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Erik OBrien WEEK 13

In Class:
For those of you have read my previous entries you would have been able to glean
that even though my thesis has been okd by my committee I am finding that there are a
lot of holes in what I am doing. I am trying to fix all the holes but I think in the end this
thesis is mostly job training to get me ready for a dissertation someday. Anyway, while
my faith in my project has faltered I have been rejuvenated a bit because lecture this
week indicated that I have observed something important. Dr. Anderson said that most of
the time researchers observe sedimentation; they have to try to figure out why things are
the way they are now. Structurations on the other hand are a lot rarer to observe. Though
I was not conducting the research at the time I can say that I observed structuration in
action at KUTE as they implemented new technology that changed the goals, functions
and policies of the organization. I am still struggling with whether my study is rigorous
enough but I at least know I am looking at something interesting. I observed change and
now I am experiencing the aftermath (though things are still changing just not as
dramatically.).
While I am not doing ethnography for my project I am still very interested in the
participatory element of ethnography and the role of participation in my own work. As
you will read in my centerpiece update I did some observation on two DJs/directors
shows. It started out as simple observation but then I was invited to partake and join in
on the show. I was able to participate. At this point I am not exactly sure what role my
participation played in this exchange, I imagine it made them more comfortable with my
presence, I was no longer silently judging and taking notes in the corner. Though it is not

a scholarly finding participating in this context was at its core simply fun. In previous
writing I have said that I should have studied a group that was more interesting like Dr.
Anderson studying the mule club. I should think of participation as an important part of
picking a research subject. I am not saying you should pick a group you like to study. For
example it would not be interesting for me to study a mountain biking group. However,
even though I do not enjoy shooting guns it would be really interesting to try to do an
ethnography of a hunting group, I think I would learn a lot. Similarly it would be cool to
do an ethnography of seasonal wilderness firefighters. My participatory action at KUTE
has been fun; I just wish it were outside instead of in a glass cage.
Now for an update on the story of the adventures of the 23 year old in privileged
career crisis. I watched the public ethnography video and from a research standpoint I
think this is very appealing. Though I am not 100% sure of Dr. Andersons thoughts, this
seems to be along the lines of what he was talking about with regard to making our
research useful to the community. If I were to continue my formal education I think I
would try to steer it in this direction. Maybe its the touching music or the wealth of
tender close ups used in the video, but what makes this so appealing to me is that the goal
is to help others (and also furthering careers). I have said to myself and indicated in my
previous writing that I am not sure if I have the chops to do a PhD and at the very least I
plan on taking a break from academia for a bit. I think then about my career options. I
have two goals in life 1. Be kind 2. Help the ones I love do the amazing things I know
they can accomplish1. I want to help people in my career. I have isolated a few

But then again I could just be saying this so you will think highly of me. Personally I
am not sure if I have these goals truly or if it is just performative to make people
1

possibilities such as working in production (video and audio), teaching, HR, working for
some software companies and so on. The production line of work is probably the most
likely and has the possibility to be an indirect kind of good, making content that shines a
light on a certain topic or brings the viewer pleasure. That being said, indirect good is
great and all but what brings me joy is helping people directly. I am not talking becoming
a white knight and helping out the starving masses with my superior intellect and
knowledge as to what others need. For example, I have loved my time up here at the
university both as a student and an instructor, but you know what makes me the happiest?
What really makes my day? When someone is lost in LNCO and they ask me for
directions and I can point them in the correct direction, that is what makes me feel the
best. I look back and out of all the jobs I have had, instructor, documentarian, radio
AGM, freelance video that has included stuff at Sundance and major conferences, my
favorite job was when I was a janitor in high school and I got to help the staff get
students onto the bus every now and again (the students were severely disabled). Maybe I
should just be like my fellow humanities masters graduates and get a job in the service
sector, who knows I might get some joy from it.
Centerpiece update:
Though it is not part of the 5 steps I outlined for myself with my centerpiece I
followed Dr. Andersons advice, which was to augment some of my online interviews
with some real life interaction. I did do a little bit of questioning but what was most
interesting to me was how different my interviewees seemed when conducting their

think I am a nice guy and if it turns out I do really believe this I am pretty sure it is
pretty naive but I have the rest of my life to figure that out.

rather than how they talked about in the email interviews. Small disclaimer I only
observed two of the three interviewees because of scheduling conflicts (thanksgiving
break). I will refer to these two people as M and E. M is our male operations director
and E is female and the programming director.
M was a guest on Es show when I sat in. From my email interview with M he
made his identity sound very structured saying that contrary to the frat dude persona
espoused in popular media his identity was more responsible he describes it as being
someone who dispenses good advice on the radio, and in general, uses it as an avenue for
helping those in the community and being a voice for the community in some ways.
Though it is not my place to say what benefits the community the way M made it sound
in the interview was that he was exclusively a public radio style Ira Glass type. However
when observing M in the studio, he was a real showman. Sweeping impassioned
statements, theatrics, and more like the character bulldog from Frasier, despite saying
he views him as a stereotype that he did not identify with. An example of Ms theatrics
was he got into an argument with E about Toby McGuires acting abilities and got so
mad (fake anger) he stormed out of the studio, it was comedic.
I am wondering if my project is making the next logical leap. I am beginning to
wonder if after coding for my interviews I can see how these match up with the actions I
have observed in the field. Es performance on the air was not as extreme as Ms but it is
a bit different from the short email interview. In the interview she talks a lot about how
its a great place for students to get their voice out and how it helped E find her own
voice. The tone of the interview seems more like something the person-recruiting
freshman to go to the U would say about it. E, despite saying she had trouble being on the

air is masterful as running a show, keeping things moving and knowing when to cut
someone off. The identity E performed was not the E I heard in the interview.

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