Coincidence? Maybe

This morning I was revisiting Ethnography for the Internet by Christine Hine in order to make a few notes and write a post before I have to return it to the Library. After a couple of hours it was time for a run, so I grabbed my mp3 player and had a quick scan through a few of the podcasts I recently added. Since I’d not listened to any of the Digital Human podcasts by Aleks Krotowski for a while, I thought I’d check them out; I’d just added the whole of Series 7. I just clicked ‘play’ from  the first in the list and set off on my jaunt.

flickr photo by beatplusmelody shared under a Creative Commons (BY-NC) license

A ten mile run takes me a while these days, so I easily reached the third clip long before I got back. It was called ‘Rear Window‘ and was about people watching. I perked up since the Alex was taking an anthropological or ethnological perspective and thought it might be quite pertinent to my studies. It was. Alex interviewed (all too briefly unfortunately) none other than Christine Hine, about people watching online; the places you might visit and what some of the implications are when compared with the offline (which had occupied most of the rest of the episode). The brevity of the clips Christine featured in meant I didn’t learn much that was new … except I now had a voice to accompany the texts I’ve read and the image from her University website. I write this (hopefully!) not from a creepy perspective, but in the sense that with each new information stream you access, you start to build up a better impression of a person if they are merely mediated through the online world. Hardly a ground-breaking insight I know, but it was interesting to consider some of the cases outlined in the programme; a street photographer, a voyeuristic author, a blogger who posts what he sees) all of whom added their own back stories to the people they viewed. Essentially they created characters. Now juxtapose that with what I’ll be attempting to do. Aiming for a meaningful interpretation of what I’m seeing; my version of reality, as opposed to the fictional, artificial accounts created by the storytellers. But in a sense, I too will be wanting to tell a story; the story that emerges from the data I capture. There’s a whole continuum between fact and fiction.

The coincidence? My podcast ‘library’ is built mainly from streams where technology, learning and education intersect, with an odd few like the Digital Human, that are loosely linked. I could have chosen any podcast from the fifty or so currently on my mp3 player. I had no idea what topics might come up in the Digital Human, and yet an author whose book on a topic unrelated to anything I’d normally listen to is talking about what I’d been reading barely an hour ago. I’m going to take it as a sign.


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