Thesis done!

My thesis, based on my anthropological fieldwork in the Ubuntu community, is finally done, and I turned it in yesterday.

Since I began writing my thesis, I’ve had this as my background screen on my computer:

Don't go native!

Going Native‘ is losing your reflexive anthropological distance by becoming to closely involved with the field. It is taking on some of the cultural traits of the people you study, eventually reaching the point where you can’t even tell yourself apart from your informants.

Naturally, this is a bad point of departure for writing serious anthropological analysis, and I needed that daily reminder not to jump back in to the digital conversation flow on IRC and mailing lists and continue my direct involvement with Ubuntu, which would make writing this thesis so much harder (and most likely make the end result even worse that it has turned out..)

So I left the Ubuntu community for a while, longer than anticipated, actually, as it seems that Parkinson’s Law (stating that “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion”) remains in effect.

Thus, I won’t be able to defend my thesis until late August because the University of Copenhagen summer break in July. And similarly, I won’t have time to make my thesis available on-line until then, partly because the people I quote in the thesis need to have a chance to read and approve of the data I make public, partly because I will be on summer holidays almost continuously until the 27th of July, and partly because my computer died recently, leaving me with little means of working on the go.

But as a little (tiny) appetizer, here’s the front page:

Thesis front page

Later on, I hope to sum up some of my experiences writing this thesis. I haven’t really been very good at posting updates on how my writing has progressed, but I suppose that is in part due to the thesis tunnel vision that sort of blocks out everything else.

Until then, enjoy the summer!


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That is an awesome front page. I really appreciate the topic inference and the design flow of the picture as a whole. Even though it is just text, the arrangement really turns it into a picture. Great job!

Congratulations on completing your thesis! I wish you best of luck for your defense. I look forward to reading it when you post it. 🙂



Awesome job! I too love that front page. Can’t wait to see you back and working in the community. I took my 1 anthropology course, and I think the the instructor made a mess of it, so I am going to take yet another course in the fall with an instructor who is highly rated and the students enjoy. Granted this first course was an introduction, so I am hoping for a little more in excitement.

Anyways, congratulations on getting this finished, I know it is awesome because of the amount of time you put in to it. Cheers!

Hi Michael

This sounds absolutely fascinating. I have been working for the last two weeks on a thesis proposal for a M.Ed on learning theory and the assimilation of new users into the Ubuntu community (Particularly with regards to analyzing barriers that they experience as they move from being simple end users to becoming actively involved with the community.)

I’m still working on the proposal and I have no idea who to present my proposal to as yet. I would love to be able to look at your proposal that you submitted.

Congratulations on finishing the work


Congratulations! I’m sure everyone in the Ubuntu community looks forward to reading your work and then having you back in the community. Next stop for you? PhD?

thanks for the positive comments. I’ll try to put up the rest of the thesis as soon as I can. 🙂

@Weiers: My fieldwork synopsis is available for download in the “Writings” section of this website, so you can easily have a look. And please do not hesitate to ask – I’ve touched upon a bit of learning theory in my thesis which might be of use to you.

@Dinda: PhD? Definitely maybe. But for now, I’ll be looking to find more of a real-life job after so many years in school. Though I won’t begin the job-hunt until I return from my holidays in late July…

Hej Andreas, og et stort tillykke herfra. Det var jo ikke fordi vi fik netværket så meget, men jeg glæder mig på dine vejne og håber at få lov til at læse dit speciale (hvis det er noget du har lyst til at offentliggøre selvfølgelig) og hvem ved, måske får vi os en god snak på en tidspunkt snart. 🙂

God vedfortjent ferie herfra


Hi there,

I suppose you mean it is an insult to native Americans? It is not. It is a common phrase used in anthropology to indicate when you have lost your scientific distance to your field – becoming one of them rather than a reflected participant-observer.

Even so, the fact is that we are all native to some culture or another. So please don’t misunderstand my post as to say that some cultures (such as Native American cultures) are not worth taking part in. That’s not it.

I won’t delete your comment, but I must admit I don’t appreciate your hostile tone.

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