Fieldwork Part 2: Hemophilia

Coming out of the field, two themes emerged again and again from our research: the idea of rite of passage and the importance of control. Rites of passage in adulthood serve as a symbolic transition into a new state of being, with certain responsibilities, actions, benefits, and social roles. In the case of non-compliant sufferers […]

Technicolor Malt Liquor and All-Night Fieldwork

In its original formulation, Sparks was one of the first alcoholic beverages to contain caffeine. Its other original active ingredients included taurine, ginseng, and guarana, the backbone ingredients of traditional energy drinks. It also contained 6% alcohol. Packaged in a can that looked like a AAA battery, its labeling boldly and loudly stated all of […]

Taking Clients Along for the Ride

In the last few years, ethnography has shifted from a novel and often misunderstood methodology to a do-it-or-die necessity in many marketers’ and product designers’ tool kits. The idea of ethnography has a logical appeal for business clients; market intelligence born from the homes and hearts of customers. It’s an ethnographer’s job to talk to […]

Doing Microethnography

Microethnography is a powerful method of research for studying practices in dynamic social systems where interactions reproduce unexplored or poorly understood conditions. It is a powerful intervention for discovering, making visible, or getting at what is happening as it happens in the interactions. Analyzing moment-to-moment interactions enables a better understanding of practices and expectations in […]

Video as a Replacement to the Ethnographer

Video is one of the most important and effective ways of communicating research findings. As such, video is often used to convey participant stories and communicate ethnographic findings. Increasingly, video has become a substitute for note taking and in some case, it has essentially been billed as a cheap, quick alternative to fieldwork. But it […]

Ethnographers vs. Moderators: Know What You Are Buying

The other day I was speaking with someone about ethnography and was informed by the person in question that she too was a “moderator.” She, of course, practiced ethnography, such as it is, and informed me she had been “moderating ethnographies” for years.  Yes, it made my skin crawl. Not because someone was crossing disciplinary […]

Excerpt from Quirk’s Article: Recruiting

From an article I just published in Quirk’s on recruiting by the researchers: http://www.quirks.com/articles/2011/20110926-1.aspx The gist is fundamentally simple — recruiting isn’t something you hand off, it’s part of the process. Define the contexts  Where does an activity or practice take place? Defining the contexts we want to examine helps articulate the range of possibilities […]

Why Recruit In The Field?

We often turn to recruiters go find our participants.  A screener is built, a company hired and two weeks later we show up on someone’s doorstep with camera in hand. Of course this is a practical reality of timeframes and budgets, but it means losing opportunities to expand and improve the research we do.  Recruiting […]

3 Things to ALWAYS consider in your fieldwork

There are always too many things to think about in the field. So the key to making it work out is to categorize and develop a model before you go out.  This model will, of course, be different for everyone but these are three buckets that usually help people ground their research. NORMS Cultural norms […]