Ethnographic Research

Paolo Friere, the Brazian educator once told me, “education design is 90% intiution and 10% research, but you have to spend 90% of your time researching to make sure your intuition is correct, because if it’s not, then you miss your mark entirely and accomplish nothing.”

I think that moment with such a great educator articulated my passion. An ideal setting, comming up with ideas and then conducting research to see how they could be improved or improve the user’s life. Ah, that is the life.

I found this beautiful description of ethnographic research
“rather than studying people, enthnography means learning from people”

Microsoft and Intel sponsored a conference last year Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference. The mission statement says,
“By understanding people; what they do, how they do it, and how these change over time, we can create better corporate strategies, processes, and products, as well as enhance and simplify people’s lives.”

My introduction to ethnographic research started by listening to folk singer Pete Segeer. He talked about John and Alan Lomax who were ethnomusicologist. They went around the country recording folk music and catologued it for the Smithsonian.

Later, I was introduced to the work of Margaret Mead. Then in 1980 I Directed the the National Literacy Campaign for Northern Managua. In addition to teaching the workers how to read and write, own mandate was also to learn from them and document as best we could what we learned.


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