The project was located
within ethnographic methodological work, and sought to consider
the role of the digital in data generation, analysis, argumentation
and representation. The project was located within ongoing
methodological debates within qualitative research - including
the increased use of computer software for qualitative data
analysis (CAQDAS), the role of the visual in ethnographic
research, and new media and ethnographic representation.
CAQDAS: Our critique of CAQDAS programs had been
that 1) they tend to fragment and decontextualise data records
and 2) they have tended to naturalise a division between analysis
and representation, thus neglecting the implications of digital
technology for transforming all stages of the research process.
In this project we explored alternative and complimentary
strategies that sought to explore the potential of analysis
through hyperlinking and the integration of representational
and analytical strategies.
Visual methods and ethnography: Visual methods have rarely
been considered as a way of ‘doing’ ethnography
(Ball and Smith 2001); illustration has taken precedence over
detailed analysis. We constructed the project in order to
contribute to recent explorations of the possibilities for
the qualitative analysis of visual data (Banks 2001; Pink
2001; Rose 2001). We focused on the premise that factoring
the audio-visual dimension into qualitative research does
not produce a merely additive effect; but can constitute a
new, multi-semiotic form of communication (Kress 1998; Dicks
and Mason 2002b; Dicks et al 2005).
Ethnographic representations: The conventions of
representation and authorship for qualitative research have
undergone substantial contestation and revision in recent
years. However, relatively little attention has been paid
to the ways in which digital technology might be brought to
bear on the authorship and readership of research texts. The
possibilities of digital data expand the range of representational
issues with which the qualitative researcher must engage,
and thus provide opportunities for novel re-presentation.