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Virtual Ethnography

Why Am I Interested in Virtual Ethnography?


My Encounter with Virtual Ethnography


I am a social anthropologist by training who is studying community culture. However, since 1999, I have been using the internet since I was a student at IAIN (State Islamic Institute), which has now changed to UIN (StateIslamic University) UIN Sunan Kalijaga in Yogyakarta. At that time, I began to understand what e-mail is, passwords, Mirc, Yahoo Messenger, Hotmail, Yahoo Mail, Friendster, and Facebook.

My data on the internet may have been so much and maybe already stored in Big Data. Because since studying for a master’s at the University of Malaya and a Doctorate at La Trobe University, all systems have started using digital. So, almost half my age (23 years) “make friends” with the internet.

Because of that, I began to understand the culture in everyday life around me in real life and learned to understand life in cyberspace.

My life began in a village that was super far from the city. No electricity. No television. No radio. No newspapers. There is no adequate road access to the town which I passed as a child. Now I see the same phenomenon on Youtube how humans live in places far from technology, but they are present in the virtual world.

The internet has changed the way humans view humans and humanity. Because of that, I became interested in understanding how humans change in cyberspace. Of course, this is a new discipline known perhaps by virtual or digital anthropology. 

That is, anthropology wants to analyze the culture of a digital or virtual society, where perhaps scientific theories from anthropology can be used, to a lesser extent, to adapt to the image of society in cyberspace.

These are some of the reasons I became interested in the study of virtual ethnography. I want to understand how digital society should be understood and present its existence in the real life of our community today. 

The presence of virtual ethnography will help a long way to understand humans, culture, and humanity from the virtual world, which is now the central axis of human existence in a Planetary Civilization.

Therefore, I would like to dedicate an exceptional blog that discusses the study of virtual ethnography. In addition, I also hope that this can also be input for anyone who wants to explore the culture caused by community interactions in cyberspace.

Previously, I already had a particular website: www.kba13.com which presented current studies from the scientific field that I had been working on so far. Readers can visit the website to get my analysis, mini-research results, opinions, and ethnographic notes from various societal events. 

Also Read  The Future of Digital Culture

Besides that, you can refer to some of my scientific publications for almost 25 years on Google Scholar, Sinta, and Academia. The academic work of the quarter-century is indeed more of my understanding from library studies and field research for more than two decades.

Thus, this website only specializes in my study journey about life in cyberspace, written in English. The goal is that readers outside Indonesia can also understand the results of my study.


Doing Virtual Ethnography: A Case Study of Steemit


I am only three weeks on Steemit in 2018. I signed up because I wanted to share some writing experiences. It turns out that several things have been learned while in this community. 

First, there is a connection between people based on power and influence. This is similar to the real world. The higher the reputation, the more significant the impact. His followers will compete to vote. Their posts are sometimes sagacious. Their account page is elegant and professional.

It is a platform that transfers power, wisdom, and influence from social reality to cyberspace. I call it a virtual social phenomenon. The longer we study this virtual social phenomenon, the more interesting it becomes: friendship in steemit as virtual friendship.

 The more followers, the more it shows the person’s presence on Steemit. That is how the kingdom of friendship was built in this congregation.

Third, many posts try to share knowledge for free. I am also in this category. There are hundreds of students and also loyal readers of my works. 

Even though they do not have a steemit account yet, they have started to enjoy my writings almost every day. Therefore, the writings that I post have not been fully edited. I then thought of making these posts as writing savings for further revision and publication into a whole book.

Fourth, steemit has succeeded in building relationships not only in the mind but also in the soul. Because of that, the emotional building is getting stronger, especially to build togetherness for the same. I imagine this steemit community is like a global virtual village without borders. 

A town can connect with society because of a common goal. Therefore, here there are no dislikes because only votes. Information traffic also spreads very quickly through mentioning the names of friends or making tags that can attract the attention of fellow citizens.

The Role of Power of Steemit Membership


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Although there is no constitution yet, I imagine Steemit will become aNew Digital State. After the heyday of Facebook and other platforms had already been born in this virtual world. All problems seem to be solved together. 

I observed several postings of ambassadors, curators, and those with a high reputation. They can mobilize the power of the mind for a common cause.

