...to get to know someone or a group of people, you have to lose your own set of beliefs and views and start from scratch as you seek out the functional reasons why things happen.
This method is critical for successfully connecting to people, especially online when you have no physical cues to tell you about a person. In essence, you have to lose your own identity at first, in order to get a better idea of how to best connect to someone new. When you approach a potential link partner, you know very little about that person except for a few clues picked up in the analysis of the site that he or she controls. Your best bet is to pick up that information as quickly as possible, because you have a very limited amount of time to make or break that connection.
Personas makes use of the ethnographic method in SEO and are intensely valuable.
LinkFishMedia owner Julie Joyce writing at SearchEngineLand. This is very interesting: the idea of using what Joyce describes as "ethnographic" techniques to understand who it is that is communicating online.
Once you get basic information, start to dream up a few actual people who fit the profiles that you have, and flesh them out as much as you can.
A typical persona should contain as much identifying information as possible without being so unique that it cannot be used to speak to a larger group. That’s the tricky part, but you can overcome it by imagining common characteristics of users (they like punk rock) rather than specifics that will only fit a tiny percentage of your audience (they like early Avail).