All posts by alex

RIEP1: Inaugural Episode

RIEP1: Inaugural Episode

RIEP1: Inaugural Episode

Here it is! The first episode of Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast.

As I was editing it, I noticed a number of flaws. For instance, there are several things I mispronounced there are some things I might have wanted to take out of it. But I maintain my RERO principle and I’m posting it as-is.

As this is the “enhanced podcast” version, with chapter markers, you can skip around as you please, between different sections. I should post MP3 files for the different sections but the official release will always be with the enhanced podcast.

My shownotes were in OmniOutliner. I cleaned them up a bit but it’s probably still obscure for anybody else…. 😉
Apart from the jingle (that I created with CCmixter content), I’ve used funky/blues impr. hungarian shepherds’ flute. 100bpm by furkosbot for tags.

  • Presentation
    • Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast (RIEP)
    • Inaugural Episode
    • Hello all
    • I’m Alex, your informal ethnographer
    • welcome to the inaugural episode of rapport: the informal ethnographer podcast
    • today
      • about me
      • ethnography
      • informality
      • and this podcast
  • Whoami
    • An informal ethnographer with formal training in ethnographic disciplines
      • Informal
      • Casual
      • Happy-go-lucky
      • Friendly
      • Playful
      • Anti-snob
      • Nobody important
    • A semi-nomadic French-speaking ethnographer from Montreal
      • Moved 22 times from December 2000 to April 2008
      • French-speaker from Montreal
        • Québécois and Swiss
        • Not WASP
    • Generalist
      • creative generalist
  • Interests
    • Informal
      • Coffee
        • Diversity
        • Homeroasting
        • Brewing methods
        • Growing
        • Cafés
      • Beer
      • Music
      • Social media experience
    • Formal
      • Semiotics
      • Language
      • Music
      • Mali
  • Training
  • Experience
    • Ethnographic experience
      • Informal
        • Keep observing
          • Bored at party
        • Food
          • Sharing
        • Geek culture
          • Beer geeks
          • Coffee
          • Tech geeks
        • Second-hand
          • Projects from students
      • Formal
    • Social media experience
      • Mailing-lists
      • Blogs
      • Social networks
      • Geek crowds
      • Microblogging
    • Podcasting experience
  • Motivations
    • Fun
    • Learn by doing
      • Participant-observation
    • Own approach
    • Connections
    • Visibility
      • Approach
      • Myself
  • Ethnography
    • Why ethnography?
      • Realization on ethnographic disciplines
      • Avoid four-fields anthropology
      • Allows for extension outside antropology
      • Became “freelance ethnographer”
    • Defining ethnography
  • Informality
    • Casual
    • Personal
    • Modest
    • Informal concepts
    • Informal Podcast
      • Trying out
        • Link to participant-observation
      • Podcasting
        • Independence
        • Easy to make and distribute
        • Audience/niche
        • Lydon’s Open Source
        • Listen at will
    • Lack of formal requirements
      • Genres
      • Not lecture
      • “Without footnotes”
      • Beyond narrative
    • Informal language and tone
      • Sociolinguistics
      • Politeness
        • Call people by name
        • T/V
        • First name
        • Nickname
      • Proximity
      • Assumed rapport
      • Shared knowledge
      • Acronyms
  • Editorial policy
    • Focus on ethnography
      • Perspective on ethnography
        • Approach
        • Diverse disciplines
        • Extends to ethnographic disciplines
    • Themed
      • From practical to theoretical
      • Overlap
      • Topics
      • Themes
      • Revisit
    • Not time-sensitive
      • Discuss news through blog
    • Format
      • Variable
      • Won’t promise
    • Features
      • Themes, topics, categories for episodes
      • Interviews
      • Feedback
      • Possible guest and/or co-hosts
    • Blog
      • with shownotes
      • Other files
    • Versions
      • MP3
      • Enhanced podcast
    • Duration
      • Elastic time
      • Chapters
      • Snippets?
    • Frequency (monthly)
      • Second Monday
      • On blog with shownotes
      • May post advance
        • May even stash up a few episodes
        • Maintain my official posting date
        • Other things on blog
  • Interaction
  • Site

RIEP0: Jingle

Quick and dirty jingle for Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast.

Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast (Jingle)

My main idea was the “writing” part of ethnography. I mixed a few samples in reference to cultural diversity while trying not to be too exotic. I thought about adding some excerpts from my field recordings but since they were recorded for other purposes, I would need to get permission from people who have been recorded. In fact, I recorded some of the writing noises while listening to a field recording.

