Researching Digital Inferno
In a way I’ve been researching Digital Inferno since I was first bought an Acorn Electron computer back in the early 1980s. As a social scientist I kept diaries and made notes and reflected on my experiences in the digital realm throughout the 1990s and into the new millennium.
When I started blogging about the digital realm I wrote up my reflections, sometimes daily, sharing them with the public and receiving feedback and comment. I’ve spoken with literally hundreds of people – sometimes informally chatting, sometimes in a more structured interview-style conversation. Everything I have written up has anonymised the people I’ve spoken with and respected confidentiality. I’ve spoken with individuals, couples, groups and organisations, in different parts of the world, mainly in the UK.
In research terms, I’ve been a direct and a participant observe. I’ve used reflection on experience and diaries as recording methods.
Digital Inferno was never intended to be a scientific study but I have used the skills I learned a social scientist in bringing the book together, including comparing my thoughts and conclusions to existing work published in the literature. I have also spoken to a lot of the “key thinkers” in the digital realm. I accessed a lot of the published research, much of which was either “for or against” the digital realm, I worked my blog sections up into chapters and checked the main content against my own notes, as well as leading thinking and experience in the field. I share a lot of those references throughout the blog and put some key ones in the book. Mostly I drew upon my own data as both a direct and a participant observer of, and in, the digital realm. I made use of several mentors and critical friends to reality check what I was writing, and point out bias.
Digital Inferno is largely my personal encounter with all of that “data”, presented as a book that can be read by anyone.