Skip to content

Fourth digital ethnography reading (Gehl 2014)

September 24, 2015

By Will Balmford


Here is the next reading for the digital ethnography reading group, RMIT Melbourne, to be held on Wed 14 October 2015 from 12 to 13.30. Kindly sourced by Ekaterina Tokareva:

Robert W Gehl, (2014). Power/freedom on the dark web: A digital ethnography of the Dark Web Social Network. new media & society, pp.1-17.

In the first article we read in this group Horst et al. (2012) note that we need to have a conversation around the current use of ethnography  and its relation to interdisciplinarity.

On his university Robert Gehl states that he draws on interdisciplinary fields ‘such as science and technology studies, political economy, software studies, and critical/cultural studies’ to explore social media. In this particular essay he turns to ethnographic approach to ask questions about power and freedom on the Dark Web Social Network (DWSN).

The main question to discuss are as follows:

Does the chosen approach work?
In other words, do the questions that the author asks, the method, and the concepts he draws on, work well together?

We can also discuss what this essay contributes to the some reoccurring themes such as:

  • anonymity and its functions
  • ideology of techno elites,
  • pros and cons of online vs. offline research,
  • techniques of working with anonymous groups

Here’s Robert Gehl’s profile on the University of Utah website for those interested:

I’ll also sent out Google calendar invites shortly for the meeting place.

As always, send this on to anyone you think would be interested!

Many thanks,


Will Balmford
Research Assistant
Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC)
School of Media and Communication
RMIT University, Australia
Available Tuesday and Thursday



RMIT University
PO Box 2476
Melbourne, VIC 3001 Australia

No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: