The End of the Virtual: Digital Methods
Annotation. Digital methods may be contrasted with what has come to be known as virtual methods, a currently dominant approach to the study of the Internet. Virtual methods, rooted in the U.K. Virtual Society? program (1997-2002), sought to ground cyberspace by demonstrating how it was hardly a realm apart. Whereas virtual methods have made great strides, they rely on methods imported from the humanities and the social sciences. Do the methods have to change, owing to the specificity of the medium and its objects? With the end of the virtual, I propose that Internet research may be put to new uses, given an emphasis on natively digital as opposed to digitized methods. How to capture and analyze hyperlinks, tags, search engine results, archived websites, and other digital objects? What may one learn from how online devices make use of the objects, and how may such uses be repurposed for social and cultural research? Ultimately, I propose a research practice that grounds claims about cultural change and societal conditions in online dynamics. This title can be previewed in Google Books - http://books.google.com/books?vid=ISBN9789056295936.
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