cncounter'1 How do these codes transl(mn social relations. if at all'' What do they really describe'? The emergence of social tagging, and the representational thcnry of fnlksonomy ( collaborati\ c J(mns of classilication ). in relation to museum information management systems is a good place to think these questions through. In 2005 the
Stc\c.mus~:um project \\as l(llmdcd in the United States to address concerns by art

Case One: Digital Forms as Encoding Sociality-Tagging, Folksonomy and Crowd Curation

museums regarding the expansion of access through digiti;ation and placing their collections online. One of many similar museum projects at this time interested in harnessing the pm,cr of Web 2.0 in the museum, Stc\ c attempted to create and investigate the potential l(lr tagging, or user-generated ta\olwmics. in describing collections. i\s its \\ cbsitc describes, the Stc\ c project 'l(mncd a collaboration. open

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to anyone interested in thinking about social tagging and its value to museums, and began to dnclop a set ol'opcn source tools !'or collecting, managing. and analyzing user-contributed dcscript ions'. The notion or open-access via digitiz.ation ol' collection;, and their accessibility on the Internet and the kinds ol' participation that this both presumes and promotes has been a central theme to many museum engagements vv ith the digital. Tagging, objcctwikis, l(llhonomics and ermvd curation hme all become liames l(lr articulating and promoting the democratization ol'the museum, olien described in glowingly utopic terms.' For example. ('ameron. framing the work ol'the l'owcrhousc Museum in Sydney\ investigations or a more open classilicatory system comments: (ioogle-mediatcd searches arc enabling the "networked object' to play a role in political interventions in public ctilture ... This highlight;, the lluidity. complc.\ity. contLsted and political nature of cultural interactions ami exchanges around what an object might mean. It al;,o demonstrate;, hmv the divide bctvveen so-called high culture and popular culture. museum culture and public culture can spontaneously dissolve. and hmv easily people can combine museum collections with other cultural l(mns. ({ ameron and Mcnglcr 2009: 1'!2)

Srinivasan ct al. (2009a, 2009h) challenge such celebratory discussions ol' tagging and I(Jiksonomy. They are sceptical ol' the kinds or expert knowledge that arc required not only to make sense ol' collections hut or the digital intcrli1cc. and they question the assumption that tagging and other online additions to catalogue inl(lrmation permit a deeper, more sustained engagement vv ith collections. A certain kind or curatorial process is needed !(Jr projects that potentially engage masses or people, 11 hich in some ways replicates the same structures ol' authority that the utopian visions ol' open access and l(llksonomy arc trying to leave behind. In a February 20 II search on the Stcv c project website intended to locate examples ol' intcrcsting tags, most Of the Jinks to participating. museums wcrc broken, and of the images of art\Vorks linked in the section 'Steve in Action', almost all ol'thcm remained untagg.cd. There is increasing recognition by museum prokssionals. and by the Steve project, that in order to be useful. tagging. needs to he modcratcd and standardized. with constituencies organized into communities or 'trust'." Access to the democratic republic of tagging. works best with smaller communities of Jikc-mindcd people who share knowledge bases, interests and skill sets.;" Tagging and J(Jiksonomics arc perhaps hcttcr understood as representations or users as well as collections, rdkcting the intent ol' the museum to represent itself as open and non-hierarchical on the one hand and rclkcting the opinions and knmvlcdg.c ol' the public on the other. They arc recursive in that they create a J(mn or openness (and a pcrccption or the public) that in turn alters the public\ perception ol' the museum as an open space. Many projects arc succcssl'ul in these terms and genuinely inlkct a sense or participation even il' the actual J(mn or participation

in l(mnalizing knmdcdgc around collections remains limited. For instance. \\'hitc (2009) argues that the Ill'\\ digital gallery and database ( hrl' .)j)(f('(' at the 1\luscum or Ncvv Zealand Te Papa Tonga rewa, ensures that the museum liv cs up to its objcctiv e to present itself as a 'I(Jrum l(n the nation. Our Sj)(r<''' comprises an online component in which users can upload their 0\\ n images to lhL central sen cr. dclining 'their' New Zealand through both image and associated documentation (sec http: ourspacc.tepapa.com:).'' These images arc then acliv atcd in the lllltseum on a digital \\aiL upon which other visitors may choose !'rom the archiv c. create Ill'\\ images and content and create their O\\ n cultural map ol' Ncvv /ealamL 11 hich they can sav L' on a memory slick to take ;may'' ith them. My 0\\ll contribution to the archive, lvvo photographs tagged 'cheese' and 'road trip'. hme been used on the v\aiii(Jur times (as oi'March 2011). llmvevcr. a scan ol' the intcractivc \\all that is photographed and archived online shov\s mainly the grinning I~Kcs of museum v isilors as they play\\ ith the louch-scrccnlcchnology. The most common usc ofthc \\all is lhcrci(Jrc in the project ofscll'-rcprcscnlalion. Users v\ork on their ll\\ n scll'-imagc and literally emplace themselves in the museum. but lillie real dialogue about the nature or collections. the democratization or l'll!lccptual categories or classificatory systems emerges. The nc11 digital space has been exploited J()r purposes ol' scll'-prcscntation that becomes the objccliv c ol' entering into a relationship vv ilh the museum's digital collections. In the succcssl'ully crmvd-curalcd exhibition ('lick.' held al the Brooklyn rvluseum in 200X, anyone 11ith Internet access \\as invited lo participate in the selection of images online.'' An open cal ito artists im itcd electronic submissions on the theme 'The Changing Face of Brooklyn'. Visitors to the vvchsitc \\CrL' then inv itcd logo through the image hank and anonymously jury the exhibition. The linal selection included images 'democratically' prckrred by the majority ol'v isilors. The supplementary ini(Jrmation on the\\ chsite broke down jurists by location. allmv cd access lo comment and discussion around the images and other J:tcls and ligures about the exhibition \1 ere collected. Howev cr. as one or the inv itcd commentators (a curator at the Brooklyn Muscumoi'Art) noted. highlighting the rccursivily ol'thcsc digital initiatives: So it' the crovv djuried the imagL'S, hln\ 11 as it cur;ltcd'' :\nd "hal 11 as thL' idea Lurall'tl'.' The theme ol'the photographs submitted ll<lS 'The Changing laCL'S or Hrookh n.' but that is nollhLtheme ol'the installation that is prLsenll'd in lllll' galleries ..\ltlwugh the changing l~lces or Brooklyn is an idea that under Iics each or thl' \\ nrks nr arl in the l''.hibitinn. the exhibition ihL'i f is aboullhl' notion of selection, and. SJ1l'CilicaJJy. SL'Iection b\' the CJ'll\\ d..

