Quantified Home Project Report

Quantified Home Project Report

This section outlines the background to the data gathered in ‘the interactive home’. It is advisable to visit ‘the interactive home’ before reading the background and consequential analysis of its creation and results.
This is a long accompanying essay, so a PDF alternative can be downloaded here if needed.

1.1 Introduction

The boundaries of what is considered to be good ethnographic practice are constantly being restructured and reimagined. As such, ethnography can be used to understand innovation. Yet, participant observation – the staple practice ethnographic data is often developed from – is under threat from alternative data gathering processes. In an age of big data, technological advancements offer numerous alternatives beyond participant observation which can help to understanding how people organise themselves. Further, the presentation of ethnographic data is no longer restricted to words on a page. Multiple senses can be considered in building a more atmospheric, immersive ethnography. This project explores this notion of a sensory anthropology by utilising multiple methods of data presentation, using them to display both qualitative and quantitative data. The project also investigates how two cohabiting participants negotiate shared and private space in the home.

The project sets-out to explore the definition of digital ethnography by giving focus to the boundaries of qualitative data and quantitative data. As opposed to arguing for one or the other, this project attempts to highlight the complementary nature of each data set, showing how quantitative data can benefit from qualitative data (see Wang, 2013) and vice versa. The project aims to foreground the role of digital technology as not only a “utilitarian research tool, or a subject of inquiry, but as an emerging platform for collecting, exploring, and expressing ethnographic materials” (Hsu, 2014). I argue that fields of enquiry built upon qualitative research – such as anthropology –  must rethink the role of quantitive data. Currently conventional quantitative data is mostly used as a truth verifying tool of enquiry; a method which gives quantitative data a passive role in simply supporting or disproving qualitative hypotheses. As opposed to resisting the cross-discipline wave of research based upon big data, this project argues that we must exert efforts into reimagining the role of quantitive data so that it can serve the purpose of participant observation (perhaps before it replaces it).


This project is one of self-reflection; evaluating the data collection methods used to both collect and present data. This project explores three central themes and questions based upon ethnographic data: (1) How beneficial is qualitative data for quantitative data? (2) How can digital technologies improve or damage practices of ethnography? (3) How do these multiple methods of data collection and its multi-sensory presentation show us, in this instance, what makes a house a home? By using examples of shared/private space negotiation in the home we can explore the needs for qualitative and quantitative data in differing circumstances.

This project is split into two halves for significant reason. One half (see here) – from now on called ‘the interactive home’ – uses multiple methods of ethnographic data enquiry to collect and present data in a way that is interactive, malleable and subjective. The hope of this was that the data presented could be interpreted by the reader with little to no theoretical or analytical preconceptions set by the ethnographer. Although this cannot be completely overcome due to the many mediations that are unavoidably attached to the project (cultural assumptions, language, specific technology usage etc). It is important to note that no topic of discussion was ultimately specified until the last two visits which eventually culminated as ‘the week of  quantitative data collection’ (to be detailed later). The ethnographic data was collected from five field site visits over five months.

This half (currently being read) grounds the empirical data from the ‘interactive home’. Relevant literature is reviewed to contextualise the project amongst the previous research material, allowing for the subject matter of the project to be grounded with validity and substance. The methods used in building the ‘interactive home’ are then evaluated and outlined. Consequently, the results of the ‘interactive home’ are discussed to show what the ethnography achieved. Discussion over the use of digital technologies in ethnographic data collection will then take place. Finally, the methods used in the project will be evaluated to offer reflexivity and improvements for future projects.

2.1Relevant Research Material | Literature Review

It is equally important that our understandings of digital media and technology in anthropological and ethnographic work is emphasised correctly. Many ethnographers already use digital tools. Amongst other practices, ethnographers electronically communicate with their participants and research assistants, they use media platforms like YouTube or Facebook and they map field sites using mapping systems such as Google Maps. The function of some tools of ethnographic enquiry must be kept more rigid than others. Only ethnographers can use human interpretation to examine human interaction, expression and cultural process. Computational tools are currently inadequate at deriving meaning from these ‘human elements’.

The purpose of ethnography is to do it with people, rather than on people. This, on face value, is a major difference between big data and ethnographic participant observation. Perhaps more important, however, is the possibility for big data and ethnography to be compatible in aiding one another. Tricia Wang (2013) makes a case for “thick data”, an integrative approach that combines big data and ethnography. Thick data, coined in reference to Clifford Geertz’ “Thick Description” (1973), refers to “ethnographic approaches that uncover the meaning behind big data visualisation and analysis” (Wang, 2013).  It would be naive to believe that big data held no use beyond for-profit capitalist agendas.  Accordingly, anthropologists should embrace the era of big data, implementing personal data into ethnographic projects on it’s own terms. In this approach, we should appreciate the differences between ethnography and big data. Big data is likely to be here to stay, as such its purposes should be appropriated by ethnographers.

Wendy Hsu (2014) builds on Wang’s “thick data” by exploring the boundaries of digital data and computational usage in ethnographic research. The purpose of Hsu’s article is to expand the definition of digital ethnography, shifting the focus of the digital from a subject to a method of research. Hsu uses “augmented empiricism” to describe the practice of documenting social and cultural processes with empirical specificity and precision. Hsu argues that to achieve augmented empiricism, data can be used to extend our field-based knowledge. Further, Hsu argues empirical immersion is neither exclusive to the qualitative domain of ethnography nor the quantitative world of (big) data. By working with the variety of digital and non-digital tools at an ethnographers disposal the scope of ethnographic practice can be widened. Thus, Hsu calls for us to “conceptualise a complementary relationship between ethnography and quantitative methods” (2014: 6) and asserts that we need to rethink the role of quantitative data.

In the case of this project, it is important to illuminate the interconnectivity of material and digital culture. Thus, criticism should be aimed towards the dichotomies of online-offline or virtual-physical. Conceptualising an opposition of material and physical exclusivity reinforces this binary. Tom Boellstorff (2008) examines this issue in his work on the virtual world ‘Second Life’. An ethnography on virtual worlds can be misunderstood as a study of technology, however, virtual worlds can produce new ways of living. Boellstorff uses his ethnography to oppose the “false opposition” (2015: 2) between “real” and “virtual”, describing this binary as problematic in the discussion of virtual worlds as it is misleading and fails to capture the many ways in which virtual worlds are real (Miller & Horst, 2013: 15). This dualism is overcome using thick description, with Boellstorff conducting fieldwork with both the users of Second Life and its developer Linden Labs. Understanding this is significant for this project as it highlights the ways in which the material and the digital interact.


Domestic media technologies are ever-present in contemporary life; we structure our daily life and personal relationships around them (Church et al., 2010). Some media technologies seem to predetermine the space they reside in (they are too large to move around/require access to power outlets). However, fixed technologies are giving way to more portable devices such as laptops and music players – if you have a portable music device, not only can you listen to music anywhere, but also at any time (Church et al., 2010). As such, this project takes into account how the home and fieldwork site is organised by technologies.

Pink and Leder-Mackley (2012) show that an understanding of the sensory aesthetic of home can provide an informative starting point for the analysis of everyday domestic life. Building the interactive home must take influence from a variety of data collection methodologies. In the following section these methods will be outlined and the reasons these methods were selected for this project will be detailed. Consequently presentation as data in the interactive home will be discussed.

3.2What data and How? | Shared Space

As detailed in the opening to ‘the interactive home’, I have been lifelong friends with both my participants, so visiting my fieldwork site was never an issue. Consequently, I was able to visit my fieldwork site and see my participants in their home five times over five months. Upon each visit we decided amongst ourselves what we thought was worth studying, this was normally following discussion and collaboration with my participants. 

3.2.1 Living Room Arrangements: Upon my second visit to the home, we all agreed that the new ‘arrangement’ (see here) of living room was an interesting topic. It laid focus to the participant’s desire to partition rooms in accordance with their function and label. We felt that the data from this could only come through discussion with one another, and that the only way for this to be successfully explored was through an interview and subsequent detailing of this interview. We perhaps could have mapped the sofa’s original space, but equally felt that was unnecessary. What was important  was to find out why they moved the sofa, not where to and from. A map could have negated this point.

3.2.2 Wifi and Productivity: Following this interview, I felt it was substantial to understand how the participants ‘use’ the home. Considering the way they had partitioned the living room we wanted to understand how they physically and non-physically partitioned other roles in the home. As such, we investigated the relationship between wifi and productivity in the home (see here for more in-depth methods). The data for this insight took a different route. By setting my phone into field test mode, I was able to test the strength of the wifi signal in different areas of the home. This quantitative data was complemented by qualitative data as I asked W and P where they felt they worked best. W and P were not as engaged in this section as others, but for me it was an interesting insight. The data was presented through multiple mapping techniques. I used Google Sketchup to map the home, draw the ‘wifi grid’ and plot the potential work spaces. This needed to be intuitive to a reader with few annotations needed.

3.2.3 Interviews on Shared Space: I followed this theme of ‘sharing and negotiating space’ into my next visit (3rd) where I conducted the ‘main interview’ (see here). As detailed in the interview, most of my questions came from an origin of how W and P shared space. It was significant that I interviewed both W and P separately as I did not want either of their answers to shroud the opinions of the other. This was something I experienced in the two aforementioned sections and so wanted to address it in a subtle (and perhaps slightly coercive) way. These interviews could have been recorded and presented either as a video or a sound clip, but W felt uncomfortable with both these choices. We agreed that if W wasn’t to use film or sound neither should P as that would be cause for inequality in the project. Further, abridged interviews by textual representation were sufficient in presenting the data.

3.3What data and How? | Shared Space

The next visit I made (4th) took a new direction based upon the theme of big data and quantified-self movements. This was decided upon due to its appeal as a quantified data set. The previously mentioned sections all required a basis of qualitative data to build ethnographic understandings. By tracking the participants with digital technologies I could explore this theme in a more overt way – could the quantitative data represent the participant’s activities during the day without the need for further qualitative inquiry? I asked W and P to choose 3 thing we could track for a week. A week seemed sufficient in providing enough data, but not being intrusive into the participant’s lives. ‘Walking’, ‘exercise’ and computer ‘productivity’ were decided upon, we later added ‘mood’ as it was included in the app we used track walking stats with.

3.3.1 Phone: Walking statistics were tracked using native iPhone app, Apple Health. This data was then processed using an subscription based app called Exist. Exist presented the data in a succinct way that allowed for easy comparison between metrics and between participants. Apple Health and Exist automatically tracked and processed data on steps, activity, floors climbed and distance – these were included in the data presented in the interactive home. This data was appropriate as it did not invade privacy like alternatives (eg mapping data), whilst it also give substantial numerate data. Additionally, Exist offered a mood tracking input, where by participants were asked to give ratings for their mood at the end of the day (1 = low/bad, 5 = high/good). As such, due to easily integrated features from Exist this was also investigated using the phone, allowing for further insight to the daily lives of W & P, and thus their relationship to the home. To complement the quantitative data the participants were asked to qualitatively detail what the data indicated. Questions posed to the participants asked why they walked more/less on certain days or why they felt better/worse on certain days and for what reasons. This would give further insights into the participant’s lifestyles in and out of the home.

3.3.2 Fitness: Exercise data was gathered using fitness application Runkeeper. P had experience with this app so it seems appropriate to use it. W, who didn’t track his fitness nor run regularly could manually input his data depending on the type of exercise he was doing. W’s exercise data was easy to visualise as he had no anonymity concerns. P however didn’t want his data to be shown, so we instead developed a means to visualise the data gathered whilst maintaining his anonymity. It was important not to mix fitness data and walking data, so the participants were asked to turn off their walking stats when doing exercise. Again, to complement the quantitative data then participants were asked to qualitatively detail what the data indicated. Questions were asked to find out how the participants felt during their exercise, why they exercised at specific times and whether they felt they could have done more/less.

