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(2012) HeatherA. Horst
and Daniel Miller ed.
Anth 205 ONLINE
• Produced under the guidance of
Katy Borner, IUB School of
Library and Information
• Evolution of communication
• Speech, writing, digital media.
• Confronts the dangers and
potential benefits of
What are the risks
and rewards of the
digital cultures as
well as the
people in their
Is your life online
more or less
your analogue life?
does the digital
How has the way
Six Principles of Digital
1. The digital intensifies dialectical nature of culture.
1. From German philosopher, Georg Wilheim Hegel - dialectical thinking
refers to the relationship between simultaneous growth of the universal
and the particular that are interdependent rather than oppositional.
Internet provides us with numerous examples e.g.
2. “Humanity is not one iota more mediated by the rise of the digital” (p. 3).
1. In this case Miller and Horst are using mediated to mean exposed and
influenced by media, Implied in their explanation that predigital or
analogue life is no less “authentic” than digital life.
2. It is simply nostalgia to say analogue life is more authentic.
3. They use the example of medieval Christians influenced by the media of
their time. Instead of websites, Reddit, or FB, they had stain glass,
3. Digital anthropologies is the commitment holism.
4. Reasserts the cultural relativism, which counters the homogeneity of digital
5. Digital cultures are ambiguous regarding limitlessness and unlimitedness,
bordered and bordered.
6. Digital worlds are no more or less material than analogue worlds!
Editors Horst and Miller argue that " all people are equally cultural"
regardless if they are in the face to face world or digital world (p. 12).
Authenticity of digital world is questioned.
Digital worlds are not more or less real than analogue worlds.
Virtual v. real (p.13)
No reason to privilege one over the other.
Disabled people are largely invisible in analogue world and popular
Make up 15 – 20 % world population.
Multivocality and agency
References Amanda Braggs “In My Language” (8 minutes).
Ideas of personhood and norms
Accessibility and design for multiple modalities.
Motives of her research
Raising a child with familial disautonomia
Argues that exposure leads to acceptance
Rethinking traditional kinship models.
“These cases help us see how the capacities of digital media enable
significant interventions in our everyday understandings of what it means to
be human for the estimated 15 to 20 per cent of the world’s population that
lives with disabilities, a category that anyone can join in a heart beat” (p.
New MediaTechnologies in
Everyday Life by HeatherA.
3 motivations to commit to holism (p. 16).
No one lives a completely digital life - all digital needs an
Choice of media – smart phone, PC, tablet, etc.
Horst frames her research using Pierre Bourdieu’s concept
of habitus (patterns of everyday life).
Examines effects of modernization, urbanization,
and globalization on domestic spaces and practices.
Double articulation of technology
Five years researching.
Informants “digital natives”
Three case studies from SiliconeValley
A family with two sons whose mother rearranges their public space to monitor technology.
Spatial arrangement/negotiation of new media in the home
A family with two daughters that take ownership of their own space and negotiate their own
Notions of the self, coming of age, and privacy.
A high school senior with a vibrant online life (Fandom) that does not mix with the analogue.
Role of media consumer producing material traditionally associated with producers and
Findings: New Media signals a return focus on the home.
Taking digital ethnographies seriously does not mean privileging one space (analogue)
over the other (digital), rather necessary to understand how the spaces come together.
Focusing on the mundane reflects the importance of how media practices emerge and
change over time.
Valuing the emic perspective
Technology’s cultural relativism
• VOICE ANDTHE PRINCIPLEOF RELATIVSM:
• Debate and representation of digital is derived from the Imagination of scifi and
modernism that predicts a homogenized global world, without expression or
cultural uniqueness (p. 18-19).
• The Internet is always a local invention by its users.
• “Social Networking Sites” by Daniel Miller
• Trinidad & Philippines
• Liming – which refers to hanging out on a corner is a wayTrinis indigenize
• Shows the importance of connecting migrants and family back home.
• Showing how Facebook is changed by users, vice versa.
• SNS enable Filipino mothers and their left behind children to maintain
• Allows for increased surveillance, but sometimes leads to broken hearts.
• Separating SNS depending on network wishing to maintain ties with.
E-waste - the exploitation of raw materials,
dumping of e-waste, exploitative employment,
racist stereotypes in role-playing games, digital
E-waste follows global and political economy -
Downloads - lessen material
waste. videoconferencing save on gas, lessens
Design imposes ideology.