Case Two: Radical Archives and the Limits of Openness


My 1irsl example ol'thc 11ays in 11hich digilaltcchnologics have been used lo open up the process of knm\ ledge production. interpretation and curalion to dillcrcnL

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o

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nontraditional constituents highlights bricfty hm\ digital museum practices encode social theories and work to produce an image of a public and. by extension. the museum-visiting public itself. These new museum subjects inevitably add a layer of (sciHrcprcscntational dfcct to digital objects. In this second case study. I move behind the scenes to look at the ways digital archives constitute an alternative imaginary of access and public access that similarly critiques the representational authority of the museum and archive. Unlike the crowd curation and tagging projects. which open up collections promiscuously. these radical archi\ cs resist and sub\ crt the model of open access. They ticqucntly critique the authority of museum collecting practices speaking hack to histories of privileged access and exclusion. Projects focused on indigenous peoples and collections exemplify this trend. For many indigenous peoples. especially those in settler colonies with vibrant museum cultures (l:.g. Australia. Canada and New Zealand). this is a question of sovereignty as much as protocol. Access to archives becomes a political act where control 0\ cr the visibility of inl(mnation is hoped to facilitate the devolution of other kinds of power and authority. As Field points out. connections to museum collections reflect crucial interpretive issues around 'recognized status and ... the sovereignty over their cultural identities (200S: 25 ). The potential for openness evoked by digital technologies makes them fertile grounds I(Jr expressing this critique. The project Digital Futures by anthropologist Eli;:abcth Povinclli. who has worked I(Jr many years in Aboriginal Australia. interrogates the resonance of archiving practices for Aboriginal Australians and 'asks what a postcolonial digital archive becomes iL instead of information. circulation. and access. we interrogate it li01n the perspective of socialities of obligation, responsibility and attachmcnt'. 14 Upon entering the project and clicking on a map location. text on screen informs us that: You an: about to participate in a form of circulation. the circulation of information. persons and socialities. This I(Jrnl of circulation has a mctal(mn. a sociality. a way of anticipating. addressing. and incorporating the things that move through it. including you. The government wishes to help. The site then presents a series of tilmcd narratives. mediated by a digital cartography. that fundamentally destabilizes the viewer. The narratives arc elliptical. like the I(Jotagc. off-subject. challenging our expectation of the kinds of information that should be archived or the ways in which cultural knowledge might be visually and discursively embodied. As digital catalogues move outside of the space of the museum or archive (via web technologies). the context in which these relationships arc v icwcd becomes infinite. as the terminals on which the catalogues arc viewed will vary as \\ell as the physical environments in \vhich they arc located. challenging the boundaries of how the museum itself liamcs this material and holds authority over it. Povinclli's archive will ultimately be based in handheld units (like smartphoncs). in

which geographic information system technologies \\ill link stories. photos.\ idcos and other data in ways that can only be accessed when people arc in specific places. Another text that scrolls over the screen as you navigate the site states: 'E\ en as I address you as nm this is an impcrsonal you. a third person l(mn of the second person. We have programmed rou into this site without knowing\\ ho you arc. Many discussions of the process of digitizing in museums take I(Jr granted. particularly in the context of museums and archives. that collections arc supposed to be seen (sec Brown 199S ). This is part of our mvn. olicn unexamined. cultural perspective that insists on visibility as one of the prime modes of acquiring knO\\ ledge (seeing is believing). Our own cultural assumption is that digiti/ation equals access and broad circulation. even though governments and corporations arc desperately encoding restrictions in law. However. the open circulation of images and objects and information may. in Ltct, work against local understandings of the appropriate usc of museum collections. For Aboriginal Australians. I(Jr instance. only initiated cultural insiders arc traditionally supposed to fully apprehend the true meaning and stories contained within locally produced images. C\Cn as they circulate in \\idcr and wider contexts (see Myers 2002. 2004 ). Indigenous protocols that hinge around the idea of invisibility (or holding back) arc carried through into other contexts: f()r example historically in many communities. when someone died. all mention of the person would cease and his or her belongings vv mild be destroyed. The person was no longer referred to. represented or seen- pro\ oking an anxiety regarding the unauthorized presence of photographs in print. on display or in archives. These traditional protocols arc being institutionali;:cd in new \\ays. despite an on-the-ground tluidity in the ways in which Aboriginal Australians thcmsch cs usc photographs and other media images (see Deger 2006 ). In Australia. it is increasingly the custom to prci~tcc pub Iications. exhibitions.\\ cbsitcs and ti lms with a\\ arning to Aboriginal people that they may see images of people nmv deceased in order to limit the cultural harm that this visibility may render. Howc\cr. the proliferation of technology works in communities in dilkrcnt \\ ays. and opening images up to ditkrcnt forms of mobility (particularly mobile telephones) has altered Aboriginal engagements with the materiality and visibility of digital images (sec Christcn2005). Digital technologies thus l~tcilitatc a sustained engagement \Vith the ptm cr relations that surround the museum and archive. In Australia. there is a gnm ing digital movement that rethinks the openness and accountability of digital archi\ cs. The Ara lritija project is a database and archive housed in mobile units that service thirtyone Aboriginal communities in central Australia (sec Christen 2006: Thorner 20 I 0: http://www.irititja.com/). The mobile platform is an archi\ c organi/cd \\ ith community engagement and protocols in mind that is ncl\vorkcd on a locali/.cd intranct. Thorner describes this process of' indigcni;:ing the internet. but comments that 'the potential ofthc new Ara lritija (both the solh\arc package and its dynamic approach to archiving) is embedded in its optimized flexibility. and yet. there arc limits to the \\ ays in which digital technologies can be mobili;:cd in the interests of Anangu
1 '

