Friday, July 15, 2005


participant video studies

Disposable camera studies have been around ten or more years. Participants in a study are asked to document something about what they do, or perceive. The outputs can be interesting, can offer a great stimulus material for participants to discuss with researchers.

Now we have the ability to do video studies in the same way. Rather than lend expensive digital video cameras to participants, one can now give them a video camera for under $30. - $29.95 one-time-use video cameras ready

This development could be an exciting new chapter in ethnography. I have expected that video diaries would soon emerge, but I expected they would come from video phones, not disposable video cameras. One advantage of video phones is that they are always on the person, so always ready for use.

People can now film how they do an activity, or something they notice. The only danger I see is the potential for junk. Photo taking requires more thought than shooting video. I have seen people forget to take pictures and rush to shoot the roll to have something to bring in. The temptation could be larger for videos: just stream through 20 minutes of random stuff. So video is probably better for self-documenting activity, rather than recording perceptions.

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