A 21st Century Kind of Question

At his delightful blog, Timothy Burke takes up whether qualitative research about virtual worlds is best served by the methods of anthropology or history.

Douglas Thomas just pointed out that when we talk about qualitative methods in virtual world research, we always tend to define that as ethnography, when there are other kinds of qualitative methods that are potentially important, including history.
I think that’s right, and it struck me how odd it is that I, as a historian, generally talk about virtual worlds methodology in terms of my habitual dissatisfaction with the tendency of anthropology to visit its own ethical obsessions on all discussions of ethnography as a method. I don’t talk about historical narratives or events in virtual worlds, even though what I think is most interesting about virtual worlds is that they are historical, processual, dynamic, iterative. …
I had a discussion earlier today about a parallel problem in simulations of emergent phenomena, which also seem deeply historical and processual by their nature.

Read it all. Stretch yr brain.