This week we’ll discuss methods for studying infrastructures; learn more about “The People’s Internet,” the current New School grant-funded ethnographic research alongside community network development in Clear Fork, TN, and Kingston, NY; and consider how network ethnography can be guided by systematic evaluation of progress toward community-defined goals in people-led network projects — or, in some cases, can reveal unintended consequences.
Guests: Ever Bussey, Master’s Student in the School of Media Studies and Research Associate; Erica Kermani, Parsons Faculty and co-lead, Radical Networks: “The People’s Internet.”
To be reviewed before class:
- Network Ethnographies:
- Christina Dunbar Hester, “‘Producing ‘Participation’? The Pleasures and Perils of Technical Engagement in Radio Activism,” Public Culture 26:1 (2013): 25-50.
- Optional: Alison Powell, “WiFi Publics: Producing Community and Technology,” Information, Communication & Society 11:8 (2008): 1068-88.
- Interactive, Non-Human Network Ethnography: Skim through Nicole Starosielski, Surfacing.
- Current work on The People’s Internet: participatory research in the building process:
- Greta Byrum and Ever Bussey, “Community Networking for Healing and Power in Central Appalachia,” Global Media Technologies & Cultures Lab (November 11, 2019).
- Slides on baseline report & current network buildout status — to come.
- Program Evaluation Using Participatory Methods: One of the primary outcomes of the grant-funded research project The People’s Internet is to propose a framework for “impact analysis” of community networks — to demonstrate that the network intervention has made a desired impact, that it’s aligned with community-defined goals. How can we know if this is the case?
- Gene Shackman, “What is Program Evaluation? A Beginner’s Guide,” SSRN (February 11, 2018): 46pp.
- Rachel Pain, Geoff Whitman, and David Milledge, “Participatory Action Research Toolkit: An Introduction to Using PAR as an Approach to Learning, Research, and Action,” Durham University and Lune River Trust (2017): 8pp.
- Post a reading response if you’ve signed up to do so?
- * Jenna Burell, “The Fieldsite as a Network: A Strategy for Locating Ethnographic Research,” in Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Anne Galloway, and Genevieve Bell, eds., The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography (Routledge, 2016): 10 pp.
- Marcus Foth, “Network Action Research,” Action Research 4:2 (2006): 205-26.
- Leon Tinashe Gwaka, Julian May, and William Tucker, “Towards Low-Cost Community Networks in Rural Communities: The Impact of Context Using the Case Study of Beitbridge, Zimbabwe,” The Electronic Journal of Information Systems in Developing Countries 84:3 (May 2018).
- Keith Hampton, Oren Livio, and Lauren Sessions, “The Social Life of Wireless Urban Spaces: Internet Use, Social Networks, and the Public Realm,” Journal of Communication 60:4 (2010: 701-22.
- Christina Haralanova, “Enmeshed Lives? Examining the Limits of Autonomy and Ideology in the Provision of Wireless Infrastructure. An Ethnographic Study of the Réseu Libre Mesh Network” [unpublished paper].
- Christina Dunbar-Hester, Low Power to the People: Pirates, Protest, and Politics in FM Radio Activism (MIT Press, 2014) — especially “Research Activities, Methods, Position,” pp. xviii-xxv, for more on Hester’s ethnographic method.
- “Interviews of Activists from Sarantaporo.gr,” Heteropolitics (February 7, 2019) + other blog posts.
- * Kat Jungnickel, “Making ‘Ournet Not the Internet’: An Ethnography of Home-Brew High-Tech Practices in Suburban Australia,” in Larissa Hjorth, Heather Horst, Anne Galloway, and Genevieve Bell, eds., The Routledge Companion to Digital Ethnography (Routledge, 2016): 9 pp.
- Becky Kazansky, “The Techno-Utopian Dream of Mesh Networks: A Critical Genealogy” (January 23, 2013).