3.3.3 Productivity: During my second visit, P told me he’d like to be able to track how productive he was on his laptop when at work. After sessions in the Digital Anthropology practical course, I found out about a productivity tracking tool called Rescue Time. As such, I told P about this tool who went on to use it. We then decided to implement this data into the project on the 4th week, for a week (the same as the other tracking tools). P and W both have very different jobs with very different roles, so having them track their laptop usage between work and home could provide an interesting insight: do divisive worlds of work and play exist only in physical space and place? For purposes of anonymity it was necessary to categorise the activities done on the computer. This then allowed us to track what window was open on the computer and for how long (specific web pages were also categorised depending on their nature). These could then be plotted across time, showing weekly and daily averages of ‘distracting time’ and ‘productive time’. We found it important to categorise the data into two distinct groups so to allow for easier comparison. Again, we illustrated the numerate data with descriptive data from the participant’s explanations. Questions were asked as to why some days were more/less productive, or why they saw certain spikes in productivity at certain times. Both participants found this exercise very insightful and now continue to use Rescue Time on their computers.

3.3.4 Music player: The last data set we decided to track was the music played from the wall-mounted iPad. The music player was something I had noticed on my first visit, but wasn’t sure how/where to incorporate this in a sensory ethnography without it being an overwhelming feature of the project. As an outsider entering their home it seemed that the music player was a standout fixture of the constructed environment that W and P had developed in their home. We decided to track the amount of music played on the iPad. Using W’s Spotify account, I created a Last.FM account and had them log into it exclusively via the iPad. As such, Last.FM’s API allowed for the data to be exported and prepared for visualisation. External tools such as Data Sense also allowed for further exploration of the data. We decided that music habits has little to no threat to anonymity and so felt almost anything could be shown from this data set. Consequently, using the tools aforementioned, we visualised data on ‘listening history’, ‘artist history’ and ‘genre history’. Once again, this data was accompanied by questioning on what types of music W and P listen to, when they listen to music, and more specifically, how they listen to music.

3.4Building a Sensory Digital Ethnography | How Should This Data Be Presented?

I wanted to involve the reader into W and P’s home in the most immersive way possible. We felt that by knowing W and P, the user/reader would in turn begin to know their home. On my 5th visit to the home, we filmed the home and my movements through it. W and P were, again, keen to be involved in this side the of the project, offering suggestions on how to present the video. I let them construct their home how they thought represented it best, although I explained that there should be some degree of authenticity to how they present it for filming. In the end they didn’t change much, as so I moved through the house filming from my forehead on W’s Go-Pro Hero 2. This video was then edited using Adobe After Effects and YouTube annotations to create 3 different interactive story boards (you can see my initial plans here), in which the reader could “choose their own adventure”. This helped to keep the user engaged, immersed and involved in the home. Soundscapes from each room were added to further add a more flexible immersion; users could read and listen, without requiring video. The sound recordings were taken at times when the room was in use by the participants – I did ask them not to speak, however. Additionally, maps were placed in each section of the interactive home, to allow the user a point of reference and understanding for their location in the wider context of the home. Maps offer a universal point of understanding and thus were beneficial in opening up the home.

(View the results of the interactive home)

4.1Analysis of Methods

Once the digital ethnography was shown to W & P they were extremely happy with what we had built together. We believe it captured the home in a multi sensory and thus immersive experience. Making the home interactive allowed for users to explore the home at the own speed and desire, whilst not posing many issues for other researchers to repeat the methods we used. The data was presented in a way which allowed the user to interpret what they encountered with little to no theoretical or analytical preconceptions set by the author. Similarly, this project’s aims were made after four visits to the field site, I attempted to understand the field site holistically and did not enter the area of study with a hypothesis so not to bias my observations. I believe that success in the multi sensory digital ethnography came from the user’s ability to choose what to experience. Soundscapes and visual cues were not dependent on one another, and so sounds of the flat could instead be used to immerse a reader in the text. Similarly, the user could watch videos without sound and not feel that their experience was limited.

