Friday, September 22, 2006

Tech: Ethnography of web sites

What does ethnography have to do with web sites?

What is ethnography?

Well, I had to look it up. It's field-study anthropology. In effect, studying cultures in the field, over a period of time - years, maybe! - and writing it up, perhaps in a comparative sense, perhaps on and of the culture by itself.

The second talk at a recent Web Directions seminar (previous posted on Remember The Milk) was from a guy who was hired to investigate the use of a sports web site, and how to improve its attraction to sports fans.

The researcher was ideal: like me, he had very little interest in sports. That, I feel, made the study less skewed, more... anthropological, in fact.

It was apparently a worthwhile exercise. He identified what drove sports fans, what they wanted to read about, how, when and why.

He had a couple of terms that demonstrated his success in coming to grips with the subject matter: BARGs and CORFs. That is, depending on whether your team wins, you:

Bask in Reflected Glory; or
Cut Off Reflected Failure.

And whichever side you supported, you want to see reasons for the result in what you read.

Of course, I tested it out on someone whose team was losing. It was close to the finals, and he was CORFing so much he baulked whenever the subject was mentioned.

And the web site that this bloke helped improve so much? Well, I'm not a commercial forum, but if you're a sports fan, you can ask me... and then you can tell me how successful you feel it is.

1 comment:

Bazza said...

Hi Stephen. I am a sports fan but I don't look at sports-related web-sites much. However, I do recognize the stereotypes!
I didn't realise that there were people who do that for a living, although I shouldn't be suprised!