i was thinking and…



I literally just got done reading “Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography” by Sarah Walls. It was an interesting read for sure, but it brought me back to my worries about what I am pursuing for this thesis.

I couldn’t help but think back to a conversation that I had with my boss one day. I essentially came to realize that although I knew what ethnography was, it also seemed to be the one thing that I felt I was still lacking in (knowledge of ethnography I mean). To know what something is is not enough. I had to do more research on it. I scheduled a conference with my boss, and she gave me so much invaluable research to start with, as well as questions to start asking myself.

In reading this article today, I realized some of the bigger ideas and concepts that could potentially poke holes in what I am trying to do. I was always aware of the fact that I would have to be careful with the way that I went about this autoethnography. I want to make sure I am presenting myself in the way that I intend to, and in the most appropriate and authentic way. Further, though, I have to consider the scope of this thesis and my intentions for it. Am I solely doing this to be published after? I mean, I feel like I can answer that question now… absolutely not. I am doing this for myself, but also for the greater good of the academic and creative communities. I want to give back to other scholars and students.

Ambition is the path to success. Persistence is the vehicle you arrive in. –– Bill Bradley

There were a lot of relevant points and counterarguments brought up in Walls’ article that still need to be addressed for anyone doing this kind of self reflective work. There still seems to be a bit of hesitation with ethnography and if it counts as legitimate research. There are also questions of the ways in which one can go about evaluating this kind of personal writing.

If I could give my personal opinion right now in this post, I would say that storytelling as a form of research is absolutely legitimate, but nine times out of ten, my personal opinion might not matter. So, then will my personal accounts in this thesis event matter? I would like to assume so. However, if my thesis is deemed as invalid on a broader scale, then I am okay with that. Anything that I do on a daily basis provides for me a greater understanding of myself, but doing this kind of work now is also allowing me to help others. Some of the most important learning moments in my life happened form others telling their stories, and if my story can be a blessing to some other student who is struggling with their identity or forming and solidifying their own voice then I want to be part of the solution for them. I want to inspire. That is the most important thing to me, and that is what makes me happy.


Wall, Sarah. “Easier Said than Done: Writing an Autoethnography.” International Journal of Qualitative Methods, vol. 7, no. 1, 2008, pp. 38–53.,  doi:10.1177/160940690800700103.


6 thoughts on “i was thinking and…

  1. From my viewpoint you could spend a career arguing whether autoethnography is a valid research approach. It’s good you are addressing it, but I’d urge you to put aside this worry that your thesis will be valid. I get to make that call, and if it wasn’t you’d be hearing from me.

    Remember you are not over in the science department, you have the latitude to take a storytelling, self inquiring approach. Address this issues of this as a methodology, but let’s just move on it. You mentioned:

    There were a lot of relevant points and counterarguments brought up in Walls’ article that still need to be addressed for anyone doing this kind of self reflective work.

    So what are these? Address these, acknowledge them when you describe your approach. You do not have to defend it in the vein of your work not being valid, just show that you have considered the issues.

    Trust in those closing words- you have a question, curiosities about identity formation and expression through poetry, and the means of how poetry is created. This is and will be valuable to others.

    No one can or will know you as you know you, If you want to consider some issues of internal observations, than design in some aspect of maybe interviewing / surveying others to get their perspective on your work.

    It’s time, if not already, to be showing, writing about what your approach will look like. I’m still seeing mainly conceptually.

    Your thesis is valid, now get to it, ok?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Professor Levine. I wholeheartedly concur that it is something that could be argued again and again, but I do not intend to continue that particular argument. I understand my thesis is valid, which is part of the reason I am so excited about it. My wording may need some tweaking if I gave the wrong impression. In keeping with the idea of an open notebook, these were just some immediate thoughts right after reading, but in no way have slowed me down! 😊


  2. Some great options for learning more about the very legitimate pursuit of auto ethnography…

    Denzin, N. K., Lincoln, Y., & Rolling, J. H., Jr. (2006). Special
    issue on autoethnography, critical race theory, and performance
    studies. Qualitative Inquiry, 12, 427-429.

    Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Some resources that might help:

    Ingold, T. Being alive: Essays on movement, knowledge and description

    De Certeau, M. The practice of everyday life.

    Dix, A. (2008). Externalization – how writing changes thinking . Interfaces, 76, pp. 18-19. Autumn 2008. http://alandix.com/academic/papers/externalisation-2008/

    Some articles on personal information visualization and storytelling

    D. Huang, M. Tory, B. Adriel Aseniero, L. Bartram, S. Bateman, S. Carpendale, A. Tang, R. Woodbury (2015). Personal Visualization and Personal Visual Analytics, IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics. 21(3): 420-433. https://vimeo.com/136210716

    Choe, E.K., Lee, N.B., Lee, B., Pratt, W. and Kientz, J.A., (2014) Understanding quantified-selfers’ practices in collecting and exploring personal data. In Proceedings of the 32nd annual ACM conference on Human factors in computing systems (pp. 1143-1152).

    Stusak, S., Tabard, A., Sauka, F., Khot, R.A. and Butz, A., 2014. Activity sculptures: Exploring the impact of physical visualizations on running activity. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 20(12), pp.2201-2210.

    Thudt, A., Baur, D., Huron, S. and Carpendale, S., 2016. Visual mementos: Reflecting memories with personal data. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 22(1), pp.369-378.

    Segel, E. and Heer, J., 2010. Narrative visualization: Telling stories with data. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 16(6), pp.1139-1148.

    Hullman, J. and Diakopoulos, N., 2011. Visualization rhetoric: Framing effects in narrative visualization. IEEE transactions on visualization and computer graphics, 17(12), pp.2231-2240.

    Liked by 1 person

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