To decipher consumers' needs, corporate ethnographers review countless Youtube clips and read scads of blogs. "Viewing a film about the Yanomamo tribe in the Amazon rain forest in Anthropology 101 is like seeing a Youtube clip where a little kid in Peoria is sticking marshmallows in his face," Robbie business anthropologist Blinkoff says in The Baltimore Sun.
And by following Flickr an anthropologist can "see what tools people use on a daily level," as well as how their living arrangements in the same room may change over the course of several years, our fellow anthro-blogger Kambiz Kamrani says:
As consumers around the world proactively post to their blogs, stream if not lead parts of their lives online, virtual anthropologists now vicariously 'live' amongst them, at home, at work, out on the streets.
UPDATE: Kambiz Kamrani has blogged about this in the meanwhile: I've been quoted in the Baltimore Sun's "Common realities"
Great new initiatives: Kerim Friedman has set up a wiki to promote free access to anthropology journal articles and papers - Open Access Anthropology. It is located at http://openaccessanthropology.org/ This wiki explains: What is open access? Why should anthropologists care about open access? Why does the American Anthropological Association oppose open access?What can we do to promote open access anthropology?
He has also created a discussion list for Open Access issues. It on Google Groups which means one can read it on the web, via RSS, or you can sign up to get it via e-mail. "Please help spread the word!", hew writes:
At Savage Minds there are several new posts on Open Access:
Open Access in San Jose (AAA annual meeting)
Savage Minds: Please sign the Open Access Anthropology Letter
At Savage Minds: AAA Open Access T-shirts
Savage Minds: Open Access Anthropology: what you can do
Erkan Saka, one of the most active blogging anthropologists, has published his paper Blogging as a Research Tool for Ethnographic Fieldwork that he presented at the annual conference of the Association of Internet Researchers in Brisbane six weeks ago.
The paper is a good introduction into the topic. It was inspired by recent discussions on anthropology blogs.
His main points:
- Blogging occupies an interesting place between the personal and the public. The moment one starts blogging, s/he becomes public.
- Blogging brings immediate feedback; not only from the limited scholarly circles but from a wider public/audience which in turn exposes exposes the ethnographer to a much more effective issue of accountability.
- Moreover, blogging urges to see motives in a more regular sense, thus creates a strong sense of regularity that forces the ethnographer to produce on a regular basis which in turn produces a constant appeal to narrate what would normally remain fragments of field notes.
- Finally, blogging might be a remedy to the anxiety of being in 'after the fact' that is shared by many anthropologists. Blogging takes place in the present tense while actively engaging with 'the fact', with the emergent phenomena unlike the later edited institutionally accepted monographs most of which become outdated.
In this paper, Erkan Saka also compares blogging to traditional journalism and reviews relevant literature on blogging.
Anthropologist Jesse de Leon shares some of his results from his field work among Filipino bloggers and their expression of Filipino identity on blogs.
He found five major categories of Filipino bloggers: Cosmopolitans, the Philippine Elite, Im/migrants, Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos, and Younger Filipinos in the Philippines. They blog about different topics. The way he used linking in his research has especially caught my attention. You somehow express your identity the way you use links on your blog.
Jesse de Leon writes:
Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos rarely link to blogs written by the preceding groups nor leave comments. More than the other groups, these Filipino bloggers discuss race and ethnicity. Im/migrants also discuss such things, but these topics seem especially relevant to the Second Generation, judging by how much they blog about race and ethnicity. I’ve noticed the same in my interviews.
Finally come Younger Filipinos in the Philippines. Generally, they don’t link to blogs written by Second Generation Diasporic Filipinos, even though they’re the same age and often have similar interests. They’re far more likely to link to blogs written by the other groups.
He has also published his first outline of his thesis. Very impressive. I wish I was so organised... (sometimes at least...)
