My interview about ethnography and community relevance with Market Sentinel’s Dhiren Shingadia

(re-posted from

Somehow the internets connected Dhiren Shingadia and I, which then evolved into a skype convo and then his interview with me: Understanding communities through ethnography (I recommend reading it here on Future Lab - better formatting).

Here are some of the questions that Dhiren asked me

As a sociologist and ethnographer, what are the core outputs of your studies at the moment?

What are the types of questions that you are asked the most?

Corporations, advertising agencies and communications consultancies are all moving to deliver cultural relevance or a degree of value to real-world communities. What are your thoughts on this?

From your perspective, are these actions translating into a greater a demand for research and ethnographic skills?

Your work requires you to observe people and investigate what motivates their actions and behaviour. Is the “power of the peer” as strong outside of west as it is in?

And finally…your work takes you across the globe, from one place to place another, and this allows you to become familiar with societies from all walks of life. Outside of the US, which country or region has some of the most interesting digital practices? Do any activities surprise you?

What can we learn from this country?

So Dhiren and I chatted about our interests, the future of the internets, innovation, social media, Baidu, China, building communities, and cultural relevance. I explained to him the strategy I’ve been using since I started community organizing 8 years ago in NYC, which is that I focus on achieving community relevance, not cultural relevance.

Oh and yes we also addressed the gazillion dollar question - what will happen when China rules the world? 

Dhiren also has an amazing blog full of intellectual and silly goodies - I knew the moment that I went on his blog, Uba Contraversie, that I would love his energy! and I turned out to be right! Here’s Dhiren’s twitter, another twitter-trove of goodies. 

oh and through Dhiren I found his colleague, Eli Gothill’s post on the rise of financial activism - definitely something to keep an eye on for the future.

tricia wang