Measuring Success with MicroPasts (September 2015)

I’m finalizing an article about the strategies and tactics I use as Project Coordinator for the Smithsonian Transcription Center. I’m specifically reflecting on measuring progress with the TC goal(s) and museum and archive goals. Of course, that  immediately calls to mind this presentation I gave (remotely) as part of the MicroPasts September 2015 Workshop.

For Good Measure

Although I was not able to physically attend the workshop held at the UCL Institute of Archaeology on 23 September 2015, I was delighted to be included in the discussions remotely as we move toward more robust participatory and crowdsourcing programs. Sharing factors of success for each type of project and using these details to overcome the challenges we all face in designing, managing, and improving our projects will only serve to lift all ships.

If you’re interested in more context, you can also explore video from the 31 March 2015 MicroPasts Conference at the Royal Geographic Society; here’s the presentation I made about the Transcription Center during that event.

Smithsonian Transcription Center: Growing as a Community (Blogpost)

The Smithsonian Transcription Center digital volunteers have grown into a community of volunpeers–collaborators dependent on the work and input of the group–in just over a year.

In this post for Smithsonian Institution Archives’ Bigger Picture blog, I explained a bit about the ways the volunpeers report they use the system and how the peer review process and “eyes per page” can be understand and assessed. I’ll share more about the ways volunpeers learn by doing and how the Transcription Center is a dynamic space in which the process is as important as the product. We continue to learn about our volunpeers’ needs and the ways we can make transcription better.

Liveblogging, Fans, & Learning on Tumblr

Here I talk USWNT fans, multimodal communication, liveblogging, and active moments of learning unfolding in a potentially asynchronous manner on Tumblr in my presentation from NASSS 2013 in Quebec City.

More to follow – a quick review of my posts shows I’m missing FOUR of my presentations on my ethnographic research from the last year. YIKES! #mustcatchup

Until then, have a look at my presentation from November’s North American Society for the Sociology of Sport presentation titled “You Must Be New: Becoming Fans & Communicating Values While Defining International Sport Online.” The presentation unpacks the USWNTvCANWNT rivalry that swelled in the final few minutes of the 03 June 2013 fixture between the two teams. Dubbed “The Rematch,” passions were high for fans of both teams – and dual-nationality player Sydney Leroux’s overtime goal lit the powder keg of incendiary debate that followed.

This discussion focused on the collective fiery learning moment, but future discussion will unpack the racialized and gendered discourses in which Leroux was suspended – with emphasis on nation/nationality, assertions of racism and racist chants, the mediated lens of professional sport, and narrative content – and, of course, being “classy” as an athlete and as fans in-person vs online consumption of sport. Watch this space…

Quebec City & NASSS13


Just a glimpse at the cityscape in Quebec City…

More to follow on presenting, presiding, discussing, and developing new research ideas at the annual North American Society for the Sociology of Sport conference #NASSS13 here in Quebec City.

So far, it’s been two days of dynamic conversations, aggregating interest in various topics, and making use of my very dusty French language skills.

If you’re interested in fans and fan behaviors, come join us in the final session of the conference, 2:45-4:15, in the Ste-Foy Suite; many angles of participation and much chat about football (soccer) fans.

I can’t wait to learn more – see you there!

The Economist on Anthropology & Adidas

Last month, The Economist profiled ReD, the design research company that uses anthropologists and researchers to deliver insights for Adidas product and brand development.

ReD Associates, the Copenhagen and NYC-based researching firm, has used a unique combination of ethnographic and applied social science research coupled with business market analysis to inform robust brand development. The Economist article deftly explains the ways in which anthropologists tap into the heart of complex relationships and hidden meanings through participant observation and specific-but-unexpected questions.

What I admire about this company is the way they encourage their researchers (according to the article and their own brand identity materials) to ask different kinds of questions to derive actionable insights. They very accurately describe the complexity of fieldwork and how work in the “messy” environments of people’s lives, emotions, and work results in realistic (and sometimes askew or counter-intuitive) understanding of behavior and belief: they say “we look at people holistically in their environments.”

The kinds of questions that are suggested in the Economist article actually relate to unspoken personal and shared beliefs and tell as much about the cultures in which these people live as their likely brand affiliation and consumer behaviors.

There are five design research tasks described in the article; three relate to collective beliefs. Two of those collective beliefs relate to national identities and collective representation – and their findings linked to traditions and moments of sporting national pride that relate to scientific and political successes (in the U.K. and Russia). These are really fascinating discoveries about collectivity and the ways in which shared cultural history can inform, frame, and sometimes even inhibit brand relationships.

The types of questions we anthropologists might ask in a research environment–or indeed in a social setting–might not immediately make sense or seem to relate to objectives. Why would understanding what would make a great footballer in the future be helpful for improving performance technologies today? Why would knowing that fitness for body composition is as important as sporting prowess for some consumers be useful? These are anthropological ways of investigating and accessing aspirational qualities associated with the values and products of the brands that create outstanding consumer experiences.

If you’re looking for actionable insights through ethnography and grounded research methods, please get in touch – and if you’re an anthropologist, keep turning that rock!