Developing digital anthropology research

"Digital anthropology" is a new concept in the field of human sciences. The term has been around for more than a decade, as humans began to enter the era of the fourth industrial revolution (Industry 4.0). With its technological superiority and new approach, this kind of anthropological research will be an indispensable choice for anthropologists in the Industry 4.0 era.

The internet connects people in all countries and regions of the world. (Photo:Tran Hai)
The internet connects people in all countries and regions of the world. (Photo:Tran Hai)

In current life, the internet connects people in all countries and regions of the world. Online platforms, such as Facebook, Youtube, Google and Twitter have gathered communities together to share their views on politics, society or whatever their interest may be, and to form their own groups. From there, the concept of "digital citizen" also began to take shape. According to the study of digital citizens, the digital community poses as a requirement in modern society, as the social space now extends into cyberspace.

Digital anthropology research has theory and specific methods of practice. Applying these methods encourages anthropologists to share research, use digital platforms, and propose solutions to the digital community research. Cyberspace in digital anthropology is not present in reality by quantitative measurements, but closely and intimately connected with real space. It allows anthropologists to observe, analyze and explain the social and cultural phenomena that are occurring daily and occur in many interactive spaces.

Vietnam has a population of more than 90 million and is the fastest country in Southeast Asia regarding digitisation. As of 2018, more than 50 million people have regularly connected to the Internet through different forms. Over the past two decades, Vietnamese anthropologists have taken a step by step approach to modern theories for the study of anthropology and its application in fieldwork, with the cooperation and sharing of community groups. Many anthropologists in Vietnam, with different forms, have applied modern anthropological theory and used new methods of practice that apply digital technology to study communities and social problems.

Associate Professor Nguyen Truong Giang, Deputy Head of the Anthropology Department, University of Social Sciences and Humanities – Vietnam National University, Hanoi, said that anthropologists in Vietnam have used Digital-based methodologies such as community film, photovoice, and co-research, to step by step create an "industry” of digital anthropology and collaborative anthropology - sharing in some projects cooperating with community groups. However, the works have stopped at only some individuals or some agencies but have not really become a powerful movement in applying the theory or in systematically applying the method of practice to shape the digital anthropological movement in line with the trend of the times.

Associate Prof. Nguyen Truong Giang also commented: "The practice sets new basic and urgent requirements and tasks, including the implementation of scientific activities and the training of students, graduate students and doctoral students, as well as specialists in applying new science and technology to study and preserve the fields related social sciences and humanities, that aims to exploit and promote cultural resources to develop the country.”.

The Government of Vietnam attaches great importance to the application of science and technology to research fields, both in technology science and human sciences, which is considered as a key to solve the real issues and toward the future. On the technology platform, the information associated with research is digitized and linked to open sources, which are becoming richer and more endless.