Accepted Paper:

Living Digital Futures: Possibilities for Co-presence and Collaboration in Online Video Ethnography  
Kari Dahlgren (Monash University) Yolande Strengers (Monash University) Larissa Nicholls (Monash University) Rex Martin (Monash University) Sarah Pink (Monash University)

Paper short abstract:

This paper describes the collaborative potential of videoconferencing, participant video recording, and related insights on digitally mediated co-presence that came out of online ethnographic research on the impact of emerging technologies on domestic practices in Australia.

Paper long abstract:

This paper discusses an ongoing ethnographic research project which explores how emerging technologies are changing digital-enabled lifestyles across a number of social practice domains in the Australian home, including working, studying and collaboration, entertainment, comfort and care, housekeeping, transport, and energy-related practices involving emerging technologies, platforms and services. Many of these aspects of life, and the role of digital technologies in mediating them, have altered significantly during the COVID-19 pandemic, including the possibilities for participating in and conducting ethnographic research. In order to accommodate the requirements of physical distancing restrictions, we adapted our research methods by replacing face to face ethnography and home tours with video conferencing calls, participant led virtual home tours on smartphones and tablets, and participant recorded videos of household routines. In this paper, we reflect on these methods, the forms of co-presence they created, and especially highlight the potential that emerged as participants were given control of the camera and webcam, and thus influence on the ethnographer's gaze. This created a more collaborative process, while also providing additional insights, such as how participants managed the virtual presence of researchers in their homes. These methods served not only to allow us to continue our research in a time of crisis, but reveal how this crisis has mediated--and been mediated by--emerging digital technologies, and may shape future possibilities for households as well as ethnographic methodologies.

Panel P02b
Crisis, creativity and ethics: reflexive practices and critical engagements with "others" in times of uncertainty
  Session 1