It goes without saying that technology-mediated communication is becoming increasingly common as both a locus and a tool for ethnographic research. I find it exciting to observe how writers have responded by producing innovative teaching and learning materials for conducting online research. One recent addition is Online Interviews In Real Time, (2010) by Janet Salmons. What I like about this book is that it provides a very thorough guide for thinking through the process of planning, executing, and reflecting on various types of online interviews — synchronous, asynchronous, with and without camera, one-to-one and one-to-many, interviews using Skype or Skype-like platforms, interviews in immersive environments, etc.
There are a couple of areas in which I’d like to add to the conversation. First, how do we researchers go about preparing (or not preparing) our interviewees for meeting us on the platforms we choose for online interviews? Second, how can we — and how should we — engage more deliberately in the process of choosing platforms for our online contact with research participants? Any platform that we choose (whether as a subject of our studies or a means of studying our subject) will have communication affordances and constraints encoded into it. How can we better reflect on these before, during, and after our research?
What guides do you turn to in thinking through your online research methods?