Micro-Ethnography: Nirvana/Grunge Rock You Tube Community



For my micro-ethnography I decided to study a Nirvana/Grunge Rock You Tube community. Access to the ethnography is available here and EDC comments are listed below.



10 Responses to “Micro-Ethnography: Nirvana/Grunge Rock You Tube Community”

  1. Phil Devine March 7, 2013 at 10:12 am #

    Hi Nikki – Odd isn’t it how we’ve all treated this exercise differently? Yours feels like an academic essay; methods, ethics, investigation etc. Mine is an investigation in sound an image of a community that allows, as all semiotic approaches do, interpretation for further (user) investigation, an attempt to provoke thought towards understanding!

    Yours has more explicate meaning – I think this is a problem (not yours or mine! But in general) with use of multimodal work in an academic environment, if use of image, and more semantic interpretation is not fully realised or fully understood. This has to be difficult for our tutors who are in academic literary mode. To step into image / multimodal interpretation is about learning a different language, which has explicate context but very much allows for personal interpretation… Interpretation of learning (really) being the role of a teacher. It does take more work (intellectually), asking the question, are we ready for image / multimodal interpretation in academia outside of the Art & Design tradition (in which Edinburgh Uni [ECA] are excellent).

    This is a dangerous scenario in my opinion, a student could fail an academic exercise with one interpretation, but pass with first class honors in another. What language are we communicating with? Little confused…

    • Nikki Bourke March 8, 2013 at 10:12 am #

      Hi Phil,

      I find it reassuring that we as a group have produced a diverse range of enthnographic explorations. This was my first time using Issuu so it was a bit of a learning curve with that platform. It becomes a very different creature with the addition of sound…

      There is always going to be an element of subjectivity when it comes to interpretation. The multimodality of a piece of work will inevitabily have some impact upon how an examiner approaches his / her examination of the subject…perhaps that the interpretation is achieved through an alternative route on account of the nature of the piece.

  2. Jen Ross March 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm #

    well done with this, Nikki. There are some interesting points of difference with Gina’s Youtube-based ethnography. What you seem to be seeing here, which she wasn’t in hers, is enough shared reference points through which a disparate group of youtube users can establish connections – the cement, as you call it. It’s making me think about whether such cement is enough – or if, perhaps, this cement is generating a ‘simulation’ of community? Thought provoking! many thanks.

    On Phil’s comment about multimodal work – I would agree that the teacher’s role in interpreting such work is fraught with challenges. I’d say, though, that these challenges of interpretation are merely more evident in multimodal work, not necessarily that writing is any less subject to interpretation. So, in all cases, we try to use our assessment criteria (core and nominated) as a support for shared understandings, and we design in the time to build up connections, and opportunities for informal feedback and conversation (like the artefact and ethnography) that mean (should mean) we are not writing, creating *or* assessing in a vacuum. It’s never easy, though – not in my experience, anyway, and it sounds like not in Phil’s either.

  3. Giraf87 March 7, 2013 at 9:57 pm #

    This is really enjoyable. I too was very tempted doing a YouTube ethno for an 80s band…. The only thing that was stopping me is that I felt I would be too close to it. (I had posts myself, LOL!)

    I wonder if YouTube emulates the whole essence of ‘identity’ in the idea of ‘consuming’ your most favourite band which is core to one’s self-concept and therefore gives a much stronger sense of community, a real fan club with like minded people… (more in Kozinets readings)

  4. Candace Nolan-Grant March 9, 2013 at 11:33 am #

    Are you talking smack about my curtain pole community?? : )

    In (slightly more serious) reference to this idea, while I agree with you that cultural phenomena like grunge do engage people more in community because they are tightly linked to their personal identities (and, in this case, past on- and offline experiences), I wouldn’t like to be the one to define what was and wasn’t this kind of cultural watershed… There are topics that most people would find fairly mundane that large subsets of internet users can dedicate their lives to, and (I would argue, anyway) are closely linked to identity. I should probably supply an example at this point…how about http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mslT1hQXgvA Some posts are quite emotive : )

    • Nikki Bourke March 10, 2013 at 1:40 pm #

      Hi Candace,

      Would love to join your curtain pole community!! :)

      I agree with your point about personal identities and linking to communities from those identities. After all, one man’s trash is another man’s treasure! Interpretation of what is ‘culture’ is open to personal interpretation…totally subjective!

      While I wasn’t attempting to draw any line marking out a cultural watershed I found that my experience of the YouTube Nirvana Grunge Rock Group left me wondering if offline socio-cultural influences could strengthen the lines/boundaries that an online community exist within/around.Perhaps, I should have emphasized the off-line element.

      Cheers for the trains link!

  5. Giraf87 March 9, 2013 at 7:05 pm #

    ha, indeed, quite amazing that, but still there are 17,076 hits, and only 38 comments, so in terms of identifying perhaps most are just agreeable to the upload. I think the idea of identity in a spectator environment which I guess YouTube is, is a real challenge to have very clear observation on.

  6. Steph Carr March 10, 2013 at 4:53 pm #

    Hi Nikki, as an erstwhile grunge fan, I really enjoyed this. I thought the point about the ‘closed’ membership of groups was interesting and raised questions about potential exclusivity – has grunge moved from being an accessible respite for those who don’t particularly want to conform to the mainstream, into something that on the surface appears to be an exclusive club?

    In the nineties, I was able to actively join the periphery of the ‘community’, simply by attending concerts and buying records from HMV; I probably had to outwardly prove my credentials only by wearing the grunge uniform (some of which was decidedly dodgy). If I wanted to be active within the online groups now, I wonder what, if anything, I’d need to display to validate my position.

    V.interesting. Thanks.

  7. Anabel Drought March 10, 2013 at 8:47 pm #

    Really enjoyed this ethnography and it worked especially well in Issuu – which I have never used before but looks great – is it easy to use?

    One thing that struck me is that as it is a community reflecting on an essentially historic genre of music / culture. It would be interesting to compare the community with a Youtube group of say Dub Step perhaps the two main concerns of authenticity and identity may not be so important. This could be to do with the demographics of the community or the nature of the genre of music.

    Very interesting and had me singing Smells like teen spirit in my head all day!

  8. cmeckenstock March 11, 2013 at 7:07 am #

    Hi Nikki, I really like the way you have made some observations about the Youtube Grunge community – passion and enthusiasm driving the progression to become a virtual community, the socio-cultural heritage and the explanation on the aura of technology. The issue of authenticity is also an interesting one, who is in and who is out, and who decides. I think this will really prevent me, if I was a lurker, to join any online groups which would judge me this way! Thank you for a very interesting ethnography: short but many interesting issues raised.