Wednesday, February 15, 2012

first critical review On Barz

Through Barz's reading "confronting the field note In and out of the field", I started to reflect on a question that I had earlier posed for myself:
"How does a field research/study conducted by an ethnographer turn into a written analysis or an ethnography?" It is inevitably important to take notes of experiences and feelings in realtime, later reflect upon the memories and eventually turn them into much more formal styled writing documents. However this article took a much deeper dive into the significance of field notes. He used his own examples to explain the definition/form of field note, the functionality of field note as "an intermediary point that link the processes of ethnography back to the processes of field research", as "an inner/outer dialogue with myself", and as " a process of reassessing or stepping back for my initial assumption of elitism and see my experience from a different perspective".He also addressed the difficulties of translating one's experiences into text. "The most important gap for the participant -observer, therefore is not between what he sees and what is there, but between his experience and how he is going to communicate it."
Up to this point I began to associate field note with a common writing exercise I practice often, which is to just sit at a place quietly while writing on a piece of paper non stop follow the consciousness of my mind at the moment. After ten minutes, I will look back at the lines of words, which could include the sound of a truck that just went by, the weird dream I had last night or the smell of fresh soil nearby. This stream of consciousness might have represented both some thoughts that hid deeply in my head, and some factual, sensual/visual or incidental experiences caused by my surroundings. Or rather, it is a mingle of thoughts, observations and chance.
This writing practice, similar with field notes in ethnography, answers the question, just as Barz concluded, "what do I know?" and "how can I know what I know?"

In the end I would like to raise a question for discussion:" with the technology development nowadays, there are many devices such as cameras and video cameras that ethnographers could utilize to capture the moment right away while they are experiencing it. Does writing on paper still holds the same importance?"

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