A few months ago, BBC did a news series on AI and robotics. Part of the series was a list of jobs ranked according to their ‘automation risks’, on the basis of a paper by two Oxford researchers titled The Future of Employment: How susceptible are jobs to automation. Social and humanities scientists (ranked 279th of 366) and higher education teaching professionals (327th of 366), the jobs to which I related most closely among others on the list, were both in the ‘quite unlikely’ category with a very small risk of being replaced by robots (10% and 3% respectively). Er … a sigh of relief?
In this context, I would imagine that anthropology would be one of the last disciplines to be affected by technology. I believe I am not the only one with such a perception, and I suspect the perception has something to do with the lay distinction that “sociology typically studies first-world societies, whereas anthropology has a rep for studying so-called ‘primitive’ cultures” (Aaron Swartz, 2006).
I have never been formally trained in anthropology, but as I have openly stated before, I have always had a thing for ethnographic fieldwork – something most often associated with anthropologists. Those who have done long-term fieldwork in a remote and harsh environment might dismiss my interest as naivety and say the notion in my head is more romanticised than what it actually entails. That might also be true to an extent, but what can I say? I do find the growing field of “understanding social phenomena as they unfold” both fascinating and important, but in the end I just like my research slowly brewed and rich in nuances.
So, it was an interesting realisation that in my social media feeds I am seeing more and more articles on anthropology/ethnography in the digital age. That’s how another new collection was born, and as in many cases previously, this blog will once again serve as a placeholder.
- Fieldwork in social media: What would Malinowski do? (Annette N. Markham, 2013, Qualitative Communication Research 2(4): 434-446)
- Why we are all digital anthropologists (Olivia Bellas, CNN, 29 May 2013)
- Ethnography beyond text and print: How the digital can transform ethnographic expressions (Wendy Hsu, Ethnography Matters, 9 December 2013)
- The emerging science of computational anthropology (MIT Technology Review, 10 June 2014)
- “Just another dad on his cellphone”: Evernote as field notebook (David Keyes, Anthropologizing, 10 January 2015)
- Six ways of doing digital ethnography (John Postill, Media/Anthropology, 16 January 2015)
- Data augmented ethnography: Using big data and ethnography to explore candidates’ digital interactions (Salla-Maaria Laaksonen et al., 30 November 2015)
- Small methods for big data (Heather Ford, Ethnography Matters, 9 February 2016)
- The future of designing autonomous systems will involve ethnographers (Madeleine Clare Elish, Ethnography Matters, 28 June 2016)
- The [human] codebreakers (Jessi Hempel, Backchannel, 8 August 2016)
- Smart ethnography (Goldsmiths Sociology workshop, 16 December 2016)