knowing by doing?

as fears about the dark side of social networking abound, one question continues to persist for me: to what extent does someone (a researcher of adolescents' literacies, for example) benefit from participating in the digital communicative landscape when aiming to make sense of that landscape within the lives of aforementioned adolescents?

i recall having a similar conversation about gaming and literacy research and wondering whether one had to play video games in order to research gaming in the lives of youth. thinking back to that conversation now, i am reminded of a video i saw recently on edutopia in which mimi ito is being interviewed about her digital youth study. in it, ito describes three ways that she observed youth engaging in informal learning outside of school with technologies:
hanging out
messing around
geeking out

each of these "ways in" - what ito and her colleagues refer to as "genres of participation" - is associated with various sets of practices and postures and social communities. as i thought about these distinctions (see video and full report for on these genres), i began to wonder about how researchers fit into (or don't) these participation genres. and to what extent and in what ways do we locate ourselves within these already hybrid spaces and moments of digital participation...