The central element of the class is a project that you will conduct, in groups of two or three. This project will occupy most of our attention for the second half of the class, and also be the focus around which methodological and theoretical explorations will be organized. In this project, you will use the techniques discussed in the class to gather, analyze, and present ethnographic materials.

I neither assign groups nor assign project topics. Figuring those out for yourselves is the first problem.

Since we are particularly concerned with technology, your project should probably have something to do with it. This is not, however, my first criterion, and, as we will discuss, the relationship between ethnography and technology is a complex one. It is unlikely that your project will be a technology evaluation, since that is hard to achieve within the framework of this class. However, you might study a technologically-oriented practice, or study a setting into which technology might be introduced. For example, last year's project included a study of the culture of customized cars, a study of software user groups, and a study of how sorority girls organized their closets (with an eye towards developing a "smart closet.")

I am always happy to have people do projects that are related to their broader research interests, although you will have to persuade a partner to work on the project with you, of course. Your project should involve data collection as well as analysis. Given the constraints of the quarter system, we need to be able to get down to work on the project pretty quickly. It would be as well, then, if you have some idea in mind for how to get access to a field site. We can discuss this, although negotiating access is going to be part of your challenge.

The project will furnish materials for in-class analysis. For most of the quarter, presuming that all goes well, at least one class per week will be a "data session" in which one group brings some material (field notes, interview transcripts, and/or memos) for collective discussion, or presents an analysis in progress. Doing these group data sessions not only provides you with input on your project from other perspectives, but also helps you see how others are grappling with similar problems.

A detailed report on your project will be due at the end of the quarter, and will be the primary focus for evaluation.

Please note: in order to conduct your research project, you should have taken the IRB "C" tutorial on human subjects research. This is a prerequisite for any proposal for research that will involve humans as research subjects. You can take the tutorial as a "visitor" to learn the material, but you must take it for credit before the class starts. You can find the tutorial at the RGS web site. (Take the test marked "Human Research Tutorial.")