Some tips: working with video

Ray McDermott , the American Linguistic Anthropologist, told Fred Erickson from UCLA his two laws of social life:

  • Everyone is busy all the time
  • Everybody is making sense

Our role, working with video or ethnographic observation, is to figure out how they are being busy at and what is the sense they are making?

How do we do that? According to Fred we need to:

  • Remember video, audio, field notes are not data  they are information
  • They are light/sound waves, digital code – bits of what we notice only become data as we connect it to a research question.
  • We are involved in “Data discovery” – we have to ‘find’ the data
  • Re-direct our gaze and revisit our notes or video constantly
  • Stay open – if we go too soon down one line we may miss something – be as deductive as possible
  • Resist temptation to grab onto theory and move toward closure to quickly – Abraham Kaplan: Talked of “the law of the instrument” – get a hammer and what do you know we start to look around for what needs “hammering” – theory can be the same
  • Keep shifting the lens – to keep open the data
  • Stay humble with inferences – as Fred says ‘sit lightly on your analytical categories: Sketch with pencil rather than pen’ rethink, imagine.

Author: Carey Jewitt

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