#TheGouge: Principles of Distributed Ethnography with Sonja Blignaut

Sonja explains the fundamental principles of distributed ethnography – self-interpretation and disintermediation – and why they are so important to organizations and decision-makers.

Hey, welcome to #TheGouge with Ponch and Cujo. I’m Ponch, I’m here with Sonja, and today we’re going to talk about the principles of distributed ethnography. Did I get that right?

Yes, I hope I can get it right.

Me too.

So, distributed ethnography is a way of basically giving the power of interpretation back to the storyteller and removing bias. So, there are two fundamental principles. One is self-interpretation. So instead of an analyst interpreting your story, we allow the storyteller to create his own stories, to tell us what he means. And in the second principle, it’s this idea of disintermediation. So, what that means is we want to remove the intermediary layers between the people who need to act on the insights and the raw data. So, we want people who will be making decisions based on the data to have access to the raw stories. And not have multiple layers of analyst interpretation in between. So, we are basically removing bias from the evidence.

Ok, and just one last thing, why is this important to our companies and organizations out there? What do they get out of this? They get the truth, they get to find out what’s really going on in an organization?

They get the truth and they also get multiple perspectives. Because I think what very often happens, if you have bias from an analyst, whether it’s from interpreting the narrative or from creating reports, you basically get the view of a single analyst. And their bias is implicit. If you want to get a distributed view, if you want to have more variety and more diversity in the different perspectives, then this is the way to go.

Fantastic. And that, my friends, is the gouge.


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