“Culture” in the Science Fictional Universe of “Big Data”

As the Obama Administration’s new “Big Data Research and Development Initiative” has made clear, the “big data” era is officially upon us. The term – “big data” has been used in multiple ways, but most generally refers to the avalanche of “raw data” generated by the internet and other new kinds of data-capturing sensor and … Continue reading “Culture” in the Science Fictional Universe of “Big Data”

An HTS Debate

An experience I’ve been meaning to share since the end of December concerns the Human Terrain System (HTS). Dr. Henry Delcore at California State University, Fresno, invited me to act as a judge for a class debate. The question of debate was, "Should the American Anthropological Association (the main professional organization for anthropologists in the … Continue reading An HTS Debate


I had the opportunity to attend the 2008 EPIC conference in Copenhagen, Denmark last October. A hot topic there was the use of “Personas” in usability research, with the idea that it was an effective and quick way to communicate the results of the research to the client. Personas are fictional characters developed as a … Continue reading Personas

Interdisciplinary Project Update

As I described in one of my previous blogs, I am part of an inter-disciplinary research team at Fresno State University. Our team is comprised of three computer engineering students, a business student, and myself, an anthropology student. As part of their senior project, the engineers are developing a proto-type piece of technology. Our team … Continue reading Interdisciplinary Project Update

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, … Continue reading Inter-disciplinary Teams

Teaching Anthropologists to count

Ok, maybe not just anthropologists, but there should be something here for about everyone. The Social Science Statistics Blog is a collective blog from the Institute for Quantitative Social Science at Harvard University. They are described as a “series of hallway conversations on the site, and it is a pretty range of topics ranging from … Continue reading Teaching Anthropologists to count

What Clowning Teaches about Rapport

A clown is a poet that is also an orangutan - Attributed to various people. One key to a good ethnographic interview is the ability to gain rapport with the person you are talking to. Rapport can be a mysterious thing, you are a stranger talking to another stranger asking questions and often taking a … Continue reading What Clowning Teaches about Rapport