Short video clips contain lots of data. Use them to document short processes, from ‘exotic’ greetings, to how employees perform tasks.
Let’s start with "what the Hell is visual anthropology?" Pretty much, the Society for Visual Anthropology describes it as "the use of images for the description, analysis, communication and interpretation of human behavior."
So, "what’s visual anthro useful for?" It has several uses, ranging from filmmaking and museum exhibition, to mapmaking and kinship diagraming, to a bunch of other stuff that’s over my head. One of my favorite uses, however, involves using short video clips to document simple processes. After all, clips can offer lots more data than still photos, while still only taking seconds to capture.
For example, with just a few short seconds of video, anthropologists could document how Hadzabe huntsmen string their bows. We could document a Morrocan greeting ritual. Or, if you’re a business anthropologist, you could document how employees perform tasks.
A case in point, consider this clip I captured during my little adventure in Chinatown. After stumbling across Golden Gate Fortune Cookie Factory, I decided to video its workers stuffing the fortunes into the cookies, and loop that video into an SWF. (Note: SWFs are FLASH objects, which may not appear on some mobile browsers. Sorry.)
"Why should anybody care about this clip?" Well, for starters, it documents the process by which fortunes get stuffed into fortune cookies. That’s just neat to know! [Laughs Out Loud] More practically, however, this clip offers something useful to all businesses. Workplace efficiency data.
For example, after watching this clip loop a few times, two things jumped out at me:
• At a rate of 5 cookies every 20 seconds, the frontmost worker could stuff +7000 fortune cookies a day. Damn! I wouldn’t get that many fortune cookies even if I ordered Chinese food EVERY NIGHT FOR 19 YEARS.
• The workspace may need rearranging. Instead of drawing fortunes one-at-a-time from the bin on her left, the frontmost worker grabs a bunch of fortunes at once, piles the fortunes on a cooling rack meant to hold cookies, and draws from that pile.
What else can you see in this clip? For example, what are the workers in the background doing? How safe do those machines look? How sanitary is their food handling? Does that apron go with her shirt? [Joke.] Of course, any other comments are welcome, too! Even short, stupid, and repeated ones. Seriously, I put a lot of thought into these posts, and I love it when people discuss them. So be awesome, click here, and leave a comment! No email or registration required. Yay, free speech!