Crisis? What crisis?

“Ethnographic travels” by IaninSheffield is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

As I prepare for my supervisory meeting this week, I’m reminded of the previous meeting when I offered  this rendering (It’s a much smaller version of the full one and I’m far from happy with the way it displays what I want, but … well, compromise!). It’s an attempt to show some of the activity I’ve been engaged in as a participant observer, but also a little more than that. It serves several functions, providing:

  • a visual record of what came to my attention and whether I chose to interact;
  • direct hyperlinks back to the tweets, sites, posts or comments i.e. the original data which attracted my gaze;
  • a precis of the information/data behind that data point;
  • my observational comments – why it attracted my attention, what I thought and what I did; and
  • a kickstart of the process of analysis.

This sits alongside a slightly more conventional set of field notes, although much more brief than the notes which might usually accompany field work. I didn’t see them as needing to capture all the rich detail of the people in view – what they were doing and trying to achieve, what and how they communicated and so on. My notes certainly bear little resemblance to those of traditional ethnography, but then this isn’t a traditional ethnography.Read More »

It must be a sign …

“Tracing the field” by IaninSheffield is licensed under CC BY-NC-SA

In my most recent doctoral supervision meeting, I briefly mentioned how I’m recording/tracking the paths I’m taking as I conduct my ethnographic observations. For me, it’s a way to visualise where I’ve been, when I was there, what I saw, what I thought; an alternative to the more traditional, textual field notes (which I’m also keeping by the way). In the meeting, I innocently referred to the process as ‘tracing the field,’ as I have done here in the past. Oh dear! I’d used one of those … ‘little words;’ in fact I’d compounded the problem by also mentioning mapping and representing. Once again I’d committed the sin of using words which may be fine to use in everyday contexts, but which in academic discourse, require much more unpicking. The upshot was that I needed to establish what I meant by these terms. To go away and read, then perhaps write a blog post. Here is the first; I suspect I may need another … or more!Read More »