Some papers are now freely available:
The online nomads of cyberia (PDF, 337 Kb)
Alexander Knorr (Ludwig-Maximilians-Universitaet Muenchen)
Foreign correspondents/ foreign news production (PDF, 260 Kb)
Angela Dressler (University of Bremen)
Game pleasures and media practices (PDF, 160 Kb)
Elisenda Ardèvol, Antoni Roig, Gemma San Cornelio, Ruth Pagès and Pau Alsina (Universitat Oberta de Catalunya)
Finding our subject: media practice, structure and communication (PDF, 240 Kb)
Daniel Taghioff (School of Oriental and African Studies)
Anne Kirah, a senior Microsoft anthropologist, says IT staff believe they’re supporting workplace productivity by limiting private use of the Net. But they may be doing the opposite. Companies that filter Internet access or block IM communications are going to find it harder to hang on to staff, she told at a recent conference.
In an interview with the APC Magazine, Kirah talks about how this new generation of employees is turning the traditional notion of productivity on its head. They’re using the Net to stay in touch with their social circle and do personal tasks during work hours, but also logging on and working from home after hours. For them, the 9-5 work day no longer applies and IT managers may be dealing with nothing short of a revolution that’s based on universal availability of Net access:
The conflict arises because the employers’ benchmarks of productivity are based on something that doesn’t exist anymore. In the old world we measured productivity by just sitting your butt down 9 to 5. We were coming to work 9 to 5, what else would you do at work except work? (...)
I think the whole point is that there’s a cultural change going on. We’ve really moved from this 9-5 world to ‘just give me the deadlines and I’ll decide when I want to do it’…
This is especially true for the younger generation, she says:
What’s happening is that society has placed a lot of limits on children today. We don’t have free play any more, it’s gone. So free play has gone onto the Net. (...) What’s happened in the world today is that activities after school are all orchestrated by adults. There’s always an adult in there somewhere. (...) In terms of the social, in terms of the child-to-child, the internet is Mecca; this is the place where they can be.
Another interview with Anne Kirah: Lead design anthropologist (Monsters and Critics)
E-mail is so last millennium. Young people see it as a good way to reach an elder - a parent, teacher or a boss - or to receive an attached file. But email is increasingly losing favor to instant and text messaging, according to an ap-article:
Much like home postal boxes have become receptacles for junk mail, bills and the occasional greeting card, electronic mailboxes have become cluttered with spam. That makes them a pain to weed through, and the problem is only expected to worsen as some e-mail providers allow online marketers to bypass spam filters for a fee. Beyond that, e-mail has become most associated with school and work.
When immediacy is a factor - as it often is - most young people much prefer the telephone or instant messaging for everything from casual to heart-to-heart conversations, according to research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project.
Boyd says, young people have developped skills for chatting with "a bazillion people at once". They understand how to negotiate the interruptions a lot better than adults.
Anne Kirah, design anthropologist at Microsoft, even thinks young people's brains work differently because they've grown up with IM, making them more adept at it.
Companies really need to respond to the way people work and communicate. The focus, she says, should be the outcome:
"Nine to 5 has been replaced with 'Give me a deadline and I will meet your deadline,'" Kirah says of young people's work habits. "They're saying 'I might work until 2 a.m. that night. But I will do it all on my terms.'"
(via Livejournal Anthropology Community) Jesse de Leon, Master’s student in Social Anthropology, has started blogging on his research on Filipino bloggers - a very interesting blog about migration, transnationalism, identity and internet research. In his second post he explains:
I’m what’s known as a 1.5 generation immigrant: someone who immigrated as a child old enough to remember the country they were born in. In my case, I immigrated to Canada from the Philippines when I was ten years old. I consider myself as having grown up in both countries. I know that if I had grown up entirely in the Philippines, I would be a different person than what I am today.
It’s therefore understandable that I’m interested in issues of migration, transnationalism, and identity. I’m particularly interested in what identity is like for other Filipinos who have migrated. Do they consider themselves as being completely Filipino? Or do they see themselves as being Canadians now (or American, or Australian, or so on)?
Now, this is all well and good, but lots of other people have examined these issues. What am I doing that’s new? Well, I’m investigating Filipino migration and identity, but I’m investigating them through blogs. Specifically, I’m looking at how Filipino bloggers talk about these issues. I’m also looking at how Filipino bloggers don’t talk about these issues.