Methodologies: information biography

The increasing appropriation of the internet and smartphones, and social media in particular, have arguably altered everyday praxis and social structure in Central African societies. This phenomenon demands new methodologies. CTD researchers Inge Ligtvoet and Mirjam de Bruijn have introduced the concept of information biographies: a method which allows us to get a comprehensive understanding of the use and impact of the social media beyond the hashtag in two ways.

First, it gives room for deep ethnographical understanding of who (and what) is behind the social media post. Fieldwork on the continent, among the users of the social media will give insights into their specific use of social media and the why behind their posts. Contextualizing social media trends and posts in the everyday, offline, context of their users is crucial, as the online and offline are interrelated and should therefore not be regarded as separate spheres.

Secondly, an information biography takes into consideration the personal history of the social media user and tries to understand it in the larger historical context of the society he is part of.