274 /)igito/ Anthro;)()/ogr


cultural production' (Thorner 2010: J:lX: sec also Christie 200)). Indigenous database projects arc continually negotiating between different domains: community expectation and experience, local knowledge systems, pre\ ious methods of collecting and organil'.ing collections and the constraints of digital technology (with its attendant expectation of f(mn, content and access). Another example of how these protocols can he expressed (and effected) digitally can he f(nllld in the Mukurtu Wumpurrarni-kari Archive, a browser-based digital archive created initially f(Jr the Warumungu community in Tennant Creek, Northern Territory, Australia, in collaboration with Kim Christen, Chris Cooney and other researchers from the United States and Australia. Mukurtu has nm\ been launched as open-source sotiware aimed specifically to prmidc archiving solutions f(Jr indigenous peoples and other communities with nonhcgemonic archival needs and desires.1'' Initially, the project\ goal was to develop a local archive that was sensitive to indigenous concerns regarding the handling of cultural materials that belonged to specific communities, f~tmilies and individuals. But the project also aims to prmide a more universal platf(mn for indigenous people, an alternative archival structure to the conventional museum catalogue that presumes open access and a particular model of proprietorship over cultural knowledge and objects. In this way, the specificity of Aboriginal Australian negotiations with their own traditions of image management and the settler-colonial culture of museum collection is made generic and extended to other cultural and colonial contexts. A demonstration of the archive (also as a contribution to the journal VL'c/ors entitled 'Digital Dynamics Across ( 'ulturcs', http:/ /vcctorsjournal.org/projccts/indcx. php' 1projcct=67) illustrates a number of ways to deal with the combination of Aboriginal protocols and the reproduction of images in the archive: photographs are obscured by pieces of tape or made entirely unavailable: videos cut out or fade halfway through and warnings arc given about the gcndcred nature of knowledge. In addition, each of these protocols is explained carefully on the site to give the nonindigenous viewer a chance to rethink the viewing restrictions that arc embedded " within Aboriginal engagements with images in the archive. 1 The commons-a public-domain resource open to all to appropriate both visually and in other operational ways has been indigenil'cd, re-presented \\ ithin a frame of very difTcrenl values around access, visibility and entitlement. It is becoming clear that in some places the upshot of community collaboration and consultation around collections may in fitcl he the end of public access to certain collections and the emergence of what I term an 'indigenous commons'--archivcs regulated in relation to very di fh;rcnt kinds of protocols to those that have developed within the colonial or modern museum (Cicismar f(Jrthcoming: chap. 5: c.r Brown
2003 ). Rather than being tools of enlightenment, in which the world is neatly packFiglll'l' IJ,2 Figure 13.1

\fn,et/11/

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Screen shot li-mn thL' Digital Dynatnics Aero" ( "ultures project.

Screen shot from the Digital DC> namies Across CulturL'S prnwct.

visitor, and in which \ isihility is not the only way in \\ hich this relationship may be configured. The end space and aficr-elkct of many of these projcds is, like the SIC\ c. museum, representational as well as political. The representations of these archi\ cs draw attention to the basic assumptions of access and a\ ailability and the presence or other epistemological and ordering protocols. A debate has arisen bet\\ ccn commentators such as M ichacl Brown ( 199X, 2003 ), \\ ho think it inappropriate and impractical to translate the di\ersity or indigenous \alucs and entitlement into generic or national cultural/museum policy, and those \\ ho think that this \ ic\\ perpetuates the

aged and displayed f(Jr a general public, democratically defined (sec Bennett 1995), the sensibility of 'radical archives' suggests an understanding of knm\ ledge as constructed through power-inflected and specific relations between object, institution and

276 !Jigi!al ilnthmtJo/og\'


very hierarchies and clitisms that rccoding and rc-signifying projects aim to address (e.g. Simpson 2007). I argue that digital projects need to be understood not only as representational projects but also as real-world sites of engagement and experience.

\fn,eum ' /)igirul :' 277

and terminologies. Christie describes ho\\ his project to create a Yolngu database worked with 'friendly and fuzzy search systems' (2005: 57).'' hich could incorporate alternate spellings. pronunciations and lc\cls of literacy as appropriate for a pri\ ikged aboriginal user. lie notes. Databases arc said to h;n c ontologies inso!~tr as they bear assumptions about the fundamental natun..' of\\ hatlhL'\ contain' (ChrisliL' 2005: 60). We arc made ;marc throughout our searches\\ ithin a digiti;cd museum catalnguc that the end result a series of catalogue records -has emerged not only because of and to u,;. the user. our own inpulling of terms of enquiry. but because of' a complex

Case Three: New Database, New Epistemology'? The Digital Practices of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre
In my final example. I turn to the digitizing practices of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and National Museum (VCC). which aim to constitute a synthetic archive that unites many different kinds of collections: audio. photographic, video. objects. archaeological site research and languages. In this example. I argue that we need to understand the emergence of digital practices in cultural context and with historical specificity. Two key tropes within contemporary accounts of the digital arc rupture and novelty: the digital is presumed to herald unprecedented radical structural and social transformation. Yet accounts of the development of the telegraph (Standage

im isiblc--proccss of classification and organi;ation. The end-\ ie\\ itself. generated by our idiosyncratic engagement \\ ith the available search criteria. i,; alsn \\hat draws some relationships into \ icw and obscures others. This is the problem \\ ith many understandings of digital relationality that assume relationships and\ isibility to be one and the same. It is also a problem'' ith the\ i,;uali;ation and metaphor of the nct\\ork promoted within actor network theory that presumes to map sociality as a form of visible connccti\ ity. The ncr-im isiblc (to all but the programmers) domain of the digital (the binary code itself) itself instantiates a critique of the\ isiblc network. As many of the articles in this volume demonstrate. the digital is not something that is brought to culture.
f~1cilitating

