Assignment 2: Hacking Ethnography

Due date
May 17, 15:00

Working in groups of up to four students, you will design and produce a contribution to a collection of public-facing resources on the theme of Hacking Ethnography. Your contribution can take one of several forms:

  1. An instructional video (for instance, to show how to use a certain tool to secure research data).
  2. A zine (for instance, to provide guidelines for how to protect the identities of your research participants).
  3. A curated list of resources (for instance, to help qualitative researchers understand potential risks of data-saturated environments).

Regardless which format you choose, try to create your resource in such a way that it will be useful to others like you wondering what kinds of practices they can adopt in the course of ethnographic research to protect research participants, secure data, and otherwise ensure that their research is ethical. We will discuss possible topics during tutorials in week 4.

When you have created your resource, choose a Creative Commons license under which to release your work into the public.

Instructional Video

Create a video that conveys a useful skill for ethnographers in 4–9 minutes. Aim to make an engaging and concise video that (1) incorporates visual cues highlighting important information, (2) uses minimal text, and (3) has some personality!

You can find a rushed (i.e., poorly made) example here. You can definitely do better!

Once you have chosen a Creative Commons license for your video, upload it to archive.org, the university’s Kaltura site, or a PeerTube instance like TubEdu. Submit the public link through Brightspace.

Zine

Zines are a self-published format with a DIY aesthetic. They usually consist of literally cut-and-pasted texts and graphics, and traditionally they have been reproduced using copying machines. Zines have been associated with a variety of subcultures, such as the punk scene of the seventies and riot grrrl scene of the nineties.

ABC No Rio, a cultural institution in New York that archives zines, has the following advice for “new zinesters”:

Look at a variety of zines before starting out on one of your own, to really take your time with the layout, and to think about how your zine might be different, depending on where you are in the world: does it have a sense of PLACE? Be specific and descriptive. … Just to let you know, there are a LOT of punk rock zines out there, so if you’re doing one, go the extra mile to make yours stand out.

You can find lots of examples of zines created through the ages on archive.org. For additional inspiration, look at the zines created by Nika Dubrovsky and Julia Evans. You may also want to build on a template (though that may not exactly help with standing out).

After choosing a Creative Commons license for your zine, submit it, preferably as a single PDF, through Brightspace. Making hard copies to distribute to your friends is optional but encouraged!

Curation

What do we mean by curation? Allow us to quote liberally from this resource:

When a museum director curates, she collects artifacts, organizes them into groups, sifts out everything but the most interesting or highest-quality items, and shares those collections with the world. When an editor curates poems for an anthology, he does the same thing.

The process can be applied to all kinds of content: A person could curate a collection of articles, images, videos, audio clips, essays, or a mixture of items that all share some common attribute or theme. When we are presented with a list of the “Top 10” anything or the “Best of” something else, what we’re looking at is a curated list. Those playlists we find on Spotify and Pandora? Curation. “Recommended for You” videos on Netflix? Curation. The news? Yep, it’s curated. In an age where information is ubiquitous and impossible to consume all at once, we rely on the curation skills of others to help us process it all.

The idea is to bundle resources that can address a concrete need or question an ethnographer might have. Your curation shouldn’t just be a grab bag of resources, but should be integrated into a cohesive whole that presents an argument. You can also think of the curation as a “syllabus” for self-study about a certain concept or skill (see here for inspiration).

Present your curation as a self-contained website using images, hyperlinks, and text. You can build such a site using TiddlyWiki or Domino, but you are free to use other tools. Clearly state your site’s Creative Commons license. You can choose to either submit the files for site itself (in the case of both TiddlyWiki and Domino, it’s just a single HTML file), or publish it on the web, for instance at Neocities, and then submit the public link.