iPhone App for ethnographic research

By Siamack Salari

A few weeks ago I was sitting by the school pool watching my twins learning to swim. Next to me sat a dad whose line of work was IT. We talked gadgets, toys and cars before I finally ventured to test his boredom threshold with a full description of our new iPhone App.

I explained that it would allow as-live collaboration for field anthropologists/ethnographers, tagged video, still, audio and text capture, co-discoveries and more. All on an iPhone. He sat transfixed, much to my pleasant surprise, before saying:

"So let me get this straight, your App will enable people like me whose private information, habits, purchases, etc. are of such huge value to large companies to capture and sell my habits and behaviours?"

It was my turn to sit transfixed.

"Wow!" he exhaled, "that's awesome."

"Well, that's not quite what I had in mind for it but I suppose people could download it to their devices (not just iPhone) and use it to sell private information on demand. But I didn't develope it for that..."

My friend was not interested in ethnography. He had seen something completely different in this App. And I wonder, if it ever takes off, whether it will be thanks to anthropologists, ethnographers and sociologists.

I would be grateful for any comments on the above clip.

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