Tag Archives: ethno-mining

Data conversations: Can ethnographers do numbers?

I was grappling for a long time about how to approach numbers, statistics, patterns in my Wikipedia research. I’m an ethnographer, right, we’re supposed to be averse to using numbers. Right?

And then Rachelle sent me this really interesting piece by Ken Anderson and the crew from Intel’s People and Practices Research group called ‘Numbers Have Qualities Too: Experiences with Ethno-Mining’ (Ken Anderson et al, 2009) [PDF].

And I realised that there is no problem with numbers and statistics per se. The problem is when we use numbers divorced from the context in which they are extracted. The problem comes when we use numbers to speak for a community, rather than enabling the community to speak to the numbers.Read More… Data conversations: Can ethnographers do numbers?