”Solidrność” / “Solidarity” -a prosaic poem about ethnography

Life has revolved around a whirlwind of deep ethnographic work into the blogosphere.

I have been interviewing people and transcribing those interviews into written records.

Soon I will combine the written transcriptions of the interviews with my partner Kate’s notes.

We will then stir in the various websites, blogs, academic papers, articles, videos, projects, and reports we found in our research.

Soon we begin the steeping, letting the people, processes, and publications stew together.

After they have mashed up nicely we pull out all of our analysis and distillation skills.

We create sieves, filters, and frameworks to hang our nicely laundered data and information on the line to dry.

We carefully comb through the stories our participants shed and begin to weave the larger picture.

When we have woven a beautiful tapestry depicting the landscape from our point of view on this day, we rip it to shreds.

We gnash through our own carefully interlaced meanings and definitions pulling apart the strands of our weaving.

We begin again.

We weave again.

We paint the canvas white and throw the colors at it once again.

Finally we must stop, stand back, and observe what we create.

In the near future we will have to stand behind our work and in front of our peers.

Judgment is coming.
and only our “Solidarity” will stand.

I wonder if I can be useful to you

I’ve been interviewing people throughout the Blogosphere this week. It has been an amazing experience on many levels. It is my first time conducting ethnographic research over the internet and on Monday I conducted my first ever interview over skype. It went swimmingly! I think I just got lucky with a great participant.

Virtual ethnography is a wonderful way to stay in one place physically and yet visit with people all over the globe. It provides us the chance to really expand our exploration and hear some spectacular stories.

I have noticed that many participants do exactly what I do, when researchers come asking for you to be in their study. Whenever I get asked to participate I always say yes, but I always doubt that I will be useful for the research. Its not a self deprecating moment its just kind of a way of creating a disclaimer for whatever information I give them. I don’t want to have wasted anyone else’s time.

Today I had a little eureka moment. In ethnographic work everyone’s opinion counts. It is hyper democratic. You can learn as much from the haters as the lovers. The extreme users and the I’ve-never-touched-it before-in-my-life folks are all equally as important. Ethnographers are story collectors. We are constantly searching for the story that pulls it all together and plugs into the framework. Coincidentally the stories build the framework making this a cyclical and iterative process.

Everyone’s story counts. End of discussion.