From Drinking Games: Annals of Anthropology by Malcolm Gladwell…
“It is not anthropologists who recognize the value of what they’ve done. It’s everyone else. The anthropologist is just reporting.”
It’s been quite a while since I’ve written here. Below is a compilation of thoughts, methodologies and uses of ethnographic research (sources follow)…
“Ethnography means, literally, a picture of the “way of life” of some identifiable group of people…[the] anthropologist’s purpose as ethnographer was to learn about, record, and ultimately portray the culture of this other group.” (Wolcott p.156)
“Ethnographic research, in much the same way, gets below the surface and challenges assumptions made regarding a variety of topics. In challenging basic assumptions, doing ethnographic research is like peeling an onion. As you peel back the layers of an onion, you discover there is yet more to be seen.” (NPS)
“Ethnography, simply stated, is the study of people in their own environment through the use of methods such as participant observation and face-to-face interviewing. As anthropologist H. Sidky suggests, ethnography documents cultural similarities and differences through empirical fieldwork and can help with scientific generalizations about human behavior and the operation of social and cultural systems (2004:9). Because anthropology as a discipline is holistic (meaning it looks at the past, present and future of a community across time and space), ethnography as a first hand, detailed account of a given community or society attempts to get a comprehensive understanding of the circumstances of the people being studied. Ethnographers, then, look at and record a people’s way of life as seen by both the people and the anthropologist; they take an emic (folk or inside) and etic (analytic or outside) approach to describing communities and cultures.” (NPS)
“Ordinarily an outsider to the group being studied, the ethnographer tries harder to know more about the cultural system he or she is studying than any individual who is a natural participant in it, at once advantaged by the outsider’s broad and analytical perspective but, by reason of that same detachment, unlikely ever totally to comprehend the insider’s point of view. The ethnographer walks a fine line. With too much distance and perspective, one is labeled aloof, remote, insensitive, superficial; with too much familiarity, empathy, and identification, one is suspected of having “gone native.” Successful ethnographers resolve that tension between involvement and detachment”. (Wolcott p.157)
National Park Service U.S. Department of the Interior . Ethnographic Research Center. <http://www.nps.gov/ethnography/aah/aaheritage/ERCa.htm>
Wolcott, Harry F. Expanding Perspectives: Qualitative Research in Higher Education. Pearson Education, Des Moines, IA. 1997.
LinkTV News approached Method, Inc. to create the identity and interactive model for an iPad application. The challenge was to identify a way to create a curated experience while still providing the user with the feeling of exploration.
The objective of the mobile application is to create an event, invite your friends, connect with new people, and finally, to view the content—as it is happening—by time, profile, or place (map).
The purpose of this application is to share ‘annotated walks’ with friends. A user can trace a route on a map, drop pins along the way, and then add notes and photographs to add interesting facts and visuals. After the route is created, a user can save and send it to a friend.
Please visit my new portfolio site at:
The MassArt Made embedded storySystem installation as implemented for the Store’s Grand Opening on Tuesday, April 12, 2011 uses a variety of cutting-edge technologies and systems to magically correlate an artist’s voice with merchandise sold in the store. A visitor to MassArt Made can pick up an ‘Artist Card’ next to certain, select sale items in the store and scan in a QR Code ( QR = ‘quick response’ ) on the card into the storyScanner to trigger and play a corresponding 30 second audio clip posted out on the MassArt Made website. The artist tells a story about their artwork, thus providing new context to the piece through an aural trace back to the artist. The stories engage the entire captive audience of shoppers in the MassArt Made store location in a unique, new way that connects story to object, voice to product, and ultimately visitors to the stores more directly to the collective vocal history of MassArt’s amazingly rich students, alumni and faculty.
created with BXOS !nteractive + Most Wanted Consultants
Boston Magazine ShopTalk: MassArt Made
Stuff Magazine Art-school cool
reMap is a proposal for an iPhone application. The project was inspired by the French philosopher Guy Debord whose theory of psychogeography was to “[invent] strategies for exploring cities…just about anything that takes pedestrians off their predictable paths and jolts them into a new awareness of the urban landscape.” (Debord)
A user walks according to a previous users directions and geotags their photographs and then leaves directions for the next user resulting in a collaborative and unpredictable ground level mapping project.
The project began by coming up with an algorithm to explore the urban environment by walking and photographing a participants surroundings. Each participant (over thirty people) was asked to walk the following directions from any starting point in their city: 1) walk west 2) take your first right 3) take your first left 4) take your first right 5) stop. These were the only restrictions. A participant was then encouraged to take photographs at any point along their walk. Some of the cities covered were: Boston, Paris, Auckland, Santiago de Chile, and Tokyo.
Mapkin was shown at the exhibition ‘Provocative Objects’ at MassArt in November, 2010. The interaction was very simple. I created an area for a person to draw a map of the world on a napkin, take a picture of it using the webcam, and enter it into a projected slideshow (thanks to Pol Pla i Conesa and Alex Wang). I collected over one hundred hand-drawn maps that represented the unique perspectives of the mapmaker and their knowledge of geography.