1991\) or of eighteenth-century wetware (Riskin 2003) demonstrate a lengthy history of technological (rc )mediation of our very understanding of the object world.
In practice. catalogue systems have long been precedents for the digital mediation of collections. Despite the multiplicity of digital projects and uses. almost all digital museum forms have their roots in a relatively limited number of programmed forms (e.g. the relational database) and algorithms (sec Manovich 2002: chap. I). which in turn use binary code to create secondary representations which themselves are apprehended as primary cultural representations (exhibition displays. text. image, sound and film and so forth). 1 ~ This raises the question ofwhat precisely is new or novel within digital museum forms and what indeed is culturally specific'? Does the digital museum Iorge new kinds of social relationships and practices or docs it replicate, or encode. preexisting oncs' 1 A further set of questions revolve around the social and political implications of these replications and transformations. For example. is digital repatriation a genuinely new condition of ownership for new and renewed f(mns of cultural heritage/museum collections' 1 Or docs it reinforce centuries-old imperial hierarchies of access and ownership of collections. offering the olive branch of digital access without actually sharing power or ownership of the original objects that remain in the museum. perhaps even recreating a colonial muscology' 1 In the case of Vanuatu. we may also ask what indigenous f(mns are being encoded within the space of the database. This discussion is taken from a longer account of the database at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre (Geismar and Mohns 20 II). Analysts understand digital code to not only signify but reorder knowledge at a prof(lUnd level. Srinivasan and Huang (2005) develop the notion of 'fluid ontologies. in which database cncodings may be used to alter the hierarchies emplaced within classificatory systems in museums by privileging ditlerent fields. concepts

or changing it. It is a cultural object and a

cultural process. In this way. \\e need to develop a pcrspccti\c on digital technologies in museums that sees these f(mns as structure and effect. an intrinsic part of the dialectic of cultural production (Miller
19~7).

lvcn the most innocuou,; clas-

sificatory system emerges fiOtn classifications that in turn reflect lout! \a lues. local understanding of connectivity and local framings of knm\ ledge. The magnification of thousands of local museum catalogues into incrcao.;ingly global databases in
f~tcl

magnifies their provincialism rather than reducing it. For instance. Table 13.1 sllll\\S a list of the keywords starting with the letter C f(Jr the catalogue of' the Vanuatu National Museum--the words that organi;c and catcgori/c the collections. They could only be generated in Vanuatu and of course speak to the history and concern,; of' this Pacific archipelago. At the same time. the words (in English. the language of one of Vanuatu's colonial administrations) represent gcnerilications of' local experience that map onto lexicons of anthropology. museum classification and other typological systems. These keywords organi1.c the collection. determine the outcome of research and regulate access to objects and inl(lrmation. They both structure the collection and gi\ c substance to it. The digital collections of the Vanuatu Cultural Centre can nO\\ be catalogued in relation to a number of diiTercnt viewing restrictions (currently the system relics on sixteen dif'lcrent levels of restriction based on gender. Ltmily. \ illagc. descent group and island). Any one of' these categories/restrictions has the pm\ cr to remo\ e the record entirely from visibility. An entry archived in relation to these restrictions \\ill not be made available in a search until a user\\ ith the appropriate pri\ ilegcs logs in.

278

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paraphernalia and artclltcts recorded in a 1 aricty ol'mcdia: 11 rittcn texts, audiotapes. tilm, slides and photographs. As the Tabu Room is in the process ot' king incur( '<l((Uil

(an ing:-. and Sculpture...,

poratcd, and indeed transf(mllcd, into the database. all materiaL including digital materiaL is subject to the same restrictions as any nlhcr artcl~tct, and a cop) ot' C\ cr) recording is lell with the people 11ith 11hom it 11as made, both assuaging people's concerns about the rcmm al or local kustom !'rom the islands and ncating further anxiety about the possibility or endless circulation or mishandling. At the time ol'
11

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l'hic:kc:n

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intranct-it is primarily accessed by the curatorial team In the

vee

and is used b~

members or indi1 idual sections to upload and organi/c data. to pcrl(mn searches l(lr internal usc and on behalf ot' the general public and\ isiting researchers. The most synthetic usc or the catalogue is in the National Library. \'isilcd C\ cry day b) local ni- Vanuatu and schoolchildren, the l\\ o librarians usc the catalogue to do thematic liard copies of photographs arc hidden in the 'real' archive in manila envelopes that must not be opened, and even curators an: excluded Jiom accessing these images. Viewing collections in relation to local protocols is an important intervention and challenge to the authority ol' any nH1scum to speak I(Jr, ordn and present cultural materials. Developed using open-source sotl\\ arc, the database has been coded by committee (a team comprising technical stafT and cultural experts). This committee extends the remit or the vee to bring local kmm ledge into the museum, to respect grassroots and newly national hierarchies or entitlement and authority and to engage
V\

searches I(Jr any v isilor, and the list of' associated music sound. films, documents and books arc printed out and gi1 en to \ isitors to assist them 11 ith their research. What is really impairing the usability or the database is a lack or hard\\ arc, not soli\\ arc limitations. There arc no nctl\orkcd computers a1ailable I(Jr public access structurc to
l~tcilitatc current!~

in the vee and limited resources I(Jr the maintenance and upgraLk ol'nct\lllrk intiaboth internal and public access. Despite these limitations, the database has created a template I'll! restructuring the \lays vee stat'!' and users interact \lith the collection and archiiCS. Stallllill still control the le1cl of accessibility of' inl(mnation stored in the <tn:hi1cs, but once the appropriate sta1Tmcmbcr assigns a level ol'acccssibilit;. then an:vonc 11 ho is granted that IC\clot'acccss can potentially access that inl(mnation 11 itlwutthc knm1 ledge or assistance of' that staiT member. In short, 11 hik

ith this through museum practices timn collecting to c:-.hibiting and programming.

