How we do ethnography: digital worlds

Tuesday 29 April at RMIT, DERC, Melbourne 

Jo Tacchi and Débora Lanzeni present two case studies of ethnographic research concerning the production and consumption of digital technologies at The Digital Ethnography Center of the RMIT, in Melbourne.

Jo Tacchi will speak about the Digital Rhythms project, and how an ethnographic approach is being applied in a study into the way that digital media and technology is transforming the lives of everyday Australians. Conducted by researchers from DERC in collaboration with KPMG, the project is revealing the kind of insights that are not possible through more common market research approaches such as surveys. Jo will discuss some of these insights into the ways in which digital media and content is used across diverse households. The research explores some of the ways that people of different ages and backgrounds think and feel about how digital media is changing the way that they live and their relationships with others.

Debora Lanzeni will discuss her research for the Smart City project which examines the various labs that are producing new technologies such as Internet of Things, Sensors and 3D printing both in companies and makerspaces in Barcelona. Situated at the intersection of design, anthropology and innovation (Suchman 2012), this project will explore how ethnographic research can elucidate the ideas various social actors have about what they do/make, definitions of innovation and visions about the future.

Jo Tacchi is a Professor in the School of Media and Communication, and Director of Research in the College of Design and Social Context. She is an expert in media anthropology and communication for development and has developed innovative uses of ethnography for applied research, including ethnographic action research (www.ear.findingavoice.org). Tacchi’s early media ethnography of radio and domestic soundscapes remains one of a few fully-fledged ethnographic accounts of media audiences. Her recent publications include Evaluating Communication for Development: A Framework for Social Change (Oxford: Routledge, 2013).

Debora Lanzeni is a PhD candidate and junior researcher at IN3 (Internet Interdisciplinary Institute) Program of Knowledge and Information Society. An anthropologist by training, Debora’s research focuses upon understanding how digital technology and its processes of creation, imagination and production are being made from an ethnographic perspective. She is interested in material culture and moral order. She is also a trained filmmaker, and works with visual and digital anthropology.

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