Now Hiring: ethnographers to research the future of the Internet

The NGI Forward project, part of the topic Next Generation Internet - An Open Internet Initiative is a EC Horizon 2020 project focused on developing a more human-centric Internet: supporting values of openness, cooperation across borders, decentralisation, inclusiveness and protection of privacy, as well as giving users the ability to help create an Internet they trust. We are focused on understanding people’s own perspectives on the Internet and desired futures for it to inform long term strategies and policies. We intend to convene a large online conversation in which people discuss these issues, performing continuous ethnographic analysis on it.

We are looking to hire two or more ethnographers to collaborate with us on this project. This would run for about two and a half to three years on a part-time basis (approximately 20% of your time). We think it would suit graduate students well, who might re-use the work for a thesis or papers (everything is open access), but we will consider any applicant. We have a total budget of about 57,600 Euro (the equivalent of one full time person). Depending on candidates, time commitment, and language capability, we can split this between 2-4 people.


  • Trained in the theory and practice of ethnography.
  • Comfortable performing online ethnography.
  • Experience with qualitative data analysis, specifically qualitative coding. The software is unimportant as we have our own, which you will be trained to use.
  • Ability to collaborate with other ethnographers coding the same dataset in different languages.
  • Flexibility and willingness to engage in productive dialogue around coding decisions— good communication skills are a must.
  • Strong organization skills – must be available for weekly check-ins and document coding choices in a shared open codebook.
  • Good knowledge of English as well as fluency in one or more of the following languages: French, German, Italian, Polish.


  • Code the conversations, using a tool we built in-house called Open Ethnographer.
  • Build an ontology of relevant codes, appropriate to ethnographic coding of the online conversation, and keep a detailed and organized codebook.
  • Collaborate with other ethnographers to maintain a consistent multi-language coding ontology.
  • Help to compile an ethnographic report at the conclusion of the project.
  • Participate in the discussion towards improving both Open Ethnographer and the SSNA methodology.

The kind of qualitative coding we do has an added element to it: we use the codes to build a social semantic network, mixing ethnography and network science to produce a visualisation of the convened conversation. Thanks to the ethnography, the network visualisation shows not only who is talking to each other (the social network), but also what they are talking about (the semantic network, built from ethnographic codes). This method of inquiry preserves the richness of conversation but provides a higher-level view and allows for some quantitative analyses. With social semantic network analysis (SSNA), we can identify networks of codes, and measure their cohesiveness; identify emergent networks of specialists, who interact around specific keywords; and validate individual contributors, among other applications (to learn more, see here).

As part of the role, you can also use the ethnographic/SSNA data to produce publications. In fact, we would encourage you to.


You can do the work online, from wherever you are, but you will be requested to participate in one or more physical meetings. Your travel expenses for these meetings will be covered.
If you happen to be in Brussels or Stockholm, you can also come work at the Reef or Blivande (our workspaces), but that’s not a requisite. We coordinate and communicate through the Edgeryders platform.

How to apply

Write to Include:

  • A short motivation letter, explaining why you want to do this and why you think you can deliver.
  • A CV.

Applications will be reviewed as they are received until openings are filled.