The results of the interactive home were, in my opinion, insightful. In the results for the ‘phone’, ‘laptop’, ‘exercise’ and ‘music player’, qualitative data set a wide understanding of the participants actions, qualitative data would then illuminate specificity. Whilst alternatively, the opposite approach was required in investigating ‘productivity and wifi’ relationships, quantitative data specified the qualitative. The ‘interview’ and ‘room arrangements’ only utilised interviews based upon participant observation. The results presented gave information about P and W’s relationship to the home, and how they negotiate space within the home. This gave us greater insight to whether this house was a home for them. It is important to note the results of the interactive home (described in the interactive home) should not be taken as finished data. Many things in the home can be explored further and in a more complete manner (longer time, more rigorous etc), the results of this project represent a position which encourages further experimentation with the methods used.

5.1Discussion | Does Big Data Need Thick Data?

It would be beneficial to discuss the advantages thick description offered to the tracking (big) data gathered from the music player, the phone, the laptop and fitness statistics. The appeal of big data comes from its ease of access and mass quantities. In the interactive home, the digital ethnography blended methods of data collection and experimented with design methods. The data gathered from the tracking devices represented big data collection, whilst interviews and textual analysis represented participant observation. In this project we could see the tracking (big) data was enhanced when parallel to an ethnographic participation.

In the interactive home, the quantitative data presented a broad picture for which engagement with the participants would later enlighten. For example, we could not have concluded that P had an extremely productive day on the Wednesday, as the tracking showed Thursday as the most productive day. This was because a lot of the work P did on Wednesday was away from the computer and so was untraceable by the digital technologies acknowledged in this project. Similar phenomena occurred throughout the project; specific insight could be gained from face-to-face interactions with the participants. This is not to say that the tracking data was incomplete or incorrect, its limitations came from its ability to only express human activity in numerate dialect. Perhaps these limitations could have been overcome with more tracking data, but this may have been too intrusive to the lives of the participants, and possibly could have compromised their anonymity.

However, it is worthwhile to discuss whether big data is in fact more intrusive then ethnography. Big data is criticised for it’s ‘unrestricted’ collection of personal information, but are ethnographic methods any different? Anthropologists must poke around and ask questions of their participants; they must be present and observing. Big data does not ask questions but instead takes information about our personal selves which is then later used by marketing companies. This, for me, is the intrinsic difference between how big data and ethnographic data intrudes. Ethnographers are ethically expect to learn the field site they are observing, building relationships with participants is essential. Participants trust ethnographers to use their data appropriately and ethically, it is the obfuscation process of big data that makes it “creepy” (Taylor, 2013). However, as Taylor suggests, whether we’re dealing with big data or thick data, we could reduce the ‘creepiness’ of the process by putting at least some of what we do in the public realm. This project followed these guidelines by being public accessibility and by being co-created. It is not just how data is gathered that is important, it is equally important to handle and present this data in a way that benefits the participants.

5.2Discussion | How Can Digital Technologies Improve or Damage Understandings of Ethnography?

The tracking data collected from the multiple devices and tools used allowed for me, the ethnographer, to be present even when physically absent. I could track W and P’s daily statistics from my own home and not have to physically be in their personal home for long periods of time. The use of data tracking is advantageous as it does not require a researcher to be present at all times, it does not need much technological expertise to set-up (although we should take into account that this ethnography was done in the Western world – London) and it allowed for accurate statistics updated in real-time. Due to the many limitations that constrained me to only visit the home only five times, technology allowed me to amend an issue which may not have been possible otherwise. I could, to an extent, rely on accurate statistics to find out about the lives of my participants. I may have bee able to find out the same information I did from data tracking by simply using ethnographic methods, but I equally might not have. Digital technologies made the absent (myself, the ethnographer) present.