Maybe those who have just joined will think for themselves so that they get many votes. Nevertheless, this thought will change when Steem Power savings build up. He will be wise and motivate others so as not to be discouraged. 

This pattern is precisely in real life. Those who are victorious will advise those who have not been successful. Hard work and dedication are the main things. Creativity is vital to getting to the top in the Steemit.

How do we create a self-reputation in the tidal wave of information? Regarding reputation, this concept has started to emerge recently. Works on reputation are increasingly in demand. 

People turn information and connections into the capital to create a reputation that leads to revenue accumulation. Therefore, whatever is done in cyberspace will increase or decrease a person’s reputation. 

Finally, through this platform, there will be no more hoax news, insults and insults, and even bringing down each other in the name of ethnic, racial, and religious interests. People who spread data and facts on Steemit will not seek and accept trouble. Because of that, it will damage their image and reputation.

People can monitor their posts at any time. This is triggered by introducing yourself or myself, where someone will show that they are worthy to enter the steemit community and receive kindness from anyone. 

When someone writes introduce yourself, he registers the civilian population to the steemit database center. Because there is no anonymity from introducing yourself, that person dares to mention ME in every post, which is a new form of manifestation of the identity in cyberspace.

In each post, it is recommended to put an image to make it enjoyable. This part of virtual ethnography is becoming increasingly common in cyberspace. There is also a mention of the term cyber-ethnography.

 Studying online communities has taken a set of study models from ethnography in anthropology studies. This method has become a new trend in understanding various phenomena in cyberspace, including my explorations in the Steemit community.

Also Read  Everything you need to know about Virtual Ethnography

Pictures and settings presented by Steemitian always give the impression that there is a meaning or message to be conveyed. The narrative about this image attracts attention to be voted on by the readers. 

Those pious on this platform always display seductive images and exquisite designs. In ethnography, the photos are usually reviewed in detail. This pattern is called a thick description.

The Landscape of Doing Virtual Ethnography


The expansive space of this virtual world will undoubtedly widen the research area. So, we can use this virtual space as a material to develop cyber-ethnography or virtual-ethnography. In this Steemit room, I see a lot of data and facts that can be used to create a virtual ethnography study. 

During three weeks of joining Steemit, I learned how to promote ideas, steal attention, make something difficult to be simple, and do campaigns together.

As an anthropology researcher, this experience will strengthen your insight to keep up with trends and lifestyles in the digital era. So far, I have had to go on field trips to various places to look for data. Sometimes you have to enter the village and leave the town. 

Carry out multiple approaches to the community that is the object of study. However, through virtual ethnography, I do not need to go into people’s villages but instead visit the “new villages” in the Digital Country built by each platform owner.

YouTube taught me about how anything can be known and learned. Google led me to how memory is not so important anymore because we only need to remember keywords. Facebook taught me how to make friends in cyberspace. That is the impression when joining the new-Digital State that is STEEMIT.

I am not an expert in investing in this platform. I Do not know about the power of SP, which is said to give influence and reputation. I do not understand buying and selling, which often appears on my Steemit screen.

In these three weeks, I know I can build a new understanding of what is happening around us. I can learn a lot about what ideas and ideas are. 

Thus, the review of the Future Series when we are in a new country that has just accepted us as its citizens. Of course, many interests will later prove that the need for information has become an essential commodity in this 21st century.

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam Ahmad

Kamaruzzaman Bustamam-Ahmad (KBA) has followed his curiosity throughout life, which has carried him into the fields of Sociology of Anthropology of Religion in Southeast Asia, Islamic Studies, Sufism, Cosmology, and Security, Geostrategy, Terrorism, and Geopolitics. KBA is the author of over 30 books and 50 academic and professional journal articles and book chapters. His academic training is in social anthropology at La Trobe University, Islamic Political Science at the University of Malaya, and Islamic Legal Studies at UIN Sunan Kalijaga Yogyakarta. He received many fellowships: Asian Public Intellectual (The Nippon Foundation), IVLP (American Government), Young Muslim Intellectual (Japan Foundation), and Islamic Studies from Within (Rockefeller Foundation). He is based in Banda Aceh and can be reached at ceninnets@yahoo.com.au

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