I also didn’t want to have speech I could recognize. I did use a sample of speech I don’t recognize and it has the desired effect. I don’t even know which language it is but it’d be funny if somebody were to tell me that some recognizable words are inappropriate.

The idea that the writing sounds are louder than the rest and the fact that they end the jingle are in line with some thinking about ethnography. Not that the ethnographer should dominate or that she has the last word. It’s just a matter of taking things from the ethnographer’s perspective. Somewhat introspective.

Made with GarageBand using the following samples from CCmixter:

All of these samples are licensed under Creative Commons 3.0, either as “Attribution” or as “Attribution Noncommercial.” I have no intention of going commercial with my podcast so I think it’s fitting.

I also used a preset “Applause and Laughter” track from within GarageBand, mostly as a way to refer to informality.

I’ll probably make another jingle at some point, but RERO is a motto of mine.

Yes, there is some background noise. Part of this is on purpose.

Step-by-Step Launch: May 7, 2009

  1. Worked on podcast show notes.
  2. Explored Google Sites.
  3. Decided on the podcast and blog names.
  4. Clearly separated my Informal Ethnographer identity from my main identity.
  5. Decided on “iethnographer” as the short form for Informal Ethnographer profiles.
  6. Registered the “iethnographer” name in a few places (domain name, blog, microblogging accounts).
  7. Selected the LGPL icon kedit.png from Crystal Project as a logo/icon/avatar for Informal Ethnographer.
  8. Created a simplistic site logo from that icon.
  9. Added an explanation for Informal Ethnographer.
  10. Created a page to list Acronyms, added those accumulated from a Disparate page.
  11. Started announcing the site through social media, including Identica and Twitter.
  12. Joined the ethnography, anthropology, and ethnomusicology Twibes.
  13. Started following ethnographers on Twitter.

Pseudo-FAQ: Informal Ethnographer?

Hello All!

I’ll flesh out Informal Ethnographer as time goes on, but let’s get a few things out of the way, ASAP. Think of it as an FAQ (though no question has been asked).
It’s a copy of a page I posted today. That page will probably change.


My name’s Alexandre Enkerli but you can call me “Alex.” You can find out more about me on my main blog, especially in the About section of that blog. You can also search for “Enkerli” just about anywhere online. My last name is quite rare and, with very few exceptions, any content with that name has to do with me.
For the past little while, I’ve been defining myself as a semi-nomadic French-speaking ethnographer from Montreal.
I’m also into:

  • Coffee I roast coffee beans at home and I’ve served as a judge at barista championships
  • Beer I homebrew and I consider myself a beer geek
  • Music I’m a sax player and I’ve been working on music for a while
  • Social Media I’ve been online for a while and I usually participate in every social media activity I can think of.

You Call Yourself an “Ethnographer?”

Well, yeah… Professionally and academically, it’s probably the best title I can find. So I stick to it.
One reason I like the term “ethnographer” so much is that it brings together most things I’ve been doing.
I’m an anthropologist specialized in linguistic, cultural, musical, symbolic, and social dimensions of the field. All these specializations can be described as “ethnographic.” I also teach a number of things: linguistic anthropology, cultural anthropology, ethnomusicology, symbolic anthropology, sociology, folkloristics, African studies, the anthropology of religion, and material culture. With all of these, I use an ethnographic approach. So, I feel pretty comfortable calling myself an “ethnographer.” I do ethnography, I teach it, and I think about it in different contexts.
Makes sense.
Something I like about “ethnographer” instead of “anthropologist” is that it’s both more precise and less restrictive. I hold two degrees in anthropology (bachelor’s and master’s, both from Université de Montréal), but I’ve worked outside of anthropology. At the same time, I don’t do much that has to do with archæology or human biology, which are important dimensions of anthropology as an academic discipline in North American.
What’s very cool about the term “ethnographer” in my case is that it’s now my official title. I started signing contracts in which I’m described as a “freelance ethnographer.” I think it’s very fitting.
Besides, some people think that calling yourself an “anthropologist” is presumptuous since they see anthropology as something floating above the work we do. It’d be like a physicist calling herself a “philosopher” because she has a “Ph.D.” or a hospital attendant calling himself a “health specialist” because his work has to do with health. I don’t necessarily agree with that view, and “anthropologist” is used by most people who have at least a graduate degree in anthropology. But it’s interesting to think about.
From experience, I could also say that “anthropologist” is often more confusing than anything else. If I don’t get a blank look when I mention “anthropology,” I get cautious: people who think they know what anthropology is often mistake it for something else. It’s actually a big problem.
With “ethnographer,” I get more blank looks, which is actually a good thing because it allows me to define what I do.
Which brings me to the obvious question:

Erm… So… What Do You Mean by “Ethnography?”