Digital technologies allowed for a more democratised ethnography, both in its creation and its presentation. The interactive home is the product of co-creation by myself and my participants. Digital technologies made building an ethnography more democratic process in a number of ways. It was more democratic between myself and my participants as we were able to build the interactive home together, the results of which were easily accessible, reviewable and contestable to W and P. The project was then posted online with public access, thus democratising the research, the data and the information gained from the ethnography. Further, the use of a multi sensory digital ethnography meant that it could be accessible to multiple languages and cultures (despite the fact that there is a lot of text in the project, we should still acknowledge this point for future research). Finally, digital technologies allowed us to visualise both quantitative and qualitative data so that it was understandable to the reader/user. However, in evaluation of this point, it would be naive to say that digital technologies are inherently emancipatory (Morozov, 2011), just as it would be naive to say that digital technologies create better, more democratised ethnographies both in practice and presentation. Data must be handled in an ethical way, and in this experimental ethnographic circumstance the tools of digital technology benefitted the project. As such, this is not to say that all project would benefit from the inclusion of digital technologies, it is to say that they should be considered more widely in ethnographic practice due to their potential benefits, some of which are shown in this project.

Digital technologies were also crucial in building a multi sensory digital ethnography. Digital tools such as cameras and smartphones were used to record the visuals and sounds of the home. Whilst online platforms like Youtube and Soundcloud were needed in order to present them. Building a multi-sensory ethnography opens us to understand how people interact through their emotions, expression and creativity. It became important to not present these things to the user in a linear way. In the case of this project, it was noticeable how the practices of film and ethnography connect and inform each other. Film seeks to tell an inside story, whilst text helped to describe it. “Blending methods into bespoke assemblages and utilising unorthodox platforms as vessels for sharing perspectives provides a powerful method for interpreting and articulating insight” (Potts, 2016). Film allowed us to tell a verifiable story through the perspective of people; the camera in ethnography can be a truth-telling device. By using multiple methods of presentation, we are enriching how we build and share insight, opening new directions for ethnographic practice. Conversely, because of its possible uptake of new digital technologies, ethnography opens itself up for growing applicability in diverse contexts.

5.3Discussion | What Makes a House a Home?

Understanding how W and P negotiated shared and private space was a central investigation of this project. Most of the data for this side of the project came from the ‘interview’, the ‘music player’, the ‘room arrangement’ and the ‘wifi and productivity map’. W and P constructed a very public space for themselves in the main living area. If one of them was using this space they would always encouraged the other to join them. The participants were still acclimatising to their new space, imprinting themselves onto the space – making a house a home.

The room arrangement was the most illustrative of this behaviour. Moving the sofa around meant that the television was a focal point of the room. This was then taken further in the interviews when both participants told me that if they were watching television, they would encourage the other to come and join them. I understood the ever-present music to offer a similar role. It encouraged social interaction in the shared space of the kitchen and living room, thus transforming this area into a public, shared space. As such, we can observe how media technologies help us construct private and public spaces within the home. The shared feeling the participants had towards this space was also a product of the portable digital technologies W and P both had. Having a portable computer or smartphone meant that they did not have to watch television in the living room. As such, their presence in the living room signalled a willingness to engage with one another. A sentiment both the participants agreed with, regardless of the circumstance (e.g. they had guests over). W and P consciously constructed their place in the home using digital technologies. Conversely, the digital technologies in the home also took an unconscious effect upon W and P’s categorisation of the home. For example, wifi dictated productive work spaces.

6.1Evaluation | Directions for Future Research

Below are a list of possible ways the research could have been improved. Most, if not all, arise from a place of self-criticism and reflexivity on how this project could have been altered or completed to produce a more holistic experience. I encourage further criticism and suggestions in the comment section below.

  • More time spent analysing the house.
  • More ‘raw’/obvious participant observation shown in the project, so the project is less structured by my preconceptions.
  • Research into more domestic-based digital technologies ; e.g. energy consumption (See Pink & Leder-Mackley, 2012). However, it was a central point of this project to ask the participant what they wanted to study.
  • Live field notes to allow timestamped updates on the ethnographer’s participation in a social world. Acknowledging the ethnographer’s written account of the world through her/his participation (See Wang, 2016).
  • More interactive home – 360 degree video would have been perfect for this project but I was unable to fulfil this possibility due to cost and practicality constraints.
  • Multiple languages (or no languages at all) to allow for further accessibility.
  • Compare two ethnographies of two homes, one of which is done using only quantitative (big) data, the other done exclusively using qualitative data.
  • Non-physical homes – constructing space as a home outside the home (virtual worlds).

