Carla Borsoi is a new contributor to Ethnography Matters. This month, she’s sharing her summer reading list in the Ethnographer’s Reading List series. One of my favorite books about the history of the internet is on her list, Fred Turner’s From Counterculture to Cyberculture: Stewart Brand, the Whole Earth Network, and the Rise of Digital Utopianism. I’ve always been interested in Carla’s work because her work with industry has always been tied to producing insights with qualitative research. After spending five years at Ask.com, she is currently the VP of Consumer Insights at AOL where she gets to drive product and marketing strategy for mail and mobile products by drawing on a combination of qualitative and quantitative research methods, digging into web analytics, measuring marketing effectiveness, and monitoring social media. We’ll have to interview Carla in depth in soon about how she uses qualitative research at AOL. You can find more about Carla on her website or if you have questions for Carla, send her a tweet!
I love summer. I love reading. I maintain an ongoing reading list on GoodReads, which means that there is never a lack of content to consume. Next year, my eldest will be attending high school. We got her summer reading list and I was surprised to see some books that have been languishing on my to-read list. Then, as Ethnography Matters has put together other people’s summer reading lists, it was inspiration to smash these all together and create a list of must-reads by August.
While books directly related to research and methodology can be interesting, what’s more compelling is what comes after the data collection. How do you tell a story with data? How do you suck people in and get them to internalize what has been learned? What can we predict for the future? To that end, this list is comprised of books that cover this topic in various guises.
1. Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip Heath & Dan Heath
This is actually a re-read, but is hands down the best book on using storytelling that I’ve read. It’s nice to revisit and take the lessons back in, reinforcing them.
2. The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin
This is about taking a bunch of studies related to happiness, filtering it through a personal lens and then weaving a story around it. I’m also interested in understanding how people manage their time and achieve goals.
3. You are Not a Gadget by Jaron Lanier
More of a manifesto. How does one weave together history with a vision of the future? Many folks have told me that they disagreed with some of ideas put forth in this book, but at the least we know Mr. Lanier can be provocative.
4. American Artifacts: Essays in Material Culture Edited by Kenneth Haltman & Jules David Prown
This book is a compilation of essays covering America’s connection to products and what that has to say about American culture. I can’t wait to read about chapters about corsets, lava lamps and the telephone.
A history and a book which looks to the past to get ideas of the future. How can one weave together a cohesive explanation of how a culture arose based on various influences?
I just finished one of these, and will be looking forward to digging into the rest of these over the coming weeks. At the end of the summer, I’ll report back and let you know what you think the value of each of these and how I might apply these to my work.