My blog posts have been all-Hine-all-the-time this week, but I can’t help it. She inspires me!
Back to the spaces and places debate. Hine points out, rightly by how I see things, that “We can usefully think of the ethnography of mediated interaction as mobile rather than multi-sited” (p 64) and:
By focusing on sites, locales and places, we may be missing out on other ways of understanding culture, based on connection, difference, heterogeneity and incoherence. We miss out on the opportunity to conisider the role of space in structuring social relations (Thrift, 1996a). Castells (1996a; 1996b; 1997) introduces the idea that a new form of space of flows, which in contrast to the space of place, information, money, circulate between nodes which form a network of associations increasingly independent of specific local contexts. ” (p 61)
This really got my brain ticking. Lorcan Dempsey and the need to get in the user’s flow immediately jumped to mind. I want to know what the flow of information seeking is like in Second Life, not just particular, isolative behaviors. A socially bounded, place-space framework may very well cut off the ability to see any parts of the flow of the users, much less experience a taste of it myself. The cyberpunk novel Snowcrash then jumped to my mind, with the notion of a non-place that is, at the same time, is all around us. Stephenson’s concept of metaverse is what suppossedly inspired SL in the first place. And getting away from the specifics of information seeking or librarianship, these ideas are bound to broader concepts of globalization.
I do believe that I am embarking on what Hine calls a “connective ethnography” (p 62).