Monday, August 18, 2003

The issue of gender on the internet emerged in my research when I was working with photobloggers and noticed that about 13 of my first 15 interviews were with men. This wasn't intentional; which is to say, I neither sampled for men nor failed to sample for them. It just happened that way, and over the subsequent few months, I interviewed a number of women photobloggers, not only to look at gender, but to diversify the photobloggers and photoblogging practices I was researching. Lori Kendall's book _Hanging Out in the Virtual Pub: Masculinities and Relationships Online_ (University of California Press, 2002) deals explicitly with gender, as does Nina Wakeford's essay "Sexualised Bodies in Cyberspace", collected in _Beyond the Book:Theory, Culture, and the Politics of Cyberspace_ (Oxford, 1996). Obviously, these aren't all the resources available on the subject, just the ones I'm looking at now. What I want, initially, is a framework for gender/internet that doesn't ultimately take refuge in difference (e.g. men tend to like technology, women favour relationships) or performance (e.g. people learn, through the internet, that gender is performed; Kendall nicely complicates this idea). Also: in an ethnography of internet practices, does gender become an issue only if the participants suggest it as an issue? Or can it emerge as an important issue outside of photobloggers' awareness of or interest in it as such? The photobloggers I talked to were keen to talk about gender and photoblogging, but it didn't seem present as a factor in their day to day practice of photoblogging (in their awareness of that practice). That's all. Just an update, some questions, and a dead stop.
-kris