A chameleon among the humanities and social sciences, anthropology explores the human experience through a patchwork of methods and modes of expression beyond the hypothesis, including written stories, documentary film, and computational analysis. Anthropologists have a long history of combining qualitative methods (e.g., ethnography) with computational methods for things like social network analysis, generating kinship diagrams, and even parsing folklore narratives. Software engineering and data science are fundamentally about human behavior problems, yet software engineers and data scientists are poorly equipped for the ambiguity and social impacts of these “human behavior solutions” we release into the world.
Augustina Ragwitz covers fundamental concepts in anthropology to explore what computational anthropology might look like, what happens when we qualify the quantities and thicken the big data, and what tech industry professionals and researchers could learn from an anthropological approach to computational analysis. She highlights open source examples of computational research analysis used in anthropological research on GitHub. You’ll also get resources for professional training in ethnography and connecting with applied anthropologists working in the industry to help your career growth.
Augustina Ragwitz is an open AI advocate for computational anthropology and anthropology of computation at IBM. An anthropologist, software hacker, and open source advocate, Augustina has a plethora of computer industry experience in a wide range of roles from highly technical (software engineer, DevOps) to highly human (customer support, technical writing). She spends her time analyzing open source communities and discovering AI use in unexpected places.
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