Take off that lab coat and break bread

Belly laughs at CDI Chile.TASCHA researchers Maria Garrido and Beth Patin are in Chile conducting crisis informatics research. Essentially they want to understand the role that community technology centers and libraries played in the aftermath of the Chilean earthquake/Tsunami.

I haven’t been to the field with Maria in a while, but one of her great strengths as a researcher is her enthusiasm, empathy, and solidarity with her participants. She cares about them. This is expressed in a million tiny ways, but this picture ¬†does it for me: laughter and celebration.

When working with nonprofits especially, there are many issues which are difficult to openly discuss because their funding hinges on the external perception of their work. How can an organization admit mistakes? Andy and others have called this “the dance of deception” because everyone has incentive to shade the story–organizations, funders, and even researchers. The interpersonal arts of putting people at ease and communicating trust are essential skills for social scientists. These skills are important while collecting, interpreting, and presenting evidence. Take off that lab coat and let’s share a meal…

With bad asses like Maria and Beth in the field, I’m really looking forward to the findings. Looks like lots of good work happening.