Comment on new directions in Ethnography

Last decade in enthnographic research?

You might want to search these topic areas, where there is very rapid growth:

“ethnography” “quantitative” “models” has 3.2 Million entry points (Google, 24 Oct 2021)
“quantitative ethnography” with 12,000 entry points
“ethnography” “social media” with 6.68 Million entry points
Note that N(“ethnography” “simulation”) = 10.5 Million is much larger than N(“ethnography” “simulations”) = 1.13 Million, so the field has not been integrated yet – “most every group is working alone, and they do not have a general framework for global cooperation.” Pretty common for most global scale communities now on the Internet.
Google has some quirks in its counting and reporting. But overall the order of magnitudes are right. Converting entry points to groups or to individuals is usually fairly stable.
Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation


You are very welcome. And thank you for the question. I have not checked groups working on ethnography lately, so it was a good reminder. Not sure you are interested in the future, or not. But (“solar system” OR “mars” OR “lunar”) (“colonization” OR “exploration”) is growing fast. It is 101 Million (Google, 26 Oct 2021). Much ethnography is clear writing and description of complex processes and relationships. The tools now could be statistics, simulations, Internet and corpus mining, image and video classification and analysis. But such efforts are scattered and the diffusion of methods glacial.

Earlier this morning, I was looking at (“dolphin” OR “animal”) (“communication” OR “language”) with 1.37 Billion entry points. It cries out for organization, identification of duplicates and close variations; a core map of the content, groups, interests, and interactions. I am mainly interested where there are groups of hundreds of millions all beginning to work in global communities for the first time. Putting things on the Internet is just an indicator, there are specific practices that are needed to have sustainable communities collaborating efficiently. The independent, but unconnected efforts of that many individuals is extraordinarily inefficient for the human species. Our global GDP potential is at least a thousand times the world GDP. But humans do not value humans or other species. Individually sometimes, but not working globally.

Combining all human knowledge for one of these global communities has dramatic impact. Just imagine if the whole Internet were integrated and accessible. That is what I am working toward. But will probably die before I see any group taking the first steps. I have investigated close to 20,000 of these large groups in sufficient detail to understand their structure, dynamics and potential. All of them are not working anywhere near their potential. When I check all the countries, it is just sad. Most of the solutions are known, or just lying there to be used, but groups only work for themselves. (“covid” OR “coronavirus” OR “corona virus”) is down to 4.61 Billion entry points from a peak of 7.5 Billion because the groups that could mine it for their own benefit have mostly lost interest. We should have formed a global community instantly, and it would have been a small event, not a global catastrophe. Just watch sometime and see who benefits from these disasters and unsolved problems. And check the flows of data and methods.  It is all paper methods pasted onto the Internet, not true best practices for global collaboration.  Ethnographers must be truly lonely people.

Richard Collins, Director, The Internet Foundation

Richard K Collins

About: Richard K Collins

Director, The Internet Foundation Studying formation and optimized collaboration of global communities. Applying the Internet to solve global problems and build sustainable communities. Internet policies, standards and best practices.

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