difficult to record interactions and decipher them on the spot while
participating in the activity of knitting and listening to snippets of another
conversation which may be across the room while being involved in another
conversation. The researcher found being exposed to such a vast amount of
information was slightly overwhelming. Being a fully participating member and
observer in an ethnography requires a dab hand at being able to multi-task and
deciding on the information that would be included in the notes. Notes were, as
much as possible done in a descriptive way rather than as impressions (Silverman
2004) to preserve the originality of the information.
anticipation of this, the researcher used a few different strategies to help to
collect the information for the study. The strategies used were, a diagram of
the layout of the room to help visualise the table and sitting arrangement,
noting the main theme of the conversation and the context in which the theme
was discussed, types of interactions happening and also the use of audio
1. An image of the rough field note of one of the ethnography sessions.
the room layout made it possible to take down conversation groups without
having to write down names or lengthy sentences. The room layout was drawn with
the thought that it may have an effect on the way interactions happen and even
if it did not, the rough diagram was easily done and allowed for some note
2. Image of the layout diagram in the first finalised field notes.
ensure that as much information as possible was recorded, the researcher tried
to note down the themes of as many conversations as possible and sat with
different groups of people when possible during the different sessions to
engage with different groups of confidants and informants to increase the
representativeness of the observation to the entire group (Silverman 2004).
the audio recording was used to ensure that the researcher would not miss out
on conversations happening nearby. This was something that should have ideally
happened, unfortunately, the reality was that the configuration of the room and
the manner in which conversations happen during the meetings (all at the same
time) made it very challenging to hear the topics of conversation. However, as
we are only collecting the theme of the conversation, it was possible to sift
through the recording to gather the needed information.
curiosity and some misplaced enthusiasm, the researcher decided to try to
transcribe the audio recording. Such as is the case, only one was finished and
can be seen in Appendix 3 and in consideration of confidentiality, all names
were replaced with pseudonyms. Transcription of an audio recording for
ethnography does not come with the safety net of focus groups and interviews
where only one person is speaking at a time an usually close to the microphone.
When there were multiple conversations going on at the same time with various
pitch and volume, it becomes quite challenging to transcribe the audio to text.