investigating the mundane

Just came across an interesting post on Remixing Anthropology – an abstract of a talk on using the vast amounts of digital data that are stored in our travels on the web, on cell phones, etc. for anthropological research.  It made me think of a couple of things, including a project that I keep hearing about – David Buckingham and Rebekah Willett’s research on "people’s everyday uses of video camcorders in domestic settings," which basically gives out video cameras to people and asks them to make a record of what they do with the camera.  You could also say that Mimi Ito’s Digital Youth project – a large scale ethnography of youth’s out of school technology practices – deals with the mundane, as well.  I think this type of work is important in that it begins to puncture some of the hype surrounding the discourse of new technologies – "oooh, looky what the kids these days are doing!" that tends to focus on the exceptional, running the risk of overstating the issue, and/or marginalizing alternative practices that don’t fit within the discourse.  Pushing back against the hype is something I try to do in my research, as well, and I wonder – is perhaps the pendulum beginning to swing the other way?  Or will the hype discourse continue with each new technology that’s released on the market?

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