There is not much to report in “This Week in Ethnography”, a segment I am inventing as a means of reporting on the global pulse of this most important subject. The one item that jumped out of my feeds at me was that I missed the application deadline (of July 22, 2012) for the:
Second Digital Ethnography Week _ Trento 17-21 sept. 2012
The second “Digital Ethnography Week” (DEW), an intensive week focused on the study of digital methods and digital ethnographic approaches. The DEW is intended for Ph.D. students and researchers interested in developing advanced methodological skills to account for the digital in contemporary social life.
As their website reports, this looks like a great opportunity for aspiring digital ethnographers.
Be warned: The Data Journalism School in Rome is involved in this effort. I know the conflation of ethnography and journalism is shocking to some. During my graduate training, I recall one of the senior faculty members of my anthropology program criticizing a students’ work by referring to it as “journalism”. The context for this event was a thesis draft presentation based on ethnographic fieldwork in a doctoral colloquium. I believe the Professor’s intention was to imply that the student was “only out for a story” and had “little theoretical or methodological reasoning” for how they had generated the data they were reporting on.
The irony of this situation was that this was a program in applied anthropology. In any event, let us not “throw the baby out with the bath water” or in this case, throw good data or solid technique out with the researcher using it. Data Journalism is a fantastic means of getting at reality. For example, check out the following TED talk by David McCandless: The beauty of data visualization and try to tell me that this “journalist” is “only out for the story”.