16 Feb

Visual / Collage / Authentic / Nostalgia / Manual / Craft


Image made with Collage for iPad. Continuing to think about Digital Ethnography.

From Right:

My notes on the Google Hangout and the books I was reading for MOOCMOOC.

A card sort excercise I led for a new website design.

I was sitting in the dining hall, making notes from my iPad about learning commons, and someone said they ‘liked the mix of technology and old fashioned notes’.

A park I sat in, watching people listen to music, read books, look at their phones, walk their dogs, practice martial arts and have picnics. (We took pictures and posted them on Social Media sites, including Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter).

Students using the Baillieu Library Learning Commons, the University of Melbourne.

13 Feb

Thinking more about Ethnography

NTlanguages App is available from the App store for iPad and iPhone

This week, I looked at some more ethnography research over on my Research Methods blog.

I’m feeling particularly uncomfortable about this task, and I suspect this has something to do with my own cultural position.

I am the daughter of missionaries. By the 1980s, cross-cultural missionaries were highly trained in anthropology, ethnography and cultural sensitivity. That is, my parents were expecting to go to other cultures (first to work with Indigenous Australians in the Northern Territory of Australia, and then in Hong Kong) to work alongside local people, not to Westernize or ‘save’ them. They would learn the language, and build respectful relationships with people, and learn how to behave in these other cultures. Most importantly, they would only go where invited by the local bishop.

I grew up knowing anthropologists, like Judith Stokes and Dr Julie Waddy (also the first woman I knew with a PhD), who spent their whole lives learning the language, and world view, of Anindilyakwa people on Groote Eylandt. We were only there for a year, and yet in that year we learned the language (I was only 8 and my siblings 6 and 2, but the whole family went to weekly lessons). We were given the typical ‘skin name‘, but we were also taught songs and places and totems. My brother returned to Groote over a decade later to help build an early online project with Groote Eylandt Linguistics.

I can’t waltz into a course and do ethnographic research in a couple of weeks. I can do other kinds of observation, MOOCMOOC is a course that takes place intentionally in public and I’m happy to look at it, but I’m not calling it an ethnography.