Ferret mode

Theboom_2 Ethnographers serve in many ways.  We can be especially useful when someone has a business problem but they can’t quite say what the problem is. 

The solution here is to drop the ethnographer into the middle of things and see if he or she can find a way home.  This is "ferret mode."  The corporation says, in effect, come back when you know how we should be thinking about this problem.

This can mean spending lots of time on the phone doing interviews with people inside and outside the corporation.  (Because time is short and corporations are global.)  We are now going to spend many, many hours on the phone. 

There are several things we must have: a comfortable chair, a window to look out of, a laptop for keeping our notes on, a Siamese cat, and of course headphones. 

There is nothing, and I mean nothing, worse than not quite being able to hear.  So we want perfect fidelity, or as close as possible.  Here are the headphones I am using now.  They’re called The Boom for some reason.  They block out all sound and they leave hands free for typing.  They are expensive but they pay back even in the short term. 

Oh, and you can use cats other the Siamese but I don’t find they work nearly as well.  Only Siamese deliver that intelligent, contemplative calm on which the good ethnographer depends.


For more on these headphones, go here.

2 thoughts on “Ferret mode

  1. Katarina Graffman

    If you don’t use the phone it looks something like this doing ethnography in the modern world 🙂

  2. Anthrodiva

    In the reverse, I’d just like to offer that I have become habituated to writing while wearing swimmer’s ear plugs. It really clamps down on ambient distraction (though you can still hear the phone ring) and forces one to concentrate.

    Like the assumptions you keep referring to lately, ambient noise is often not perceived, but can have a destructive impact on focus.

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