Digital Ethnography

Today I had the random idea to search YouTube.com for the keyword “ethnography” to see what, if anything, it would come up with. The first two videos that were listed intrigued me. The videos are products of Kansas State University’s anthropology department. The students and faculty of that department have created an on-going project focusing specifically on digital ethnography.

I think this type of project is so exciting and can come up with really interesting results. The videos are short and to the point but can also inspire further research or interest. I myself recently, for the first time, created a short ethnographic video. The analysis done in the video editing stage is valuable practice. There is something about merging, cutting, and pasting video clips together that feels more “hands on” than working in a 2D surface compiling data and writing reports. The results can be seen by a larger audience of people who may not be willing to sit down and read a book-length report on your research. In fact, the video may work well as a tool to get people to want to read further into your research. In the second video, “A Vision of Students Today”, the research team could have compiled their data and analysis in a long detailed report, however, their message is still strongly conveyed in this five minute video. Digital ethnography is definitely going to be an important tool of future research and communication and hopefully more projects like Kansas State University’s are soon implemented at other colleges.

Introduction to the project —

A Vision of Students Today…

There is more information about the project at: http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?p=119

Inter-disciplinary Teams

            This is the first semester of the Engineering for Peoples and Markets Program at Fresno State. The program consists of two teams. Each team consists of two or three engineer majors (computer and electrical), an entrepreneurship major, and an anthropology major. The purpose of our team is to work together on the creation, design, and marketability of a piece of technology created by the engineers for their senior projects. It has been interesting discovering each of our roles within this project, and the experience of working with people trained in different fields has been valuable.  There have definitely been some learning hurdles for me, and things I’m still working on. Some things that I initially saw as hurdles, I’m beginning to realize might be more common than I thought.

            Our project is very dependent on the curriculum of the engineer majors because this is their senior project and they must create a working prototype by the end of the school year in order to graduate. I originally saw this as an obstacle that would only exist in a college program like this one. Due to the attachment of the project to their pending graduation, I felt like the engineers were very cautious, sometimes only focusing on simply getting a very basic working apparatus, rather than a prototype that was more representative of our team’s research and design recommendations. Everything seemed to be contingent on “if we end up commercializing it”, rather than “let’s give this a try”. Their apprehensions are certainly understandable!

Now, as I think about the situation in a different light, I’m thinking this may be a lot closer to what I may experience in the future when working in consultation with other people or companies. Time and resources are always a major concern. Rather than seeing this as an obstacle needing to be removed, I see it as a learning challenge on my part on how to create a good communicative environment with the team and try to represent my research and recommendations in ways that will also include possible solutions on how to address time sensitivity and limited resources. I certainly do not have an answer to this, but it is a constant learning experience for me.

I tried researching “inter-disciplinary teams” online to find out examples of how other teams are working together, at other colleges and within business and organizations. The only articles I could find were regarding inter-disciplinary teams working together within the medical field. I’m wondering if there are other resources where I can find articles relating to this, and examples of how similar programs are operating at other universities.