This coding practice unites very local concerns I(Jr knowledge management with more global templates. The template I(Jr the database\ model or secrecy is not only the at1(mlanccs or nc\\ digital technologies but a number ot' geophysical locations: the sacred men's houses within localnawra (dancing grounds) und a room within the inner sanctum ot'thc Vee archive known as the Tabu Room (1\hcrc the photographs arc quietly filed away). This room, with locked door, was constructed to reassure those permitting sensitive or restricted material to be recorded and collected that the material would not be freely a1ailable I(Jr viewing by those who \\ere not entitled, and as a sak house to protect such material !'rom the potential threat or hurricanes, tropical rain and erosion. Since its inception, 1illagcrs ha1c been encouraged to usc the room as a bank l(x lw.1tom, to protect v alucd artclltcts and documentation and to prcscnc them for future generations, sak in the knowledge that the archives can he restricted along kastom guidelines defined mainly by connections or persons to places, to llunilics, and by traditional status. The collections in the Tabu Room thus constitute a pre-digital archive drawn out of traditional practice by the idiosyncratic appropriation or international museum technologies and principles by the vee: audiovisual recording, archiving and conservation (sec (icismar and Tilley 2003: Sam l9l)6 ). Such newly made museum objects include documentations ot' personal testimonies. stories, myths, music ceremonies, national political and cultural events, ritual

vee staiT control the parameters l'l1r

access to indi1 idual objects. some of the rule ot' keeper and gatekeeper or ktlll\\ ledge is transkrrcd timn the staiT member to the database system as the user interacts 11ith the system to ret ric\ c cultural inl(mnation rather than the stall or vee. Through discussing hm1 to deal 11 ith the issue ot' place in cataloguing these images in the database, it \\as clear that I(Jr the database committee the l(mn or the database was mapped directly onto the handling or the material in question. There was no distinction made bcl\\Ccn the 1 irtual inl(mnation 11 ithin the database and
an~

other object: masks. cassettes, photographs, \ idcos and other documents and documentation. The rckrcncc and rckrcnt arc one and the sanK'. This contlatiLln is supported by the pragmatic decision ot'thc vee to usc the hard drive, or\ cry substance ol' the database. as its l'undamcntal unit ot' storage. Increasingly, these gigabytes ot' storage arc the\ cry t'orm or the collection, particularly as the vee I(JCUSCS its\\ ork on audiovisual documentation. Thcrci(Jrc, \\hen bnm sing the image or music tiles of the nC\\ ly digili/cd collection of oral traditions
lll'

of photographs, one is able to

connect directly 11 ith the source or the rckrcncc --to do11 nload the museum-quality image or to listen to the recording itself'. The diiTcrcncc bct11Ccn an tdca ol'thc original object and any other copies is thcrcltl!"C nut really an issue in this digital space. and this pragmatic 1 ic1\ maps onto an ontological 1 ic11 of' authcnticitv that has been

280 /Jigitol /117/hmtwlogr

\!niCI/111

/)igitu!

:' 281

described hy many anthropologists as\ cry Melanesian (sec Leach 2003 ). This is in keeping with local understandings or objects, in which it is the reference point or knowledge behind the form that is the essential object rather than the momentary l(mn in which it might he manifCstcd.'" Unlike most databases, which arc pcrceiYt:d to be almost shado\\ s or partial representations or the collection (it sci r housed elscw here)_ the ingly configures the digital collection
a1

merely engender nC\\ l(mns of sociality. at least not in the \lay that they arc usually described. Rather. digital technologies facilitate the emergence and de\ clopmcnt of existing social concerns through the one quality that they ha\ c that dirtcrs to other f(mnal mechanisms for engendering social connccti\ it) or managing access and accountability. That quality is that of recursi\ ity. or reflcxi\ ity. It is a quality in'' hich sociality is reflected through the t(mns that both produce and represent it. This recursive eftect creates a compressed 1onc in which technology and sociality seem to. in
f~JCt, be the same thing. The recursive cfkct ofthc digital in museum is to fi.1reground

vee

database increas-

the work of the VCC. Object collection has

always been a subsidiary occupation or the

vee. \\ ith

photography being perhaps

the archetypal material collected. The principles or photography. with its basis in evidential and ohjccti\c recording and the potential f(lr multiple reproduction and circulation. is much more suited to the main interests or the

and make visible a kind of sociality that was historically obscured by museums in the ways in which collections were made. organized and displayed. NO\\ Aboriginal Australians and ni- Vanuatu arc also making their
0\\

vee

in cultural regen-

n cultural protocob \ isible (and.

eration and activation than the more object-led model of sah aging material which is supposed to stand in l(lr disappearing or diminished cultural practice. Instead, museum objects (photographs. video. tilm and audio recordings) arc very much viewed as momentary manifCstations of cultural practices. the recording of \\hich. as a process. contributes to the perpetuation of practice. both within and without the museum walls (see Geismar 2006; Geismar and II eric 20 I 0). Focusing on the ways in which the database participates in creating networks focused on place, secrecy and restriction and language demonstrates how digital spaces don't just represent other spaces. but arc part of the processes by which these spaces, and relationships. arc I(Jrgcd. We sec how the importing or certain technologies (and the attendant importing or llcxibility and cultural sensitivity they permit) engenders a dialogue that is made visible via the aesthetic of the database itseiL Its users arc not abstract citizens. or the public. hut people with specific investments in the networks of connection that lie within.

indeed. deciding what to render invisible). Visitors to Tc Papa make thcmsehcs and their own photographs visible in the f(mnal halls of the institution. These arc true challenges to the authority of the museum. but they arc made using tools pro\ idcd and structured hy that very institution. In turn. and some\\ hat paradoxically. digital cncodings of collections can also challenge this 1 cry visibility. and they ha\ c the potential to restructure display and access. Accounts of digital practice and f(Jrm in museums that can be called truly anthropological arc still
fC\1

and f~1r between. Studies or digital technology in museums

tend to be over-determined by the f(mn of the digital and less descripti\c of the intricate ways in which the digital can be cmbcddcd in pre-existing fiames of being: of classification. epistemology and sociality (but sec Isaac 2011 ). 1-lo\\C\Cf. many of these accounts draw out the ways in '' hich these digital projects arc themsch cs inherently anthropological: in that they arc de f~1cto representations of emergent theories or sociality. and which in f~lct function through these rcprcsentations or social interconnection. The f(mns of sociality that arc presumed by the relational database and the way in which it may be extended into a hypcrsociality of the World \Vide