Digital privileges North America and Europe leading
to English hegemony, and cultural dominance.
Ultimately many digital anthropology studies used
to legitimize corporate interests.
AMBIVALENCEANDTHE PRINCIPLE OF
Allows for authenticity.
A Rape in Cyber space - explores earlier virtual
worlds where users create avatars in an imagined
gentler world than the analogue.
Avatars taken over to engage in
unspeakable sexual practices with selves
Victims felt violated, began to see
cyberspace as a threat, seeking equivalent
of cyberpolice to address violation of online
selves (p. 21).
Traditional divisions between consumer and producers break
down as creativity of consumers incorporated into the design
of product for purchase.
Digital facilities encourage consumers’ creativity: blogs, FB,
Producers deliberately delegate creative work to consumers
and designers must follow trends of created consumption.
Online feedback culture:TripAdviser, RottenTomatoes…
The digital is dialectical.
Main impact of digital has been to make these contradictions
more explicit or expose contextual issues of power and political
• Impossible to be humans without artefacts (24).
• Artefacts do more than express human intention, they
also allow humans to act in the world. Material is also
present in the digital world. This relates to the 6th
principle in the book.
• Material of infrastructure
• Analysis of hard disk, ephemerality v. forensic nature it is hard
to erase data.
• “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 which we
become almost violently aware of such background mechanics
only when they break down and fail us” (p. 25).
• Computers material environment built and engineered to
propagate the illusion of immateriality.
Norm. Digital technology shifting our perceptions of time.
Investigate how different technologies require our attention at
Mobile phones immediate
IMs, FB less attention, email depending on sender.
Astonishing speed at which technology innovations are taken
When it breaks down we feel we have lost a human right or a
Speed at which people learn the rules.There may be a short moment of
uncertainty. Users help educate each other.
Kayapo video appropriating challenged the idea that tribal people are intrinsically
slow or passive or what Levi-Strauss called cold cultures (29).
The faster the trajectory of cultural change the more relevant the anthropologist
because there is absolutely no sign that the changes in technology are
outstripping the capacity to regard things as normative (30).
Boellstroff argues that the virtual and actual are not separate. Rather they are
Boellstorff cites Malinowski’s classic ethnography Argonauts of theWestern Pacific “the
essential core of social anthropology is fieldwork” (p. 42).
Describes an ethnographic moment – participant observation of Becca, Richard, Susan learning
Communication, ways of doing things.
Replicating gender norms in cyberspace
Digital anthropology is more than studying things you plug into.
Ethnography is a product not a method and takes a long time
Is flexible but not boundless.
Participant observation core of anthropology.
Interviews let people think about what they do or will do.
Shows the difference between what people say and what they do.
Provide insight into practices as they unfold.
Time is necessary for digital anthropology
Imagination required to understand the “consequences might be for social inquiry” (p. 57).
Digital location not
death of space rather
The virtual is a new
type of space.
Paradox of digital:
creates problems and
apprehension is to
refuse to allow the
digital to be viewed
as a gimmick or, as a
All anthropology is
because research is
and technology is
Notes de l'éditeur
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DEOvBgyQoyg How does this “Humanexus” video relate to the edited volume we have been reading Digital Anthropology?
The digital is defined by Miller and Horst (2014, p. 3) as everything that has been developed by, or can be reduced to, the binary-- that is bits consisting of 0s and 1s.
Nationalism and ethnicity developed under through changes in media by which culture circulates. They cite Christians in medieval Europe being subjected to or objectified in countless media and their intertextuality. Media would have been buildings, writings, clothing accessories. Catholics - heavily mediated v. Protestants - rejected the materiality of Catholics (13). Today humans are mediated through digital. Ironically, Protestants now use digital media to proselytize.
“Real” - regarded as colloquial NOT epistemological (p. 15).
Digital giving voices, a person can be present but not necessarily seen (p. 26).
Coleman argues all conventional anthropology has a digital inflection (16). Anthropology and ethnography are more than method. Online worlds have own integrity and own intertextuality (18). Impact of digital is expansion of involvement but is still for most people contained in familiar points of participation. Cultural relativism at the heart of anthropology. Closely connected to holism (18). Bourdieu showed us a major part of what makes us human is what he called practice or habitus.