Ah-ha! Excellent question! Glad you asked.
One purpose of this site is to clear up some possible confusion about ethnography.
As is often the case with just about any term, “ethnography” has different meanings for different people. At the same time, there’s enough in common in different definitions that, sometimes, the distinctions aren’t so clear.
Here’s my own working definition (drumroll…):

Ethnography is a descriptive approach to cultural diversity.

Taking this definition apart:

  1. Approach This is probably where my definition is the furthest from usual definitions. Instead of saying that ethnography is a research method or a set of research methods. I say it’s an “approach” because it really is a way to “get closer to” a specific subject. “Approach” is one of those terms I like to use because it’s meaningful, complex, and clear all at the same time.
  2. Descriptive We don’t necessarily try to predict, try out, compare, experiment with, transform, explain the cause of, or sell our subject. We just try to say how things seem to be. Sure, it can be a step in a given direction, and that’s where ethnography is understood as method. But we still focus on describing. That’s where the “-graph-” part comes in.
  3. Diversity We don’t just have a clear-cut object that we take apart, dissect, simplify. We have a whole field of subtle differences. Our subject isn’t monolithic, static, or countable. It’s more about nuances and fluidity.
  4. Cultural This is probably the most complicated part and it’s our core object: culture. We come from (and frequently refer to) the nature/nurture debate, we’re on the side of nurture. Not that we think nature doesn’t count. Just that we focus on the other side.

What’s Informal about Informal Ethnographer?

A number of things, actually.
One thing which might be kinda clear, by this point, is that I’m not very formal in the way I write, here. Sure, it probably doesn’t sound as informal as if we were having a conversation in a café or a pub. But it’s a far cry from a peer-reviewed academic journal, a report for a major corporation, or even an article in a mainstream newspaper. I’ve been using a more informal style because it fits. At the same time, I’m not trying to do anything too “cute” or fake. I’m just writing in a way that makes sense to me.
Which has a lot to do with the kind of guy I am. I don’t think I’m fussy or stuffy about pretty much anything. I like to be casual in just about everything I do. This site is a part of that: I want to be myself.
Besides, this site is meant as social media and social media stuff is usually pretty informal. There are some people who complain but the way normal people (as opposed to, say, news organizations) write things online can be found in different styles, from l33tspeak to lolspeak. I probably won’t use IMspeak here, but that’s mostly because I don’t do much IM.
This site is also informal in that it’s not supposed to be academic. I have formal training in academic disciplines and I’ve been teaching in a number of universities, but this isn’t a university site. It’s my own personal site about something I love.
Moreover, I’m not doing any formal research that I will make public, here. Ethnographic projects in which I may be involved are in the background, but I don’t wish to talk about them on this site, partly because it can get tricky in terms of confidentiality. There are ways to solve these issues, but I don’t feel like dealing with those issues too directly.
In other words, this site and any of its content aren’t meant to be reliable, valid, vetted, or even that serious.

What’s on This Site?

So far, not much. I’m in the process of adding more stuff on here and I want to keep this site dynamic. But apart from this page, there’s not a lot of content on this site so far.
Still, I want Informal Ethnographer to have a few things:

  1. Blog I’ve created a blog through and I plan on posting a few things on it, on occasion. I call it Headnotes: The Informal Ethnographer Blog (or HIEB for short).
  2. Podcast Through that blog, I’ll host an audio podcast, with monthly episodes on different themes. I call it Rapport: The Informal Ethnographer Podcast (or RIEP for short).
  3. Pages Apart from the blog and podcast, this site is built through Google Apps. Like anything found in the left-hand “Navigation” section (such as the Acronyms page), the page you’re reading is built in Google Sites, “a free and easy way to create and share webpages.” I want to use it to post some content related to ethnography and I already have a number of ideas of what could be added.
  4. Gadgets Still through Google Apps, I’m getting a few neat tools, some of which could be put to good use on a site about ethnography. No big promises here, but I can already see a few cool uses for these tools.

How Can I Reach You?

Simplest way is to email me at
You can also find me on and on Twitter.

Can I Contribute to this Site?

Actually, yes, you can. The tools I use allow for collaborative work and I can already imagine myself having podcast cohosts, podcast guests, and guest writers. If you’re interested in contributing, contact me.