Extreme Documentation on Ethnography


Big Data was one of the hottest topics in 2012, and probably will keep trending for sometime.

Maybe what make people so exited about it is the numerical proof of things we sometimes “feel” happening, but have a hard time explaining how we came to this conclusion.

At this post Andy Polaine talks about “Self ethnography and the quantified life”, referring to the vast range of products and apps helping people to have an Excel view of their own existence. He also links Gary Wolf’s talk “The Quantified Self” discussing how easy is to document our daily lives and how it have being changing the way people behave.

This week I came across this TED talk from the MIT researcher Deb Roy shows how he used powerful cameras, microphones and data servers to turn his house into a laboratory (Big Brother style). He fully documented in audio and video the whole process of how his newborn learned to speak. Amazing!

But where does it lead us? Are we close to a time where qualitative and quantitative data collection can turn our world in a high-tech version of Kitchen Stories?


It can be frightening depending on your techno-phobia levels, but can kids who were born with their Facebook profiles care much about having their live documented 24/7? I guess they gonna love it!

Furthermore, I dare to say that somewhere out there someone is already trying this kind of extreme approach with a business/innovation focus.