Yesterday, in the first session of EPIC2013, Martin Ortlieb asked a question that stopped me in my tracks. Plenty of people, he said, think that big data collection is creepy. Every day, as we interact in a computer-saturated world, bits of information about our personal selves are being collected and deployed by marketing companies to sell us stuff and spy on us.
But are classic ethnographic methods really any different? Don't people find it creepy when us anthropologists go poking around, asking questions?