Tuesday, March 24, 2009

"I thought you'd blog more in the field..."

Was what one of my friends quipped to me over lunch last week. This was regarding the level of blogging whilst doing my dissertation fieldwork in Korea. Believe you me, I was at times somewhat disconcerted that I wasn't revealing something interesting every day, or that I wasn't one of those journalistic sites for the 'latest and greatest from Korea' as it were.

Then I thought to myself, well that's not what I have been using this blog for, even before I left for the field. These issues have been bandied about by those in my circle but I will rehash them here: that the blog has transformed for its -purpose- in one's media ecology in light of recent innovations such as Facebook, Twitter, etc. The latter two I use more for stream-of-consciousness type-things... and those of you who followed me while I was actually there know that. Both require membership/authorization to some degree, while the blog is a very public site. This is going to change the dynamics of my use, and it did. So, that was the medium question.

As for other reasons, as anthropologists commonly talk about, "anthropologists were notoriously private when it came to talking about their field experience." Here is a great post, complete with lots of yummy links attesting to that from Rex at Savage Minds. I would add my own story to the entry, in that when you're in the field:
  • There is simply too much going on in your head, the field, others, etc to really blog anything of worth. Certainly not every day. After all, is what you're observing in the culture really what you make of it? Enough to be confident in your re-presentation (that same day)? Probably not.
  • The field is an emotional roller coaster. You are not at -home-, nor are you anywhere you can really escape so whatever is blogged would likely be pretty ugly or something you regret later. Honestly, there are moments of levity, and there are some dark, dark times. Ask anyone who has done this type of physically/intellectually/emotionally (not to mention financially!) invested ethnographic fieldwork. Things not fit for public consumption on a blog on the fly, imho. Perhaps twitter/fb where one is relatively sure of who may be reading it and relatively confident about context.
  • Confidentiality concerns. There tends to be so much one does off the record that it takes time to form coherent narratives that do not violate the trust of one's informants. That is (and was) a high priority for me. So yes, the gems are being excavated... and they must be analyzed and polished to be anything one is proud of.
Anyboos, my surface parcel of worldly possessions just arrived for me in the mail from Korea. 4 weeks from Seoul to Vancouver. Not bad eh?

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