Data Model for Edgeryders Studies

Hey all! Collecting and articulating thoughts for next steps. Both involve as a key next step evolving how we are able to import other kinds of data onto our platform.

I see our data model combining two approaches:

  1. Breadth - this is the ethnographic/qualitative research at scale.

  2. Depth - engaging deeply with specific communities as is the strength of traditional anthropology.


This approach primarily involves figuring out how to import conversational data from outside the Edgeryders platform onto the platform.

We get the “quantity” from combining our work with the kind of work that Anders does at TANT-lab, for example.

Suggested approach:

  1. Define the research question. Say — relationship between climate change and food security in small communities.
  2. Use web-scraping tools like Anders and co use to collect a relevant quantity of posts and comments from social media and other sources, using a number of codes defined based on the RQs (e.g. climate change, food security).
  3. Host chat conversations like the ones @nadia is dreaming up right now and import them onto platform.
  4. Ethnographers code this content. We think of creative ways to induce SSNAs. There will be less length in posts, but more posts, so we end up seeing what few concepts people consistently address together (shorter posts with fewer co-occurrences, but more posts).

This leads to a “birds-eye” view of an issue – we get a large quantity of respondents and data (aiming for that “representative sample size”) so we have a baseline to compare the findings of the ethnographic research to.


These are the ethnographic studies based in communities working on the edge – the core of Edgeryders’ practice from the beginning.

  1. We work with communities of changemakers doing creative and innovative work in their communities, often outside of the vision or scope of “big” institutions like the EC.

  2. Our engagement is community-focused – our goal is not to get X number of participants on the platform, it is to engage deeply with a smaller amount of communities. We really dig deeply into the why, understanding their worldviews, practices, issues, etc. Community managers like @johncoate and @MariaEuler then also have an idea of who they are talking to and how their conversations build upon each other as they get to know people in the community better.

  3. We implement our ability to do multi-media coding: we can get creative around what this means. We can have people take us on a video tour of their space, for example, explaining what they do, where, and with whom. We then use in-person resources (post-COVID) to go visit and talk to people there in more depth and detail.

  4. Who exactly those communities are can be emergent in our outreach process, it doesn’t have to be defined at the beginning, but the goal, because this is an ethnographic method, is to engage deeply with them. We start, however, by identifying a few key communities to begin with and outreach to. The outreach focuses on locating this small amount of communities to engage with throughout the project. @nadia

  5. We can use snowball sampling methods to do this – for example, if someone interesting comes onto platform, we can ask them to take us into their community.

  6. We can then invite these communities to our events, connecting them to one another so they can share best practices, enabled by our ethnographic insights.

  7. We use each project to engage deeply with more communities, building a larger and larger amount of coded data and network of communities over time . This means investing in a smaller number of communities more deeply – having comms management engage with people who are interested and taking that connection further – and targeting our outreach toward that end. One-off contributions can then enhance that primary goal, but we focus on the deep community engagement as the primary goal. In projects this means formulating targets as: “we will identify and engage deeply with 5 communities of changemakers in this project” rather than “we will have x number of unique participants”. We can still set numerical targets for number of annotations etc.

This way, we don’t split the difference between depth and breadth, having a “large online conversation” that neither has a representative sample size nor gives us a depth of engagement. We bring together both approaches and do comparative analysis of the two. Our outreach and comms management get to focus on engaging with communities of changemakers rather than chasing numbers.

Also, we expand the kinds of partner data we can analyse, making us a qualitative data analysis hub. We can import TANT-lab style data due to the first objective, and we can import ethnographic and qualitative data from partners due to the second objective (like the interviews they do).

And we work to connect communities to share best practices, resources, and find recipes for building resilient, collectively autonomous communities like @matthias details here. To quote him: “to support and develop a community of changemakers, to pioneer an alternative society with them.”

Next Steps

Trial data models for both of these methods.

Depth: How to import data from other platforms and host chat-based events to then code on-platform (@nadia and @amelia to follow up with @matthias).

Breadth: Model for ethnographers to import data onto platform – field notes, interviews, etc. @alberto and @amelia to discuss by modelling @amelia’s ethnographic practice.

SSNA: Experimenting with different ways to visualise both kinds of data. @alberto @hugi and @amelia in collaboration with the nextgenethno and rebelethno teams.


I bet it really helps for an ethnographer to also be a speed reader.

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