Playing with Forms: Drumbeat Part 2

Jade Did Drumbeat: A Field Journal

It’s Interactive & Ethnographic

That is part 2.  Here is the explanation.
So, I was sent to Drumbeat as a scholar. I was told I needed to document the Drumbeat experience as part of my scholarship. I needed a form to make sure I had a focus and didn’t produce something meaningless. Currently, I’m enrolled in a performance ethnography class. I needed a field site.  I wanted to make Future Class my field site.  Once I got approval from all parties involved, it was a go.

One of the requirements of my ethnography class was to keep a field journal. It didn’t need to be shared, but it needed to be done. I have tons of google docs of random notes organized by date.  I also wanted to have some kind of public web documentation.  As I started noticing themes popping up, I thought: self, why not make your field journal into a website.  So I turned my Wordrpress install into a multisite install and made a Drumbeat blog.

As things and themes started popping up, I started adding draft pages to the blog with notes of what my observations were as well as the occasional quote and link.  I also started looking for a theme that would not create a normal blog hierarchy and would also be able to incorporate video and imagery in a way that made sense.  I went through two themes, and the second one was a keeper (the designer is linked in the footer of the field journal).

Post Drumbeat, I finished interviewing and started turning my notes in to something coherent and organizing thoughts around my notes, observations and themes I saw bubbling up in in Future Class.  I was thinking of it as sort of a practice not just in creating a field journal, but in creating some semblance of a non-linear story around Future Class that would be useful not just for me, if I had to write an analytical paper around our activity, but also for anyone who was curious about future class, who we are, what we were doing, and our issues and successes.

I don’t like the distancing that happens a lot of times in traditional ethnographic work.  Performance Ethnography tries to minimize that distance.  I think using the digital minimizes it even more.

The members of Future Class saw the site before anyone else.  They were able to give me feedback, let me know if they were uncomfortable with anything, give me their gut reactions etc.  They had the freedom to do that publicly in the form of comments (I even encouraged them to use the comment space for that if they had any).  I love that.  It is so amazing that the digital allows that type of dialogue to exist very early on in a project.  It also means that my field journal is a living document, subject to changes, addendum, additions etc.

While this field journal obviously does not capture all of my field notes, or even all of my video footage, it is representative of the things that were important from my point of view at this time.  If feedback dictates, the members of my field site other than myself also found it to be an honest and accurate representation.  I hope that it allows outside visitors to get an accurate glimpse of Future Class.

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