Again, my apologies for the late posting of this.
Week 6 has seen me ploughing into my chosen subject matter for a virtual ethnography – the 9/11 conspiracy theories. As previously stated, my objective here is not to determine whether the 9/11 conspiracy theories are ‘true’ or not, but rather to determine how members of that community determine ‘truth’ themselves.
This is proving a great deal trickier than I thought. Very simply, the size of the of the field site is enormous. Bearing in mind the short amount of time for this, I’ve had to pare back my ambitions for this quite a bit.
The discussion forums (my first port of call) are numerous, sprawling and really quite difficult to focus on. I’m not averse to the idea of studying a fora, but looking for the ‘winks’ which Geertz describes (in order to carry out ‘thick descriptions’) is proving much, much trickier than I thought.
So, I’ve decided to focus on the 9/11 conspiracy theory movies. There’s a plethora of them out there and, in point of fact, they are the seminal element in the birth of the 9/11 Truth movement. I know that an online movie doesn’t quite fit the classic definition of a ‘field site’ and that seeing these movies as a community might be open to challenges, but for me they are the kernel at the heart of the nut: generating debate, modelling behaviour and narrative structures, informing use of language, metaphor – in a sense acting as the ‘totems’ at the heart of the community (to borrow from Durkheim: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Totemism#Totemism) – a place to gather, get energised, seek connections and like-minded souls.
My lifestream for week 6 is reflective of this shift in focus with more links to the movies themselves and the numerous sites, debunking, rebunking and re-debunking.
In terms of how I am framing this, this quote from Hine is central:
Ethnography in this strategy becomes as much a process of following connections as it is period of inhabitance. In similar vein Marcus suggests that ethnography could (should?) be adapted to ‘examine the circulation of cultutal meanings, objetcs and identities in diffuse time-space’. He suggests a range of strategies for ethnographers to construct fields in the absence of bounded sites, including the following of people, things, metaphors, narratives, biographies and conflict
- Hine, C (2000) The virtual objects of ethnography, chapter 3 of Virtual ethnography. London: Sage. pp41-66
In particular it’s that notion of ‘following people, things, metaphors, narratives, biographies and conflict’ that resonated. In these 9/11 movies certain narratives get repeated again and again – the collapse/’demolition’ of WTC 7, the ideas of black ops propaganda, the details about the structural flaws in the towers and so on. I’m intending to pick out about three or four of these and track them across the various movies and the blogs that cascade out from them…