Week 8: Digital Ethnography

Ethnography, by the definition used within Pink et al (2016), is stated as “iterative-inductive research (that evolves in design through the study), drawing on a family of methods…that acknowledges the role of theory as well as the researcher’s own role and that views humans as part object/part subject”. Due to this definition, and others which multiple fields of academia use, Pink et al (2016) argue that those who use ethnography within their research do not always agree on the definition being used, therefore the types of research which is meant by ‘ethnography’ is not always agreement on. One of these research methods which is not always agreed on is that from digital ethnography. It has been argued that since digital element of digital ethnography does not centre around humans as individuals, but on data gathering instead, this does not fall into the category of ‘ethnography’. In counter to this argument, it could be suggested that as the data is gathered from humans, either in the singular or multiple, allows for this information to fall into the ‘ethnography’ category. Such a distinction seems both important and negligible at the same time: the question of the type of human impact and importance within a research method could depend on both the type of research being conducted and the context in which it works within. Therefore, could it not be argued that ethnography can, and should, be used within digital settings and platforms when the need arises instead of arguing for and against in the general sense of the term.



Pink, S. et al. (2016) Digital ethnography: principles and practice. SAGE

Week 7: Digital Media and Open Data

Quinton and Smallbone (2010)’s work on student reflection and learning, within the use of digital media and open data, could be explored in the terms of continued education. By allowing educational digital media to be open and accessible to everyone could allow for further education, understanding and learning from prior examples and mistakes. This would aid in helping future teaching as well as those who are hoping to up-skill and understand other areas for their own development. The idea of such open data does have its merits – allowing for support across educational facilities, counties and possibly even countries; however, that is not to say that there are not drawbacks of open data. By opening up so much data in such a way would, inevitably, break laws around personal information, consent of data, along with multiple others. There are many in the world who would not agree that the positivises of such open data would ever outweigh the breaches of such confidentiality. Yet, in argument to this, is it so different from the technology-saturated world which we currently live in? Said information and data is already currently online and assessable to certain people. Would it be such a change to allow more people this assess? I am sure some would think it would be. Yet I am sure there would be as many others who would be grateful for the support given in their time of need. This, as many topics when it comes to digital media, is a difficult conversation, one of which does not have an easy answer when trying to please and answer to many different arguments, laws and voices.



Leszczynski, A. et al. (2016) Speculative futures: Cities, data, and governance beyond smart urbanism. Environment and Planning A: Economy and Space. SAGEjournals. https://doi-org.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/10.1177/0308518X16651445

Quinton, S. and Smallbone, T. (2010) Feeding forward: using feedback to promote student reflections and learning – a teaching model. Innovations in Education and Teaching International. Volume 47, 2010 – Issue 1. https://doi-org.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/10.1080/14703290903525911

Week 6: Hashtag Activism

Bonilla and Rosa’s 2015 article on #Ferguson explores the magnitude of ways which social media hashtags have been used in America, particularly in retaliation towards un-just shootings of people of colour. Such explorations are profound and informative of the social response to such events, yet the article does little to critique or questions such actions, nor the impact of the response. It is important to note that hashtag activism is not of single use towards injustice against people of colour and Black people, but that these are only one example of a community which use such activism against injustice. While Bonilla and Rosa (2015) do make good points on the evidence found on how American legal action impacts people of colour, Black teenage boys in particular, they fail to explore how such hashtag activism works to trouble these behaviours. While an element of this is answered in the final paragraph of Bonilla and Rosa’s work by stating “…particularly social media, had posed ‘the most significant challenge’ to his investigation” suggesting that this activism does work to express their emotions to the world, in such troubling the mainstream portrayal of the event. However, such troubling does seem to do little in support of the action which the hashtag impresses on social media readers: there seems to be no understanding or expression of understanding towards the community who has been hurt. In fact, by the quote above, it seems to suggest that, in a legal sense, the activism actually did very little to help their case. In the sense of society there is no mention within this article of how this activism supported, or opposed, the call to action regarding shootings of unarmed Black and people of colour in America.



