Digital Ethnography Tools at SSRC

Traditionally, when an ethnographer left the confines of the academic world and ventured out into the field she was armed with only a notebook and pencil—maybe not even a number two pencil at that. Even in these early days of visual observation and note-taking, an ethnographer required specific types of tools in order to record her observations. Today, the need for a specific toolset is no different; however, technology has changed and the possible list of tools available to the researcher has become practically limitless.

After patiently enduring all the difficult work of gaining entrance and establishing relationships, a researcher, now thoroughly immersed in the culture, must be confident that he has brought along the right tools to observe social interactions, people, and places. When an ethnographer arrives in the field to begin the work of gathering information about everyday life, he uses all of his senses. Although nothing can replace the physical senses or the personal interaction of the pencil-to-paper thinking process, in our digital age researchers can take advantage of technology that can replicate the senses and enhance the data gathering process.

Observing the world, recording culture, and documenting society can take many forms (photographs, audio recordings, video recordings) and require several different media formats; deciding on which can be a difficult task. To this end the SSRC takes pride in being able to offer high-quality digital audio and video recording technology to researchers who engage in all types of research and data presentation. Whatever your needs are—recording interviews, audio or visual documentation, or digital software—we have taken great care in selecting high-quality instruments (hardware and software) and designing packages that are effective, dependable, and easy to navigate to aid you in your observation, data collection, and analysis process.

Being in the field doesn’t require the most expensive equipment or instruments of the highest precision; however, it is extremely important that the tools you choose are of high quality and dependable. In this digital age you must be confident that your equipment can record your observations and provide data that can be analyzed—although we do have high-quality paper and dependable pencils if those are your preferred tools.

Whatever your needs may be we are happy to consult and offer assistance.

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