The Constant Methodologist


This site contains a collection of tutorials and methodological notes relevant to the study of interaction with and through technology. The focus is the task of making the traces people and technologies leave available for ethnographic examination. It is maintained by Thomas Hillman from the Department of Applied IT at the University of Gothenburg.

Trace Ethnographic Methods

As people interact online, the traces they leave drive the digital platforms for social interaction they use. For educational researchers, traces like written documents in classrooms have always been of interest, but unlike these traces, digital traces produced on social platforms like web forums and social media are not secondary sources for the researcher trying to understand learning in interaction. Instead, these traces are the primary interactional means and the means that users, technical platforms and researchers have for making sense of any activity that takes place. However, as social interaction online has expanded and become integral to many facets of life, the availability of trace data has exploded leaving researchers with an interest in understanding interaction on social platforms with massive datasets to handle.

Video-Based Ethnographic Methods

For researchers trying to unpack the specifics of human and human-technology interactions, video is a particularly powerfull tool. With small cameras and screen-recording it is possible to create detailed records of even mobile interactions and to document technology use/non-use as part of everyday activities.