6.2Conclusion | Final Thoughts

Taking form through self-reflection and evaluation, this project has experimented with ethnographic techniques by laying focus to boundaries of qualitative data and quantitative data. As opposed to arguing for one or the other, this project has instead attempted to highlight the complementary nature of each data set. This was done using tracking (big) data and participant observation to provide insights into the daily lives of two participants. Further, the role of digital technologies in the home have been investigated. Digital technologies, such as music players or televisions, have the ability to be used in constructing private/public space in the home. Conversely, digital technologies can also influence how we understand space, with us being unaware of how they affect our categorisations of the space they reside in.

The investigations explored in this project were then presented in a multi-sensory digital ethnography. This gave us a degree of accessibility and democratisation that was not available through other methodologies. Consequently, this project has evaluated the role of digital technologies in the home and in anthropological ethnographic conduct. The implications of this project are focused towards the future of ethnography. The rigour behind ethical ethnographic conduct must remain strict, but anthropologists should be encouraged to adopt more experimental techniques.

Appropriately, this project calls for anthropologists to embrace digital technologies and utilise them where necessary in ethnography. Although resisting the digital has ideological merit, to write it off as just a result of capitalist exploitation is overly divisive. Big data already exists, and will continue to exist, and significance comes from the way we handle data. As shown in this project, conduct such as co-creation and accessibility is important in representing a fieldsite. Anthropology has the power to have a say in whether the (big) data companies have collected is used to increase profit margins or is used to further our understandings of how people organise themselves.


Boellstorff, T. (2008) Coming of Age in Second Life. NJ: Princeton University Press.

Boellstorff, T. (2015) ‘Three Real Futures for Virtual Worlds’. Journal of Virtual Worlds Research, 8(2): 1–5.

Church, K. et al. (2010) ‘At Home With Media Technology’. Home Culture, 7(3): 263-286.

Geertz, C. (1973) The Interpretation of Cultures: Selected Essays. New York: Basic Books.

Hsu, W. (2014) ‘Digital Ethnography Toward Augmented Empiricism: A New Methodological Framework’. Journal of Digital Humanities, 3(1) <Available from http://journalofdigitalhumanities.org/3-1/digital-ethnography-toward-augmented-empiricism-by-wendy-hsu/#digital-ethnography-toward-augmented-empiricism-by-wendy-hsu-n-1/> [Accessed 20 March 2016]

Pink, S. & Leder-Mackley, K. (2012) ‘Video and a Sense of the Invisible: Approaching Domestic Energy Consumption through the Sensory Home’. Sociological Research Online, 17(1): 1-21.

Taylor, E. (2013) ‘Why Thick Data Can Be Just as Creepy as Big Data’. <Available from http:// erinbtaylor.com/why-thick-data-can-be-just-as-creepy-as-big-data/> [Accessed 19 March 2016]

Morozov, E. (2011) The Net Delusion. London: Allen Lane

Wang, T. (2012) ‘Writing Live Fieldnotes: Towards a More Open Ethnography’. Ethnography Matters <Available from http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2012/08/02/writing-live- fieldnotes-towards-a-more-open-ethnography/> [Accessed 15 March 2016]

Wang, T. (2013) ‘Big Data needs Thick Data’. Ethnography Matters <Available from http:// ethnographymatters.net/blog/2013/05/13/big-data-needs-thick-data/> [Accessed 15 March 2016]

Potts, R. (2016) ‘What’s the Matter with Ethnography’. Ethnography Matters <Available from http://ethnographymatters.net/blog/2016/02/09/whats-the-matter-with-ethnography/&gt; [Accessed 16 March 2016


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