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Erik Kassebaum

Ethnography of

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Shiiba Village Japan

Shiiba Village

Career Bio for Erik Kassebaum

As a management, research and communications consultant, I do a variety of different things. For example, research topics have included: Japan, Iran, product usability, education, critical infrastructure protection, business continuity plan reviews, and intelligence analysis. With respect to organizational development, my specialty is working with product groups (marketing, development, support, etc.) that suffer from one or more of the following issues: schedule slippage, feature creep, cost overruns, quality problems, poor relations with other internal groups, poor relations with external customers, high staff turnover, etc. I've worked with groups that range in size from 3 to 70 people and on projects that took from 3 to 24 months to implement. As an anthropologist who has primarily worked on customer-facing products in the tech industry, I have leveraged my background in qualitative ethnographic research to do neat things in the realm of user-centric product design. I play well with Agile, Waterfall, Hybrid and transitional development environments.

If you have an account on LinkedIn, then you can read for yourself what business associates have said about me. Upon request, I can provide additional references. For government work that might require a security clearance I have had LiveScan (FBI & California Department of Justice) background checks, am a member of the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Global Entry program, and have excellent credit.

Work History 1997-2004

Before starting down this new path as a consultant, I managed the development of customer documentation for the Alcatel-Lucent Litespan Division in Petaluma California.

As a bit of history, I started with DSC's Litespan Division in 1997 and stayed with the company after it was acquired by Alcatel. Not long after my fifth year with Alcatel, my department was outsourced to Kudos Information Incorporated. The branch of Kudos that I worked for was spun off and is now known as Anfield Information.

I lead the Kudos documentation development teams that are responsible for supporting the following Alcatel products: the Litespan-2000 and Litespan-2012 digital loop carriers; the Alcatel Access Management System (AMS); and Litecraft. AMS is an element management system used to monitor and provision Alcatel ASAM and Alcatel Litespan equipment. Litecraft is a craft interface used to turn up and provision Litespan systems. Alcatel's family of digital loop carriers are called Litespans. Litespans provide a wide variety of services to more than 30 million subscribers. There are more than 40,000 Litespan nodes deployed in North America. The Litespan is an integral part of North America's telecommunications infrastructure.

In addition to my role as the team lead for these documentation teams, I also served as a member of the Litespan, AMS and Litecraft release teams. As such I worked closely with key members of Alcatel's marketing, development, verification, and customer support groups. From time to time I also submitted software designs to the marketing and engineering departments. According to one of the product line managers (PLM) that I worked with, one of my designs was worth about $20,000,000. [And no...I'm not exaggerating about the value.]

In addition to writing and assisting with product design, I managed a documentation development lab and intranet site. The lab included a dozen Litespan systems, several PCs, three central office simulators, and a pair of SUN workstations. Let's just say most of the equipment in my lab found its way there sans an official paper trail: The benefits of maintaining friends in interesting places and being an efficient scavenger.

Prior to joining Alcatel I worked as a Web Developer for Lanier Publishing International (LPI). LPI published travel guides. The primary focus of LPI was Bed & Breakfast guides. The LPI web site was database-driven. While I was at LPI, it had sites on AOL, MSN, and CompuServe. LPI also licensed data to other online content providers such as Travelocity, The Bloomberg, etc.

One of the many projects I was responsible for was the "B&B Online Gazette," a biweekly HTML E-mail newsletter. When I took over the development of the newsletter it had 5000 subscribers. After eight months, there were 25,000 subscribers on the list. While at LPI I also planned and oversaw the development and release of the first database-driven sites to appear on AOL and MSN.

Work History 1993-1996

After I returned from Japan in the Fall of 1996 I did some freelance technical writing for Mangajin. Mangajin used Japanese comics (manga) as a means to present the Japanese language to a foreign audience. It also covered popular culture and technology. I wrote three articles for Mangajin's "Computer Column." Topics related to the operation and use of bilingual English/Japanese computer systems. Mangajin was distributed worldwide. Sadly, Mangajin is no longer being published.

From 1993 to 1996 I worked in Japan as an English Teacher for the Shiiba Village Board of Education. I was a Japan Exchange and Teaching Program (JET Program) Participant. I had the unique distinction of being Shiiba's first foreign resident.

In January of 1994, the Yakuba staff asked me write a column in Shiiba Village's monthly newsletter. "Adventures in Shiiba" was about daily life and the mixing of cultures. I wrote "Adventures in Shiiba" in English. Kouichi Higuma and Takashi Kusuda translated my articles into Japanese. To make things easier, I used a writing style suited for translation into Japanese.

Work History 1992-1993

Prior to becoming a JET I worked for Commerce Clearing House (CCH). While at CCH, I analyzed state tax law and coded it for CCH ACCESS, a hyper-linked relational database. In addition I did Quality Assurance (QA) testing; implemented changes in the coding of tax law for the CCH ACCESS database; and edited a revision of the code book used by my department to code tax law for inclusion in the CCH ACCESS database. The definitions in the code book were the heart of the CCH Access State Tax Law Database.

Background Information

My hobbies include studying foreign languages such as Japanese, biking, swimming, gardening and surfing the internet. Since 2012, I have done three traithlons and two mountain bike races. I also volunteer at my daughter's elementary school.

My first Master of Arts is in Anthropology and is from California State University, Chico (1990). My Anthropology MA thesis is titled "Ethnography of Adaptation: Ethnographic Study of Japanese Sojourners in Butte County California." It was based upon a year of participant observation with a group of Japanese students. For links to other qualitative studies, visit Nova Southwestern's "The Qualitative Report An online journal dedicated to qualitative research since 1990."

I held a variety of different part-time jobs while working to complete my degrees in Anthropology. Positions included the following: Dormitory Resident Adviser at Santa Rosa Junior College (SRJC); Tutor (SRJC); Adaptive Swimming Pysical Therapy Assistant (SRJC); Recreation Center Assistant Manager (Vista Del Lago); Warehouse Loader for UPS; Interim Museum Director of the Chico Museum; and part-time Lecturer at CSU Chico. Along the way, I earned a fair number of academic scholarships, was quite frugal, and as result--had very little in the way of debt when I finished school.

My second Master's Degree is in Business and Organizational Security Management and is from Webster University (2006). Most of the faculty that I studied under are members of the law enforcement, military and intelligence communities. My MA thesis is titled "Terrorism and Local Telecommunications Infrastructure: A general and specific examination of local telecommunications infrastructure security." Due to the sensitive nature of the material covered, I am only providing copies of this document to those who make written requests from government or corporate Email accounts (Erik Kassebaum erik.kassebaum@kassebaum.org).

Most of the folks who've worked with me at firms such as Alcatel Lucent or CCH assumed that I had a degree in computer science. Shock, amazement and envy were some of the more popular reactions that coworkers had when they found out that my background was in anthropology. Most found it comforting to be told that I was hard-wired as an anthropologist.

My interest in security management stems from my interest in topics such as information security, critical infrastructure protection, emergency management, business continuity planning, intelligence analysis, terrorism, employee screening, risk management, and offshoring. My MA in Anthropology and work in the field of organizational management dovetails nicely with my degree in Business or Organizational Security Management.

By now, it's probably apparent that I am a firm believer "lifelong learning." As most in my family have at least one advanced degree, it's hard to say whether my aggressive pursuit of interesting knowledge, skills and abilities is due to nature, nurture or mental defect (joke).

Erik Kassebaum erik.kassebaum@kassebaum.org