Street encounters and digital encounters are hybrids. Trying to understand them separately will trip the ethnographer up (Lane, 2018). Lane elaborates the digital element to street encounters and the reverse using a multi-sited ethnography which traces encounters through street and digital domains.
Doing so means he avoids assuming the meaning of what’s online. In one case, the ‘respect’ code of the street is given another dimension as encounters can be recorded and reviewed. Rivalry is played out online, through Twitter, Facebook and Insta. Reputations can be trashed when it is shown that a previously tough player tries to dodge a physical challenge. However more context is given on each encounter. A video that looks like a one on one defeat with the protagonist backing down from a fight is later shown to be an unfair three to one ambush. It is therefore less fatal to the victim’s reputation. Boyd’s concept of networked publics is used. People living hybrid lives have to act towards many audiences some of which are invisible to them or cohere around their performances at a later point. A really intriguing picture emerges of mutual interrelationships such as. shared facebook friends and rivalry between opposing blocks or gangs. In a way the rivalry could not exist without mutual conduits – often young women – acting as weak tie players between parties to transmit threats, taunts and warnings and to act as a networked public. How male is the code of the street? How does the digital change that – it seems to be a space for girls to have a bit more autonomy and control, a bedroom culture.
In Lane’s work The Pastor follows lots of local youth on Twitter and does a kind of in person predictive crime analysis. He notes suggestions of violence and motivating the community around flashpoint encounters like when groups are going between parties, or when retaliation looks likely. He uses text to communicate with parents and Twitter to communicate with/monitor teens. Doing so bridges two networked publics, using a network of spotters – so covering both in person and online.
A critical part of the gendering of cybercrime is where it takes place. Where is it done: in sweatshops, industrial parks, in homes. We are still missing out on the bedroom where much cultural performance, and much cybercrime takes place. Domesticating cybercrime in terms of both target and perpetrators will lead us back there (Horgan, 2019).
Horgan, Shane Liam. “Cybercrime and everyday life: exploring public sensibilities towards the digital dimensions of crime and disorder.” (2019).
Lane, Jeffrey. The digital street. Oxford University Press, 2018.