Auto-ethnography Everything

First, the hyphen is purposeful. The researchers using auto-ethnography no longer use the hyphen and have just made it one word. As a lover of hyphens (the keep my very identity together after all) I use the hyphen when I can, in less formal writings such as this.

Ethnography – the systematic study of culture. Auto – the acknowledged me. On the one hand, this could be considered egotistical or even ethnocentric. However, I find if I don’t let my readers know how it is I’m understanding things, miscommunication ensues. This is because I was raised in a covertly


fundamentalist religion. Auto-ethnography everything is honestly what I have to do to make sense of anything. I did not fit and could not stay where I came from and because of where I came from, wherever I go I’m the odd-one. Encountering cultures such as higher education “academia” in often Amelia-Bedelia-like fashion. Auto-ethnography is reflexive, reflective, so I get what’s going on eventually.

During my time as a graduate student, any time I get to do something I’m much happier and engaged. Granted, I don’t know that these projects turn out very well (see my hypertext final, my audio-ethnography of running project, or my Omeka-Neatline historical map timeline), but then again, neither does my academic prose. There’s enough data and reading to say, I pretty much stink at it. And, I’m not sure that I’m going to have a very good academic career because I actively resist writing the genre of peer-reviewed journal articles. I’m sorry folks, they are 90% of the time, painful, painful to read. It’s not that I don’t get jazzed about the ideas – once I’ve dug them out it’s awesome! It’s just that they would never, ever, ever retain my audience-readership if it weren’t required reading. Which is sad, because the ideas are usually awesome and important. It is equally painful for me to write this way too. So for my teaching tech writing class, I’m happily diving into a relevant tangent of my own side ifixit project: fixing my old-ass Seiko Metronome.

First, I begrudgingly followed ifixit’s advice for shooting good photos. It was a pain to get the white matte background, dig out my old digital camera and come up with some homemade tripods. One of my photos didn’t turn out quite right and I sorta gave up.  I think I could only get a clear shot if I grabbed a partner to take the photo. Visual communication has never been my strong suit. Neither has information design. I know the form and precision of the visual is important though. So I basically am trusting the experts on this and slowing the process way down, so I do it right (or at least a basically okay job). Unlike some scholarly journal articles, tech writers aren’t trying to sound smart. But just like scholarly journal articles they are struggling to communicate ideas. The audiences for both  might begrudgingly be there, so the easier it is to decipher, the better.

The next step that I still feel a bit embarrassed and incredulous about is looking up my tools. It does really work, even with a photo to accompany it, to say, “Use this thingy to take out the screws.” I feel like I hadn’t been away from the real world for that long but apparently I have. And in an effort to not wash-out of my PhD program I more and more have the mindset of, “not relevant to my work? Not remembering it.” This is how, I realized doing this project, I’ve become the cliché smart-ish academic with little to no common sense. Or at least, I’ve lost the jargon to convey that I have any common sense. I check and can change my oil and like doing it. What is that wrench thingy called to take off the oil filter? No idea. I’ll google it later. So, I looked up what type of tools I was using to fix my metronome so I could intelligibly write the process of fixing it.

The end result is, following concepts and formats from ifixit, a guide to fixing the possibly immortal metronome. The conclusion is that photographing something well is really, really difficult to do without a second pair of hands.

I Fixed It!

This is my metronome.

This gadget is at least 15 years old.

It turns on, off with the option for beeps and dots keeping the beat or only dots no beeps. You turn the speed up and down to whatever beat you are supposed to be playing and practicing your music to.

I remember practicing my clarinet with it and I’m pretty sure it was during my middle school years. So it’s at least 15 years old. And until recently ran perfectly  without any problems. I probably would’ve just thrown it away but because we were working on ifixit projects in English 534, I decided to fix it instead.


Troubleshooting the Seiko Metronome

  • Metronome buttons inconsistently respond

This probably means the buttons are wearing out. As yet I can’t help you with that but you can try opening up the back and resetting to the battery (take it out and put it back in) to see if it helps.

  • Metronome performs inconsistently

It behaves like it’s possessed (erratic performance, stuck on a certain setting, etc.). The buttons stop responding or “over respond” to adjustments. If this happens a battery reset is in order. You can also check with visuals below if the wires are in the same places.

  • Metronome will not turn on

Time for a new battery!


Battery Replacement or Reboot

CR 2025 3v lithium battery & slot screw driver

To replace or reboot your metronome you will need a CR2025 3 volt lithium battery. I couldn’t snap of photo of the ID on the battery itself because it’s so reflective that all you see is a reflection of the camera. But here is the matte side of the battery as well as the size 0 precision (aka very small) slot screw driver you’ll need to get the battery out.

You will also need a size 00 precision phillips screw driver to get the screws out. If you have a slot screw driver size 00 it would do the job of both taking the screws out and the battery out.

First, unscrew the four screws on the back of the metronome.


The screws are pretty tiny to I suggest putting them in a baggy or a bowl, or containing them somehow so you don’t lose them.

Next use your slot screw driver to pop out the battery.

If desired you can gently clean the inside with canned air or a soft cloth. If you are rebooting you will replace the same battery. If you know the battery is dead, be sure and put in a new battery. Checking with a reboot first is a good idea, as it turned out mine started working again with a reboot so I’ll save those batteries for when the time comes!

Gently snap the battery back into place by hand.






Fit the back cover into place and screw the screws back into place with the 00 phillips screwdriver.



That’s it! Happy (and precise) rehearsals with your good-as-new metronome.

Good as new!


Summary of Chapter 5 from Solving Problems

Porter, James E. 2013. “How Can Rhetorical Theory Inform the Practice of Technical Communication?” In Solving Problems in Technical Communication, 125–45. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.


Chapter 5 of Solving Problems introduces rhetoric theory to technical communication. For those studying rhetoric and composition it seems only natural. However this book is directed towards undergraduates and the author of the chapter, James Porter, is attempting to persuade them that theory isn’t “merely and academic enterprise” and with an example problem from “Max” introduce how this might be so.

The first thing that Porter does is define theory. I appreciated how he defined it for multiple contexts. He then poses the question: what does theory do? The answer as I parsed it out is that one theoretical piece read by itself cannot be understood. In order to fully understand you have to reread, research, learn context, and ultimately for Porter, we arrive at inventio to find and to create.

Next Porter tackles how broad and complex the term writing itself is. Theory can, he reasons, help us to better understand and use writing. Or, as I understood from his student anecdote, we will communicate and design information poorly without the theoretical framework (best case scenario) or if we do get it right it will be much less efficient.

So my question is, is Porter simply theory in practice a tool for analysis that later leads to refining the skill that the theory analyzing?

And my next question is, how to make sense of what does indeed seem obvious?I guess I am just thinking that with learning tech writing, learning to teach it too, it’s not that it’s easy it’s just that it isn’t looking to have a Derridian or Foucaldian delivery. In fact, nothing would ever get done or communicated if we communicated like that. The theory of communicating effectively and efficiently. I like it here.