Conclusion
In the case studies presented in this chapter, I ha\ c emphasized the ways in which digital technologies encode dif!Crcnt f(ml1S or sociality, in very difl'erent places around the world. Whilst it might seem that I am promoting a rcification of cultural dilkrcncc along borders very f~nniliar to anthropologists in which Melanesians. or Aboriginal Australians. arc somehow radically different to non-indigenous Brooklynitcs or New Zealanders, in f~1ct I am highlighting the \\ays in which all digital technology is bound up within the same epistemologies of cultural representation as other kinds of museum artcf'act and practice and should be scrutinized with the same level of comparative attention and cultural sensitivity. However. it is also true that digital technologies have pro\ idcd an important forum f(Jr indigenous people to raise a series or critiques of mainstream museum practices and issues regarding access. accessibility and the public--to levy a critique of cultural relativism itself. I am suggesting here that digital technologies do not, contra many accounts,

Web or made to conform to more cxclusi\ c sets of indigenous protocols suggest that the work of digital anthropology is itself encoded in the digital platform. This is not to suggest that the task of the analyst is merely to c:-..posc an endless rccursi\ ity between objects. data, cultural systems and digital systems. but rather to highlight the ways in which all of thcsc digital projects continue the l(nmdational '' ork of museums more generally --to create a sense of public. to dra\\ in community and engage community with broader cducati1 c. cxprcssi\c and experiential ideas about knowing things through things. The digital is yet another object through kmm ledge practices arc channelled within museums. As museums and galleries mm c into digital cm ironmcnts such as Second Lik. as we increasingly experience objects first and f(1rcmost in digital form. as the strategy of the hyperlink both defines and expands the 11ays in\\ hich difkrcnt f(mns of knowledge can be connected to collections. it is important that'' c ha\ c accounts of digital practice that arc cthnographic. that focus on the decisions. structures. assumptions and imaginaries that themselves encode code.
11

hich thcsc

282 Uigital A nthmpologr

.l!li.IC/1/JI

/)igitul

., 283

Notes
llcre I'm thinking ol"thc brash talk ol"thc 'Twitter Revolution' and the certainty that a disembodied social media could I(Jmcnt political transt(mnation to an unprecedented degree. Sec, I(Jr example. the Virtual Museum oi"Canada initiative (http://\\\\\\.museevirtucl-v irtualmuscum.ca/indcx-cng.jsp ). The US Holocaust Memorial M uscum states that its online exhibitions 'present new subjects and also extend the reach ol" Museum public programs and special exhibitions' (sec http://\\w\\.ushmm. org/muscum/cxhibit/onlinc/). Equally, the Hritish Library uses its specially devised 'turning the pages' soliwarc to enable online visitors to access virtual books ( http://www.bl. uk/onl incgallery/virtualbooks/indcx.html ). The soon-toopen Museum ol"thc llistory oi"Polish Jews in Warsaw will have a virtual shtetl and usc three-dimensional technologies to evoke the lost liiCstyle ol"ninctccnthccntury Jews (http://www.jcwishmuseum.org.pl/). All ol" these projects create cultural representations that arc radically new and different !"rom previous representational strategies. I hm ever, none ol" them draws attention to the history and particularity ol" digital l(mn and its role in cultural representation. 3. The conkrcncc proceedings arc published and archived each year: http://\\ ww. arch im use.com/con ICrcnces/mw. html. 4. Sec, I(Jr instance. the digital re-creation ol" Barnum's museum, which \\as destroyed by lire in I X65 in the Lost Museum project (http://lostmuseum.cuny. edu/), or the interventions ol" Art Mob--creating unollicial podcasts I(Jr New York's M uscum of Modern Art (http:/ /mod. hlogs.com/art_mohs/). 5. Digital repatriation may refer to projects that share digital resources or return historic collections in digitalli.mn. More critical discussion is required with rei~ crcncc to the complex evaluation and politics of repatriation and its diverse cultures in diflcrcnt places. For a more nuanced discussion, see Bell (2003) on the implications and clkcts ol" the circulation of historic photographic collections and sec Geismar (2005, 2009a, 200%, 20 I 0) and Geismar and Hcrle (20 I 0). 6. The Pitt Rivers Museum's project. Rethinking Pitt Rivers. analyses the collector as a centralizing l"orcc within complex networks that drew together objects. inli.mnation and the nascent discipline of anthropology (http://weh.prm.ox.ac. uk/rpr/). 7. Sec http:! /steve .muscumii ndex. php' 1optioncom_content& task -blogscction& idc(J&ltcmid -15. X. Sec, li.1r example, http://tagger.stevc.nHiscum/. and http://objcctwiki.scicnccmu scum.org.uk/wiki/llomc. In 2006. the Powerhouse Museum launched OPAC 2 (Open Public Access to ( 'ollections: http://www.powerhouscmuseum.com/ collection/database/), an online public-access catalogue aimed at making the museum's collection more usable through Google-cnablcd initiatives and, through a sustained research project, Rcconccptualizing Heritage Collections. 1.

9.

I 0.

11.

12.

13.

14. 15.

