I’ve decided to move on. I may still do some ethnography-related podcasts and I’m still quite involved in social media. But this is the final episode of Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast.
One reason I’m “podfading” is that I’m getting more opportunities to discuss things through other social media. Moving on from this podcast is a way to focus on other things. Not that it was time-consuming or that it required a lot of effort. But it did what it had to do.
I learnt a fair amount through the experience. Not that most of this learning experience can apply to other people or other projects, but as an experiment, it worked.
If I were to do it again, I might set it up so that other people are involved from the start. In fact, if I can, I’ll probably create a new podcast, based on having some other people on board.
Another thing I might do differently is set up a separate WordPress install through my own webhost, instead of using WordPress.com. A major advantage of WordPress.com is that it offers a well-packaged system, with reasonable upload limits. And it’s very inexpensive. But I might as well put things on The Internet Archive, and control the whole platform, especially since I’ve been dealing with a few WordPress installations and know what’s involved.
What I’ve learnt through the experience, though, has less to do with technical issues and more to do with my career plans. When I created this podcast, I wanted to make a conscious effort to put social media at the centre of my professional life. I had already been quite active in social media for a few years. But, until then, social media activities weren’t really part of my professional life.
In some ways, the main lesson has been about the value of separating professional and personal activities and identities. The podcast itself didn’t become a huge part of my online identity. But it helped separate “Alex, the Informal Ethnographer” from “Enkerli, the Disparate Blogger.”
As time went on, I eventually starting writing blogposts about teaching. While these weren’t about ethnography per se, it seemed to fit more directly here than on my main blog. Still a loose fit, but it made sense in my crude “personal/professional” categorization.
Since then, I’ve actually created a simple site (an installation of BuddyPress) meant to serve as a place to discuss learning and teaching, in connection with social media (hence the “Learning 2.0” idea, based on the “Web 2.0” coined by Darcy DiNucci at O’Reilly). On that site, I created a number of separate blogs, including some meant purely for testing purposes (using the “sandbox” idea). But I’ve been posting things on my individual blog there. Haven’t reallly been advertising it but I’m already receiving some useful feedback.
One thing I’m trying to do with that learning/teaching blog is to “contribute to the conversation” by adding links to diverse blogs. Some of my blogposts there are meant as replies to other people’s own blogposts. Also, because these blogposts are related to my teaching activities, they’re a way to “think out loud” about teaching. In fact, I might import some teaching-related blogposts from my main blog. At this specific point in time, it sounds like blogging about teaching may be part of what I do. Not that I’m switching from ethnography to teaching (both remain very important, to me, no matter what). But I seem to be shifting my focus a bit, whether or not I realize it.
After creating this podcast and building my online identity as an “informal ethnographer,” I’ve had the opportunity to do a bit of work related to social media. Just a few key contracts, from the very simple and short to an elaborate project lasting several months. These contracts have confirmed a few things about my work and helped me clear up a few things. All of them have been part of a learning experience. And I’ve been meaning to blog about them… 😉
One thing which was clear from the beginning is that my strengths are in the social dimensions of social media. What wasn’t clear, though, is that practical and technical issues often come in the way, making this type of work more difficult.
If I am to think more about my skills and expertise, I notice several things having to do with my work life:
- I love working with people. Either through collaboration or in diverse roles, from consultant to teacher.
- My personality is part of my work and that’s ok. No more “impostor syndrome.”
- Feeling good about the work I do is key. This includes satisfaction with the quality of my work, stimulation from that work, and comfort in doing that work.
- I’m a “Jack of All Trades” and I’m proud of it. In many ways, I’m no expert, and that should be alright.
- While my skills aren’t unique, the combination might be.
- It’s actually not too hard to juggle a few projects at the same time as long as I feel good with what I do.
- It’s better to focus on projects or activities where my contributions are likely to be unique than to accept any kind of work just because I can do it.
- I don’t necessarily require job security, at this point.
- There are some actual positions I could fulfill rather well.
- Life’s good when we’re open to diverse possibilities.
But enough about me…
There are many interesting podcasts, out there, though it hasn’t been easy finding some which are really compatible with ethnography. Among exceptions are some podcasts hosted by sociologists.
One is BBC’s Thinking Allowed, hosted by former York sociologist Laurie Taylor. The show often covers ethnographic issues and research, though Taylor made a surprising comment recently to the effect that people “still” did ethnography. Guess he meant it as a comment on sociology specifically.
Another one is Sociology Improv, hosted by graduate students in sociology at University of Minnesota. As might be expected, they talk about sociology in general, not about the ethnographic dimension of sociology. But it frequently addresses things which are shared issues among several ethnographic disciplines.
Apart from podcasts, there are many ways to spot ethnography online. One is the Open Anthropology Cooperative (OAC), a Ning site with an impressive number of members, including a few very active ones.
Another place is Twitter. In fact, it seems that the OAC was started through Twitter conversations. There are several lists of ethnographers on Twitter, including one I created through my IEthnographer account,
And, I insist, don’t be strangers. There are multiple ways to contact me. You can find much of my contact info on this “online business card” I created recently. You can also email me here, contact me through @IEthnographer on Twitter and on Identi.ca, or just do a search for my last name (Enkerli).
As I often say at the end of a semester: “If I don’t see you again, please have a good life!”