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Fieldwork preparation

Over the next three days I’ll be going to two blogmeets: All-Blogs “100 Days” this evening, and a Nuffnang Exclusive Private Screening of the movie Hancock.

I’m looking forward to them, to meet some bloggers and have some interesting conversations; though I always approach these events with a little trepidation, as I am not very good at socialising and I usually feel a bit out of place… At the All-Blogs meets, which are mostly SoPo and journalist-types, I am a non-Malaysian; and at the Nuffnang events, I’m an old fart! However, everybody is always welcoming and I always end up enjoying them :-)

So far, I have developed a technique for preparing for these events, which are important for my research. As an anthropologist, I have to approach them from a slightly different angle: my job is to participate and observe, but without becoming totally detached…

My usual technique so far is:
• Prepare: camera with spare battery, mp3 player with spare battery, notebook, pen, name cards.
• Before I go: go over previous notes/posts about similar events, and try to remember who I spoke to and what about (I am terrible with names…). Check out posts online about the event. Write down some notes about what I expect to see, and my preconceived notions: think about how this might affect how I will perceive the upcoming event. Think about questions I’d like to ask if I get a chance.
• When I get there: go with the flow, try to socialise and talk to people. If possible, ask questions about blogging, but don’t overdo it – remember, people are there to attend the event, not to help my research! Take notes of any talks, or anything that comes up that is relevant; another option is to make voice notes on the mp3 player. Hand out my name card to anyone who may be interested, this will help them to remember me – I hope. Relax and enjoy!
• Afterwards: write/record more notes as soon as I can (I often record thoughts while driving home). The next day, write up the notes in my computer, and do a blog post about it. Check out what other bloggers are saying online about the event. Think about how it fits into the bigger picture of my research.

It’s quite a lot of work, really. But honestly, I thank my lucky stars to have such an interesting job! :-D