What are the people going to Sónar looking for?
Foto: Stephen Arnold (Unsplash)
Israel H. Ros
Some twenty researchers will carry out field work on the experience of the people going to the festival

The UOC's Mediaccions research group and RMIT's Digital Ethnography Research Centre (DERC) are to undertake a digital ethnography study at Sónar. It forms part of the Digital Ethnography in Practice summer school course being run jointly by the two universities and Sónar. The participants in the study will carry out intensive research into the experience of going to music and tech festivals, how people move and interact with the different agents, spaces and events. The aim is to use a qualitative approach to gain a better understanding of how the audience rates the festival.

Beyond big data: qualitative analysis on the ground

This year, Sónar is expected to be attended by over 115,000 people coming from more than 100 countries. Digital ethnography has the chance to use a qualitative approach to assess the individual and collective experience of the those attending the festival. This innovative research method looks to explore the links between people and technology in practice by living alongside those attending and following their day-to-day activities at the event. It also involves incorporating digital technologies into the research.

Being this close will let the researchers go beyond other techniques, such as big data, which can collect large amounts of data on people's movement and interaction without detailed understanding of the meanings, reasons or motivations. Companies like Google, Samsung, Intel or Microsoft already use these qualitative techniques to find out about and better understand their users' behaviour, aspirations and needs.

UOCPastora Martínez, Vicerector of the UOC; Elisenda Ardèvol, Professor at Faculty of Arts and Humanities; Sarah Pink, Director of DERC and Marta Fernández, executive director of RMIT.

Among the professors involved, one name stands out: Sarah Pink, director of DERC and an international expert in digital ethnography. She will give a public lecture at Sónar+D titled "Design, Ethnography and Technology in a World of Uncertainty" on Thursday 15 June at 5 pm.