Ethnography on the Cyberian Frontier


  • Rhian Morgan James Cook University, Townsville Campus



Virtual worlds are persistent, multi-user, computer generated environments, established and maintained via internet technologies. Cyber-ethnography is the adaptation of the ethnographic method to the study of virtual worlds. The collective and interactive nature of life in contemporary digital space has incited the interest of a new generation of
ethnographers and awakened the discipline of anthropology to the possibility of studying a form of sociality that exists beyond the confines of the physical realm. Virtual world communities are crafted through an amalgamation of technology and human sociality; by studying these emergent worlds, ethnographers are able to observe culture in the making.
After twenty years of development, virtual worlds have emerged as distinct domains of human being worthy of study in their own right. However, as a discipline cyber-ethnography is still trying to establish itself and demonstrate the contributions it can make to both anthropology and the arts and social sciences in general. The developments within cyberethnography have mirrored advancements in computing technologies and reflect wider debates within the discipline of anthropology. The following review shows how online ethnography can help us understand our digital life-worlds. The article begins by defining virtual worlds, describing the virtual field site Entropia Universe and documenting the development of the discipline. It culminates with an exploration of being and place in
cyberspace, drawing on ethnographic data from the virtual world Entropia Universe.




How to Cite

Morgan, R. (2016). Ethnography on the Cyberian Frontier. ETropic: Electronic Journal of Studies in the Tropics, 12(1).