After first learning about Ethnographic interviewing the thought I had was to find an owner of a coffee shop. I didn’t know anyone in that direction, so it would not work. Looking to people I knew I thought of the micro-culture of skiing, my sister skis competitively. But I have been skiing for years and it is familiar to me. Then I remembered I have a friend who is training to be a fitness trainer. A person I know, wrapped in a culture I know nothing about, perfect. But it was not. I proceeded to contact her and work out of the details but after everything was secured and I was sitting in class listening to other students talk about their ethnographies I realized no way is that on the right track. The problem was she was not a part of an established micro-culture, she was in training which meant the culture itself had not fully taken root, and I would be piecing together a project with a thousand loose ends.
Finally I thought of my dad, who has been a pilot for thirty yeas and that was concrete, thirty years, that’s established. The day I decided to change micro-cultures I told him I would be interviewing him. I never really asked him, I said something of look, by this time I should have had some work completed and I don’t and you’re my dad so, you’re going to help me. He was left there figuring out what the heck ethnography was.
I went out and bought a voice recorder, thinking, what the heck is this, I’ve never used one of these before, it records voices that’s weird, I’m not going to need it. That weekend we proceeded with the first interview. Well I needed that voice recorder allright. I had never conducted an interview before and I had no idea what I was doing. My dad was like Okay Sarah….what are these “questions” you have to ask me…. And see, I am not a easy going speaker so sitting down to have a formal conversation with someone, even though I knew him, felt weird and awkward and contrived. For the most part it was me reciting the one or two questions I knew I had to ask, and writing down every word I could keep up with. Every fact was golden and I needed those facts I needed them. I had taxonomies to create.
Each interview gets a little smoother as I became more comfortable with the structure of an interview and began discovering how they take place. My informant has had no objections and there have been no disputes to date. He is open, clear, and thorough with each question and has been since the beginning of this Ethnography. I have more information than I could have bargained for.