Bonilla, Y. and Rosa, J. (2015) #Ferguson: Digital protest, hashtag ethnography, and the racial politics of social media in the United States. American Ethnologist. Volume 42, Issue 1. https://doi-org.ezproxy.brighton.ac.uk/10.1111/amet.12112

Week 4: Vulnerability and Ethics of Digital Cities

The ethics and vulnerabilities of digital and smart cities are an important issue, now more so than ever before with the somewhat unintentional rise in technology. Rob Kitchin (2020) explored this very topic in his article “Hacking cities is very much a reality”. Due to the amount of data which can be, and to some extent is currently, being gathered by such cities it is important for those in charge of such technologies and cities to ask what type of information they want and need to gather, and how such data should be gathered and regulated. With how much information and technology is used in cities, the idea of any first world city being hacked is no longer only a thought for science fiction or futuristic shows. This could be done through disabling systems, such as traffic lights which would cause possible traffic accidents, injures, and deaths, or through the hacking of central databases to steal information. Should this happen, it could lead to many problems in society, both for individuals and for the local area in general. However, it would not just be central problems which this could cause: the technology systems which are used would need to be built by humans on a system which would only account for certain groups of people. As such it is very likely that smart cities would become much more inequal with the further rise of technology usage and reliance. Not only, but it would be the minority of the society and city who would fall into this category, yet these people would be the most vulnerable in society as well.




Kitchin, R. (2020) Hacking cities is very much a reality. Digital Future Society. https://digitalfuturesociety.com/qanda/rob-kitchin-and-the-vulnerabilities-of-smart-cities/


Week 3: From all sides, Smart Cities

For this blog I will exploring and critiquing the work of Anthony Townsend’s 2013 Smart Cities. Townsend’s introduction is quite an interested view on the history, the current state, and the future of so-called ‘Smart Cities’, from the viewpoint of the year 2013 that is. Townsend’s argument, for lack of a better word, is quite intricate: he explores both the positives and negatives of technological-enabled cities, but from multiple different perspectives. While multiple other studies in ‘Smart Cities’ have either argued for or against such ideas and the consequences of them, Townsend instead explores both sides of the arguments, not coming to a complete conclusion within this chapter. What I find most interesting from this chapter is the way in which Townsend went about exploring these topics: instead of focusing on a general aspect of how ‘Smart Cities’ could impact society, Townsend explores how technology has affected roles such as the policy, corporate and economic systems, as well as civilian lives. Not only does this reflect on the ways in which technology has changed the world, but it also highlights the fact that such changes did not begin in the 21st century with the internet.




Townsend, A.M. (2013) Smart Cities. New York: W.W.Norton & Company.

Week 2: The right to Smart Cities?

The work which I decided to reflex on during this blog is the work of Paolo Cardullo “The right to the smart city” (2019), particularly the first chapter entitled ‘Citizenship, Justice, and the Right to the Smart City’. While I wasn’t too sure what to aspect from this book, I found it extremely interesting and enlightening by the time I had finished my read. The idea of ‘Smart Cities’ is not a strange one to me, however I had never thought of it in such detail until beginning this module. Cardullo’s work only made me even more aware of the differences, dangers and the innovation which can – and have – come from Smart Cities. The issue of ethics stuck out to me: in the UK a lot of our lives are already online through smart phones, email and cloud sharing both in personal and professional working lives, and multiple social media platforms allowing for anyone to post almost every aspect of their lives to the whole world. This seems to be done by many millions of people a day without the thought of the consequences which could happen to the amount of information they give out. This can cause so many ethical problems for researchers of all types: what is and is not allowed to be used, where the line is crossed between public to private. It is clear that this is not yet understood, nor are all the guidelines around ethical online research, and with technology only moving forward it will be interesting to see how these two topics end up changing and shaping both the Smart world which we live in and Smart (online) research.



Cardullo, P. (2019) The right to the smart city. Emerald Publishing.