Door No.5: Voice Ethnography

The latest entry in BrainJuicer’s Advent Calendar of experiments.

The Experiment: Mobile ethnography – getting consumers to witness their own lives using video – has become a fantastic research tool. It allows us to remove the distracting presence of the researcher from the field of study, and it makes larger ethnographic samples much more cost-effective.

But it has barriers – for instance, the bathroom door. Some topics are just too intimate for mobile ethnography to work. These are often the same intimate subjects that online communities can work so well for. But even so they can miss the immediacy of mobile ethnography.

Not a technique we endorse.

Our solution was simply to turn the lights out –  use voice recording rather than video to capture the moment. But could “research radio” really give us rich data?

The Results: While some participants ended up recording their commentary after the fact, we did manage to persuade many to take their device into the bathroom and record an intimate routine with the pictures off. The results were quite viscerally immediate – the sound of rushing water very prominent – and we found that the automated transcription coped well with the voices and sound.

The great value of mobile ethnography lies partly in its field of vision – the ability of the camera to capture more than the recorder intended. This is obviously limited with sound, but even so the immediacy and detail meant that we could see bathroom routines as the complex things they are, not the smooth processes memory might turn them into.

To learn more about our work in mobile ethnography, get in touch with BrainJuicer’s Juice Generation team.


One thought on “Door No.5: Voice Ethnography

  1. Pingback: The Complete Advent Calendar Of Experiments | Brian Juicer Blog

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