I watch people for a living.
Sometimes I talk to them, other times I don’t. I’d like to think that what I learn makes the world a better place, but you never really know. The ethnographer Bronislaw Malinowski ended his classic work Argonauts of the Western Pacific by reminding us that:
“The Science of Man, in its most refined and deepest version should lead us to such knowledge and to tolerance and generosity, based on the understanding of other men’s point of view.”
I am a Scientist of Man. Wait. No, that’s not right. Let me try that again. I’m a sociologist. Hmm. That’s not quite it either. What do I do? What am I? For that matter, is what I do ultimately who I am?
When you learn from people for a living, the lines between your work life and personal life aren’t just blurred, they disappear. I’m not sure what/who I am anymore – I’ve been hired, first and foremost, as an ethnographer, but the fact that I don’t study exotic cultures (well, not usually anyway) just confuses people.
I’ve been paid to be a sociologist, an anthropologist, a brand strategist, an adjunct professor, a behavioral analyst, a videographer, a photographer, a social science strategist, a consumer insights researcher, an ideation facilitator, and a writer. Whatever the job title has been, the goal has been to innovate. To glean insights from everyday life and share them with other people who use my work to change the world, based on an understanding of other men’s (and women’s) point of view. I am a storyteller, with a vision.
Maybe I am a Scientist of (Hu)Man after all. Maybe it really is that simple.
Creepy? Or cool? Let’s explore and see what we find…