The Xerox PARC ethnographers watch the videotape over and over as their coffee gets cold, as the air conditioner gets stronger toward evening and stirs papers on the table, as the live oaks and brown grass outside the conference room window descend into shadow. Their voices rise and fall as they argue, reframe the analysis a dozen ways, laugh. I can see them through the glass window next to the door, shifting in those straight-backed blue chairs that are so uncomfortable.

They don't know I'm watching them too.

The man on the videotape stops writing on his clipboard and glances at his console. After awhile, you do feel like you know him, are intimate with the way he scrunches his fingers too close to the end of the pencil. You can tell from the wrinkles in his forehead that he has one of those vague unlocalized headaches you can get when your glasses are too strong.

I don't think that's what one of my colleagues meant when he said today that he had no quarrel with ethnographers falling in love with their subjects. That it was only natural after all the time they spend together.

That there was no objectivity anyway.


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