16. I 7.

evaluated the use and utility ol" this initiati\c (sec Camnon and !'vkngkr 2009 and http :1;,, \\ \\. po\\ crhouscm uscum. com d 111 shI og imkx. php catcgnr) I(Jiksonomics !"or some museum commentary on this). Sec. fnr example. http: \\,,.,,.brook Iynm uscum.orgi ex hi hit ions. c Iic k . The latest project of the Stc\C team is a collaboration\\ ith the llni\ nsity of Maryland and the Indianapolis Museum ofi\rt. Called T_\ (text terms trust). the project 'combines text mining. social tagging and trust inkrcncing techniques to enrich the metadata and personalize ret ric\ al' ( h!!p: 'stc\ L'.museum indc.x. php' 1option--com content&task hlogsection&id l&ltcmid 2). Another project that rethinks and indigcnizcs the commons can be ti.n111d in the Reciprocal Research Net\\ ork ( http: \\''\I .nwa.ubc.ca R RN about (l\ en ic11. html). an internationalnct\\ork that aims to unite communities rrom the north\\TSl coast or Canada to museums and other repositories all around the'' orld. Managed out orthc University or British Columbia's Museum or.\nthropology. the network has developed a digital platl(mn that links catalogue inti.mnation and collections databases lrom all orthc partner institutions to communitiL'S \Ja research hubs. to 1\ hich access must be gained b) collaboration and partnership. The network allm\s li.lr discussion. comment. critique and inti.mnation sharing in a sate and sensiti1c way, utili/ing the digital to create a dirrcrent kind or openness--not a public. hut a more restricted comnHinity that 11 ould not normally he able to access the collections in situ (sec Phillips 2011 ). I was unable to acquire screen grabs I(Jr many nr these digital projects that arc or high enough resolution to print and hope that interested readers 1\ ill seck out the images to accompany these texts on the sites cited in the discussion. In the exhibition, 3X9 photographs \\ere submitted. and 3-+-+ l'\ aluators cast 41 O,OX9 evaluations. On a\crage. each evaluator looked at 1.~5 11 orks. The top 20 per cent or ranked images were displayed in the tina I exhibition ( h!!p: 1\1\\\. brook lynmuscum.org/cxhi bitions/c Iickiqu ick racts. php ). Sec Kc1 in Stayton. h!!p:h\ 11 \I. brook lynmuscum.org cnmmunit y 'blogosphcrc 200~/07 /23/crowd-curatcd-or-cnmd-juried,. Sec Elizabeth Pm inclli. Digital Futures project. h!!p: \ cctnrs.usc.cdu projects index. php' 1projcct-90&thrcad- Project( 'red its. See the highly contentious Digital 1-:conomy Act or 20 I 0. '' hich aims to crack down on peer-to-peer tile sharing and 11 hich ad\ ocatcs the ability li.lr Internet access to he denied to tile-sharing perpetrators. Sec also the cont1ict. .lny1\ ar. hct\\een artist Joy Ciarnctt and Magnum photojournalist Susan Meise las m cr Ciarnc!l \ appropriation. li01n the Intcrnct. or Mcisclas 's photo or a Sandanista. the subsequent legal hallie (which ( iarnctt lost) and continued reproduction h) artist acti\ists or the image. The entire debate is sun eyed and commented on at http://\\\\\\. ti rst pulscproj ccts.com/j oywar. ht mi. Sec http://w1\ \\.mukurtuarchivc.org'. Sec http: 1;wv1 ''.' cctorsjournal.org 1issucsl3 1d igitaldynam ics .

284 !Jigital A nthmpologr


I X.

\11/.ICI!In

l)igital

' 285

Ramcsh Srinivasan comments: The growing excitement around ethnography relates to the increased understanding (linally) that visuali/ations may provide e:-.planation but embedded vv ithin each visualinttion is a certain ontological rerspective around hovv that information is to be counted. mapped. and coded. and thus v isuali/ed' lnstc:ad ethnography vv hieh starts with raw. unbridled observations. and attempt> to be explicit about the bias or theresearcher and rresent as much inl(mnation as possible from the ground-up. can be seen as more resrectful and at least at first puts bias aside to present data in less structured l(mns. (http://rameshsrinivasan.org;20 I Oi 12 1 2~/code-and-culturc ) Srinivasan\ work aims to dcvclors what he terms 'fluid ontologies and alternative raradigms in the dcvclormcnt of sotiwarc tools for community archiving and other digital rrojccts.

Cameron, F.. and S. Mcnglcr. 2009. Complexity. Transdisciplinarit~ and i\luscum Collections Documentation: Lmcrgcnt Metaphors for a Cumplc:\ World . .!oumul of,\1atcriol ( 'ulturc 14: I X9 -21 X. Christen. K. 2005. Gone Digital: Aboriginal Remix and the Cultural Commons. lntemational Joumol oj'( 'ulturoll'mpcrlr 12: 315. Christen, K. 2006. Ara lritija: Protecting the Past. Accessing the Future Indigenous Memories in a Digital Age . .\lusczmz .lnthm1)()logr 29: 59 60. Christen. K. 20 II. Opening Archiv cs: Rcspcctl'ul Repatriation . . l11zcrican .In lziri.1t 74: IX5 210. Christie. M. 2005. Words. Ontologies and Aboriginal Databases . .\lcdiu lntemational Australia: Digitul.1ntlzmpolngr 116: 52 (L'l. Conn. S. 2010. /)o .tluscumv Still .\'ecd Ohfci'/.1:' Philadelphia: University of Pcnnsylv ani a Press. Deger. J. 2006. Shimmering ,\'crccns: .\laking .\fcdia in on :lhoriginul ( oll/11/llnir\ Minneapolis: University or Minnesota Press. Field. L. W. 200X . .-lhalonc Ti.dcs: ( 'olluhorutitc I:Orl'loratiom n( Smcrcigntr and ldentitr in Sa!ii'C Califimzia. Durham. NC: Duke University Press. Frey. B.S .. and B. Kirschcnblatt-Ciimblctl. 2002. The Current Debate: The Dcmateriali/ation of Culture and the Dc-acccssioning of Museum Collections . .\I111CUIII lntcnw! ionul 54( 4 ): 5X (,3. Geismar. I f. Forthcoming. heal/Ired l'n.1.1C.1.1ions: ( 'zdture. l'ro;wrtr und lndigcncitr in the l'acijic. Durham. NC: Duke LJ niv crsity Press. Geismar. I f. 2005. Footsteps on Malakula: A Report on a Photographic Research Project. .lou mol ofA!uscznn Ftlznngraeln 17: I 9 I 207. Geismar. H. 2006. Malakula: A Photographic Collection. ( 'uml)(li'Utitc Studic.1 in Societr and 1/istorr 4X: 520 63. Geismar, H. 200X. Cultural Property. Museums. and the l'acilic: Rctiaming the DLbatcs. lntcnwtional Joumal o(( 'ulturall'mlwrtr 15: I 09. Geismar, H. 2009a. The Photograph and the Malanggan: Rethinking Images on 1\lalakula. Vanuatu . . 1ustralion.Joumal o/.1ntlzmi)(J/ogr 20: 4X 73. Geismar. II. 2009b. Stone Men of Malckula on Vlalakula: An 1-:thnography or an 1-:thnography. L'thnos: Joumol n(:!ntlzm;)()logr 74: 199. Geismar, I f. 20 I 0. Rcvicv\ of !Jo JfniCIIII/.1 ,\,'ti/1.\'ccd Ohject.1 :' by S. Conn. 4 !\larch. http: I I ww v\ .mat cri a Iv\ or Idb il )g. Cl )Ill. Geismar. I f.. and A. Hcrlc. 20 I 0. ,\/ming Images: Jolzn Lnwd 1'/zutogm;,ht and Ficldl\m-k on .\!alokula.lincc Nf.f. llonolulu: Universit; ofHavvaii Press. Geismar. H .. and W. Mohns. 20 II. Database Relations: Rethinking the Database in the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and National Museum. Jozmzul o(t!w Rural Antlzmpologicallnstitutc 17(s I): S 12() 4X. (jeismar. H.. and C. Tilley. 2003. Negotiating Materiality: International and Local Museum Practices at the Vanuatu Cultural Centre and Nationall\luscum. Oceania 73(3): I 70 XX.

