Abstract: Cyber ethnography is the use of the Internet as a field research tool by anthropologists, sociologists, and corporate researchers, especially those that conduct their research to analyze how data can be used in field studies or to analyze social phenomena or issues.
Cyber ethnography is a way of conducting ethnographic fieldwork grounded in Internet and online studies. It includes ethnographies based on conventional field research techniques but incorporates some analysis and prediction of how the data will be used.
The use of data on the Internet can be considered a specific type of fieldwork that is regarded as cyber ethnography. An essential aspect of the method is that online social networks support research. These have the same characteristics as a conventional social network that one can use to gather data. Online, researchers have access to the same network infrastructure that other members of the network use and can discover significant patterns of community interaction that conventional researchers would have difficulty obtaining using traditional modes of data collection.
The Advantages of Cyber Ethnography
The advantages of cyber ethnography are many. Firstly, it is accessible to scholars in developing countries that have no or few libraries. Cyber ethnography allows researchers to find such information as chats on Facebook, shared photos, and discussions in online forums. Research is less expensive than traditional fieldwork, so research on large-scale phenomena or sociological questions that are not well understood can be undertaken and perhaps avoided.
As a relatively new field, cyber ethnography has no set criteria for utilizing it. This means that researchers can develop and adapt their methods in unique ways.
Cyber ethnography often uses techniques and means of analysis familiar to anthropologists. Sometimes, however, researchers can consider how a user’s voice and personal computer-based activities can be used to structure research. Also, some methods that one might consider non-anthropological, such as search engines and automated content analysis, can be viewed in the context of cyber ethnography.
To conclude, the cyber-ethnographic methodology has a lot to offer the fields in which it is being used. It can help researchers, practitioners, and others better understand a new phenomenon. Additionally, it provides a broad array of techniques and procedures that can be incorporated into other forms of research such as ethnography, sociology, organizational anthropology, political science, and behavioral science. If used correctly, cyber ethnography can act as a powerful means of shaping how research is done.