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OxDeg: Digital detox: One Forest, Two Cities, and My Facebook

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Oxford Internet Institute

1 St Giles'

Oxford

OX1 3JS

United Kingdom

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The Oxford Internet Institute is excited to have Theodora Sutton, DPhil student at the OII, for the OxDeg talk 'Digital detox: One Forest, Two Cities, and My Facebook'.

The hashtag to use for tweeting about this event is #OxDeg.


About the Talk

During this session of OxDEG Theodora Sutton will present the tentative findings and methodological hurdles from research into a digital detoxing community in the San Francisco Bay Area. This community shun their technology and camp in the woods together once a year, before returning to their ‘real’ lives, when they congregate in a community Facebook group. The talk builds on a six month ethnography undertaken in 2017 as the central data for a forthcoming DPhil thesis.

The talk will primarily present a few of the ongoing questions that the research presents. How does this activity tie to the area’s history of New Age thinking, and can it be explained using virtue signalling, cultural appropriation, or even as a cult or religion? What can this in-depth study tell us about broader concerns around digital technology use, particularly those framed by health and spirituality? And does digital detoxing perpetuate problematic digital dualism and value judgements around technology?

Finally, the talk will cover some of the methodological hurdles faced throughout the ethnography: what it means to be isolated ‘off the grid’ with informants in a digital world, and the idea of using your personal social media as a research tool.

The hashtag to use for tweeting about this event is #OxDeg.


Please Note

Please arrive early. If you register but do not show up 5 minutes before the event your seat will be given to those on the waiting list a few minutes before the talk starts.

Please note many events are recorded, and you may be visible on our webcasts, depending on where you sit.


About the Speaker

Theodora Sutton is a digital anthropologist and DPhil student at the Oxford Internet Institute, University of Oxford. Her research focuses on a digital detoxing community in the San Francisco Bay Area, and explores the widespread moralisation of digital technology. She has also worked in user experience and used qualitative research methods with the Government Digital Service and The Science Museum. Her interests include perceptions of authenticity in a digital world, digitally mediated relationships, emotional relationships with devices themselves, and fears of ‘over-civilisation’ or what James Burke calls ‘The Technology Trap’.


About the Series

This seminar series, created by the Oxford Digital Ethnography Group, gathers leading scholars and practitioners to reflect on how ethnography is adapting to the study of heavily-mediated worlds. The overarching theme is digital ethnography, broadly conceived. The group aims to extend inter-disciplinary academic research and collaboration among scholars at Oxford University interested in understanding rich, qualitative approaches to researching behaviour online. It will encompass a variety of research interests within this field, including digital visual anthropology as well as a variety of qualitative, ethnographic methodologies appropriate to the study of the digital environment.

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Oxford Internet Institute

1 St Giles'

Oxford

OX1 3JS

United Kingdom

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