Some days ago, anthropologist Kerim Friedman wrote about Armchair Anthropology in the Cyber Age?: "I predict that we will slowly see the return of the “armchair anthropologists” Malinowski so famously dethroned." The reason: "The web offers a tremendous, and ever growing database of lived experience."
The newspaper Age (Australia) writes more about the ongoing trend to gather research data online:
"Researchers around the world are tapping into the global reach of the internet as never before, seeking answers to a wide variety of topics, including: humour at the office, drug abuse, religious beliefs, parenting styles, mother-daughter relationships, human mate selection, extramarital affairs, fascination with celebrity and sexual boredom.
Anthropologist Daniel Fessler knows how to spice up the titles for his studies to lure web surfers. Last year, he posted a study on physical attractiveness online with the alluring title Are They Hot or Not? buried among others with titles such as Development of Gender Concepts in Infancy.
Praising online surveys over face-to-face Fessler says: "We don't need people to engage in a lot of attempts to make a good impression, we need them to provide us with honest responses."
(Fessler's answer doens't sound convincing. It's not that easy. The rules are the same in the online- and the offline-world. Without a good relationship to your informants you can't write a good ethnography)
Armchair Anthropology in the Cyber Age?