Jade Did Drumbeat: A Field Journal

It's Interactive and Ethnographic


Storming the Academy Online

Members of Future Class and HASTAC on their Computers at Drumbeat

Blurring Lines

Subject: Re: Meeting TOMORROW, Sunday, 7pm, Link seminar room 1
Date: November 13, 2010 1:12:00 PM EST

Hey everyone,

I thought we were doing a skype conference.  I won’t be able to come out to Durham that late.  Is there any way I can call in/connect via webcam?

Jade (Email to class listserv)

Due to a scheduling conflict I was unable to make it to the first big post Drumbeat brain storming meeting. Robbie also had a conflict. As a result, while Whitney, Sam, Mary Caton and Nick met in a seminar room at Duke, I connected from my bedroom and Robbie connected from work.


A majority of our “class time” leading up to the festival happened through various means of online communication. Through trial and error we went through two websites (a basic wordpress blog and a buddypress), an email listserv, various google documents (that were managed wiki-style) and random skype, ichat and google voice meetings.

The form of communication that ended up being the most successful was the listserv. The idea of a private collective space that was accessible on our own terms and timelines, within reason (meaning constantly and continuously but discretely for most), proved to be the most intuitive. Though people seemed very happy to have the buddypress website, especially the community elements that were built in, there was confusion and unease over the idea of creating public facing content.

The most interesting thing for me regarding the online communication was the shifting of power dynamics/negotiation tactics that occurred when compared to our face to face meetings. When people had the opportunity to reflect and then write without interruption voices that might have been lost or uncomfortable to bubble of during fact to face meetings suddenly had a lot more input. Things that were limited to side conversations during class meetings were able to become group discussions where people who weren’t initially involved felt safe to assert themselves. Things that would have been lost had we not had the online component ended up being the things we were most passionate about during Drumbeat.

During the Festival

The class website fell silent but people were active on twitter, letting people at drumbeat know what was happening at the tent as well as noting interesting occurrences, meetings and thoughts. Mary Caton also sent emails to the listserv checking in throughout our time in Barcelona.

Why I Care and Why I Pushed for Some of This

My primary area of research interest is around how people represent themselves online versus in real life.  What things do people add or take away from themselves, and how do their interactions change when they are digitally mediated?  Do their online and offline identities sync up?  It was very fun for me to observe the subtle and sometimes not so subtle changes in personalities and visibility that happened online.  It is one of the reasons my initial project was creating an online forum for use in a classroom.

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