From fieldnotes to fieldtags
I seem to spend a lot of my social media research time tagging web contents rather than taking fieldnotes. By ‘tagging’ I mean attaching keywords such as ‘activism’, ‘protest’, and ‘sinde’ to online materials that seem useful and then saving them on the bookmarking site Delicious.com, or (less frequently) on this blog, or ‘sharing’ them via Twitter through hashtags (e.g. #activism, #socialmedia, #egypt).
How does extensive tagging shape the fieldwork process? By analogy to Granovetter’s celebrated dictum about strong vs. weak ties, are weak (uniplex) tags as important as strong (multiplex) tags? Does the ethnographer
gather grow a long tail of weak tags as he or she spends month after month in social media environments?