The primary relationship of fieldnotes is to their writer-reader, the ethnographer who produces them. Yet as objects they are seen, and sometimes read, by others. As Bond, Obbo, and Lutkehaus detail in this volume, these others are diverse—"the other" (as interpretationists are wont to call their informants) whom they are about; other "others" in the society studied but outside the immediate ethnographic range; and other anthropologists: teachers, colleagues, and those who may later read or even inherit and write from the original author's fieldnotes.
Few anthropologists today, or even in the past, hide their researcher role as Mead did among the Omaha Indians. Most take notes openly— at least during ethnographic and formal interviews—though some ethnographers, like Whyte ( 1955, 1960), prefer not to write even scratch notes in front of informants but to rely later on their memory. Informants are aware of writing and its resultant documentary forms, if not of all the kinds of notes the anthropologist maintains. On some occasions, particularly rituals and ceremonies, the informants expect ethnographic note-taking ( Powdermaker 1966: 87).