Downplaying this sentence as much as possible, let me declare that this is my first posting to this site. I’d like to avoid the importance and pressure of what these words — this post, this page — point to; especially as time goes on. When I activated this WordPress blog, the site template displayed WP’s stock phrase “The Best Blog Ever!” No thank you. I can do without the pressure. I find it hard enough to recount what I did in the past week when chatting with my own mother. We’ve all gotta’ start somewhere.
I am taking a class at Arizona State University this semester (spring 2013): Technologies of Writing, Online Ethnography (ENG 553). It’s not blowing my mind as much as bending it; pulling it, really, like taffy. I’m finding it challenging in a surprising way, this topic. It is presenting me with a quality of abstraction that is thick and murky and rapid. I’m at a loss. What flavor is red? How warm is sad? Who exactly is yesterday? I am at once reminded of Alice falling down the rabbit hole and Dorothy on her wild ride up the cyclone. I am moving through new “landscapes,” in unexpected directions and I’m being exposed to and pummeled by so much — so much that is familiar and at the same time doesn’t make sense to me. I can’t speak for my classmates; they are having their own experience. This fun mashup of “down the rabbit hole” illustrates that each of us — all of us Alices — have our own experience of the fall. But this chunk of the internet is my attempt at, my space for, dropping anchor in this investigation into netnography and what it means to me in the so-called “real world.” To put a twist on a notable quote by Kahlil Gibran , this site is my work made visible.
In simple and concrete terms, my classmates and I are exploring digital spaces . This is intellectually challenging for me because, while my life is heavily mediated by technology and the internet, I do not view myself as actually living in online spaces. Now that I am four weeks into this course, ideas and concepts are beginning to come together, enough for me to find a true starting point. I am open to discover where this will lead. That said, I am reminded of this great line from The Princess Bride in which the hero recounts how he came to be in the service of the Dread Pirate Roberts and, eventually, came to replace him. Each night, the Dread Pirate Roberts would say: “Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.” The point then is this: Netnography and the Hood may end up becoming the best blog ever but for now “I’m in it” for only the next three months. I’ll most likely kill it in the summer.
One final note; one final reference — this time to one of my favorite films, Groundhog Day. In this film Bill Murray portrays a man who is forced to relive the same day, over and over again, until he has become whole and refined. This is my way of saying that I reserve the right to go back in and edit, revise, and modify any of the content on this site, until I get it right. What you read on this site may not be — particularly on the pages as opposed to the posts — reflective of content that was rendered complete the first time around. More likely, it is the product of many weeks of revision and tinkering.
 Course description (from syllabus): “What is online ethnography, and why is it a useful tool for contemporary academic researchers? What unique challenges do online ethnographers face, and how do they seek and find help conducting this kind of research? This course introduces students to a range of ethnographic research methods and theories, focusing specifically on how such work is carried out in online spaces. The class will explore topics of public and private information; data protection and retrieval; entree and participation in online groups; online identity performance techniques and measures; social network design and iteration; and the importance of understanding internet inquiry from both users’ and designers’ perspectives.”