In my previous blog post I briefly mentioned my curiosity with the shift in viewing patterns between when my dad was a child and now, approximately 40 years later. I find it interesting that although viewing patterns have changed, data collection techniques have stayed reasonably quantitative.
Although this data collection has expanded to include multiple devices such as phones, tablets and laptops, I believe that this is still not accurate enough to only view qualitative information . Of course it is useful to know how long the TV is on, what channels, what time and what device are being used etc. However I believe that the quality of this information would be enhanced immensely with the inclusion of qualitative data.
Collaborative ethnography is essentially research that places strong importance on the relationships and collaboration with participants throughout all elements of the process (Lassiter, 2005). Collaborative ethnography would allow researchers to understand the context of television viewing such as attention (are people even watching it or is it just background noise), emotions (how much it effects them), and traditions (family viewing, sitting arrangements).
Simple data collection from homes may have been accurate 40 years ago. As explained in my previous interview, my dad only watched TV when a specific show was on if not the TV was turned off.
We didn’t really browse through the channels like we do now. We would come in to watch TV when our shows were on and they were the shows we watched.
In my home, the TV is on the vast majority of the time. That does not mean we are actually paying attention to it. Numbers and data collection simply cannot account for the context of these digital interactions. Although this collective ethnographic research may be more difficult to undertake and understand, I believe that commercial researchers would benefit from receiving the whole picture.