Just what is truth and what is authority these days?
In a connected world we cannot claim to be the sole arbiters of truth or knowledge; there is no object truth because of the different places we all sit within the world. Reality is a very personal thing. Which makes me wonder what can we now call authority? Where does it live in a place like Wikipedia? As a researcher who is expecting to use the connected world to gain my understanding from, how do I know that I have the authority to draw my own conclusions? What if I disagree with my participants? Understanding is different than agreeing with, right? By understanding I mean being taken to a new place and leaving something behind. That is why the notion of dialogue feels comfortable to me. “Dialogue in this sense does not literally mean a conversation between two parties; in practice it often consists of multiple, even contradictory, voices.” (p.164) For me the dialogue in my research is likely to happen over time and be revisited by participants to see if they still think this way or to understand why they think that way.
With regard to an agreement about the validity in the observation of social phenomena in the natural setting I think the best we can hope for is a maybe. We are not talking about the positivist right-wrong world here. I also wonder what we can call a natural setting? However an ongoing dialogue over time could lead to some amazing understanding if we are open to possibilities. If this dialogue occurs within a network of knowing that is diverse. If the members actually participate, it is interactive and is open then the community could interpret truth.
With the adoption of visual methods and the nebulous nature of the Internet potentially there is a risk to the participants. In this situation if we have any hope of coming to anyone’s truth we need our participants to be good at describing the detail of the event. A relationship must be formed. They need to feel comfort to share and we need to look at the event from different directions. We also need to be there. I mean be in there not outside in the hall watching. Angrosino informs us on page 170 that this gives the participant a power that potentially might shape the research agenda. If this approach is taken then the need to protect from risk is reduced significantly.