19. This is a common rhilosorhy behind many different objects in the Pacific. notably Malanggan: sec Geismar (2009a) and Bell and Geismar (2009).

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f)igitul (iuming, Ciwnc /)csign and 1!.1 l'rccunor.1 289

~14~

presumed lack of stakes in play\\ as rdketed in its relati\ ely meager treatment in the anthropological literature. dwarfed in scale by treatments of\lork. Around the same time. howe\ er. there \\as a diseipl ine-slwking ans\\ er to all materialist treatments of culture. iu the form of the
\I

ritin_L'.s oiTiillord (ieert/. (ieert/s

Digital Gaming, Game Design and Its Precursors


Thomas M. Malaby

Weberian-inllucnced approach treated meaning-making as somL'thing otiJLT than L'piphenomenal. Strikingly I(Jr the subjeet at hand. one of his essa:;. s. and perhaps the one most
\I

ell kmm n beyond anthropology. was about a game and about

pia~:

'Deep

Play: Notes on a Balinese Cockfight' (reprinted in (ieerl/ 1997). In the essay. (icert/ imbued the occasion or a cockfight \1 ith the highest stakes or all that or a culture's meaning in a grand sense: the cockfight becomes the portrait of the Balinese culture that it paints for itself'. But these grand stakes coc~ist \lith a ~trange blunting of more
pro~imate

consequences. and with an

e~plicit

rcjeetion of the contingency of games


respcct~in

With the arri\ al and cxpansi\cncss or digital gaming a

Ill:\\

contingent or anthro-

as at all relevant for our understanding or them. i\s (icert;: \Hole ( Jl)l)7: -UJ): 'Much more is at stake than material gain: namely. esteem. honor. dignity. a word. though in Bali a profoundly lieighted \lord. status. It is at stake symbnlieally. for (a few cases or ruined addict gamblers aside) no one's status is actually altered by the outcome or a cockfight.. In his /eal to trump \1 hatever material stakes \\ere in play
\I

pologists has appeared. giving fresh attention both at the general level to the cultural form of'thc game itsclfand specifically to the way the situated practices of gaming trouble our understandings of governance, institutions. immersion, creativity and other issues. This new anthropological work is pushing productively against treatments of gaming that tend to gd caught up in their own normative positions on gaming as positive or negative (a problem that bcde\ ils treatments or the digital more generally). It has also gone further to highlight the designed quality of digital gaming experience and the ways in which this material dimension should prompt us to consider the projects or their designers and sponsoring institutions. This work li.irthermorc shows
LIS

ith the stakes of

meaning-making. (ieert/ eliminated fillln consideration an: consequentiality beyond the allirmation of meaning. On this viC\\. games became static appraisals of an unchanging social order. ami an element of games that is\ ita! l(lr any understanding or the ex.periencc or play \laS lost. That element is the distinctive and contri\ cd indeterminacy of games and the \\ay in which. by being contingent in their outcomes. they encapsulate (albeit in this contri1cd bshion) the opcn-cndedness of e\ cryda~ life (sec Malaby 2007). Viewed this \lay, games stand as ha\1ng a po\1crful relationship to human practice and social process. What is more. this allows us to sec how games may be related to a particular mode of c~pericnce. a dispositional stance toward the indeterminate. This is an aspect of e~pcrience !ell out in
f~l\:our
\I

how institutions are beginning to deploy the principles of game

design beyond digital games explicitly presented as such; that is we can see game design at work in arenas such as i\m;uon "s Mechanical Turk, or in new forms of corporate management (see Malaby 200l)a). The opening up of territory l(x inquiry that is the aim of digital anthropology is a project that occurs amidst broader and long-standing anthropological hesitations about high technology and the interactions mediated by it. Compounding this are li.1rther hesitations about the 'studying up' that understanding the digital must also entail. When our focus narrows to digital games. anthropologists encounter an additional hurdle. and that is the rather limited and sporadic treatment or games over the course or our disciplinary history (especially striking when considered against the voluminous and exceptional work on a comparable cultural form. that or ritual: see Malaby 2009b ). i\s such. the notable work on digital games in our discipline const