14 July 2010

Ethnography in industry

Be the first to share

PARC
PARC, the legendary California-based research centre owned by the Xerox Corporation, is hosting a series of talks on ethnography in industry. The three talks that took place are already available online in video. More talks are scheduled tomorrow and next week.

Feral Technologies: An ethnographic account of the future [ video | alternate link ]
Genevieve Bell, Intel
3 June 2010

What do rabbits, camels and cane toads all have in common? And why might this be relevant to the future of new technologies. In this talk, I want to explore the ways in which new technologies are following the path of feral Australian pests – in particular, I am interested in the unexpected and unscheduled transformations that have occurred in the last decade. In 1998, an estimated 68% of the world’s internet users were Americans. A decade later that number had shrunk to less than 20%. The complexion of the web – its users, their desires, their languages, points of entry and experiences – has subtly and not so subtly changed over that period. All these new online participants bring with them potentially different conceptual models of information, knowledge and knowledge systems with profound consequences for the ideological basis of the net. These new participants also operate within different regulatory and legislative regimes which will bring markedly different ideas about how to shape what happens online. And in this same time period, the number and kind of digital devices in peoples’ lives has grown and changed. Devices have proliferated with ensembles and debris collecting in the bottom of backpacks, on the dashboards of dusty trucks and in drawers, cabinets, and baskets. Bell explores these feral technology proliferations, in the ways in which they have defied conventional wisdom and acceptable boundaries, and, most importantly, the ways in which they have transformed themselves into new objects and experiences.

Postcolonial Computing: Technology and Cultural Encounter [ video | alternate link ]
Paul Dourish, University of California, Irvine
17 June 2010

“Culture” has become a hot topic in computing research as information technologies become enmeshed in global flows of people, products, capital, ideas, and information. However, while much attention has been focused on the problems of “cross-cultural collaboration” and “cultural difference,” a useful alternative is opened up by thinking about culture from a generative, rather than a taxonomic, perspective — that is, as a framework for understanding and interpreting the world around us, rather than a framework for classifying people. In this talk, Dourish outlines and illustrates an approach that he and his colleagues have been developing, which draws on anthropology, cultural studies, and postcolonial studies to help them examine the contexts of encounter between people, information technology, and culture.

Beyond Ethnography: How the design of social software obscures observation and intervention [ video ]
Gentry Underwood, IDEO
8 July 2010

Human-centered design, i.e., the design of products and services with the needs of the end-user or recipient in mind, has long been lauded as an essential skill in developing relevant and usable software. As software tools move from being about human-computer interaction to human-human interaction (as mediated through some sort of networked device), the focus must shift from extreme-user profiling to something more akin to ethnography, only with an intervention-heavy twist.
Gentry shares learnings from his work in the social software field, offering examples of how his training in ethnography helps him do his job, as well as insight as to where the work must move beyond traditional ethnographic methods in order to be successful.

Ethnography: Discovering the obvious that everyone else overlooks
Stephen R. Barley, Center for Work, Technology and Organization, Stanford School of Engineering
15 July 2010

In this talk, Barley focuses on what he has learned over 30 years about doing ethnography, and illustrate what he sees as ethnography’s central payoff for designers of technology and organizations by drawing on a recent comparative study of automobile dealers.

Ethnography as a cultural practice
Steve Portigal, Portigal Consulting
22 July 2010

Culture is everywhere we look, and (perhaps more importantly) everywhere we don’t look. It informs our work, our purchases, our usage, our expectations, our comfort, and our communications. In this presentation, Steve discusses the use of ethnographic research in the product development process and suggest how an understanding of culture is a crucial component in innovation.

Together with these talks, the PARC blog hosts a number of features on the use of ethnography in industry, highlighting the objectives and the methods.

Be the first to share
23 May 2016
Experientia white paper: “Conducting clinical trials is about working with patients”
Patient-centricity is one of the defining issues facing clinical trials in the pharma industry. The past few years have seen a growing awareness by pharmaceutical companies of the importance of patient-centricity - but they have …
1 May 2016
Report: User Experience and Usability in Complex Systems
User Experience and Usability in Complex Systems Final Report 1/2015 FIMECC (Finnish Metals and Engineering Competence Cluster) November 2015, 225 pages Five years ago, some of Finland’s metals and engineering industry companies were looking for new ways to tackle …
30 April 2016
Security versus UX
Gwendolyn Betts explores how to reconcile one of the biggest challenges in interface design: security versus user experience. Betts writes that it is not uncommon for security measures to be tacked on at the end as …
14 April 2016
Anthropology is not only undersold, it’s misunderstood
Dr. John Sherry, Director of Business Innovation Research at Intel, says in an long profile on Epicpeople that anthropology is not only undersold, but also misunderstood: People too often talk about ethnography as a tool for …
8 April 2016
Markus Giesler on customer experience design
At Experientia, we live the mantra that experience design is always contextual experience design. Understanding and designing for people within a culture, a context and how people evolve and change within these, is at the …
8 April 2016
On the need for ethnography in user experience design
Michael Thomas of Ford Motor Company argues in a thoughtful personal piece that User Experience design is greatly enhanced by establishing classical ethnographic methods as foundational for defining the domain of design intervention. How can UX …
2 April 2016
A selection of Interaction 16 videos
In this post we highlight a number of Interaction 16 conference videos especially relevant to the Putting People First readers. They are grouped thematically. Algorithm-inspired design Crowds, algorithms and computations: The new materials of design - Matthew …
1 April 2016
Financial Times: the inflation enigma requires ethnographic analysis
Gillian Tett is the Financial Times' US Managing Editor, a very frequent writer, and an anthropologist. Her column this week unconventionally argues for on-the-ground ethnographic research on people's expectations on inflation: What we need is not …

We are an international experience design consultancy helping companies and organisations to innovate their products, services and processes by putting people and their experiences first.

23 May 2016
Experientia white paper: “Conducting clinical trials is about working with patients”

Patient-centricity is one of the defining issues facing clinical trials in the pharma industry. The past few years have seen a growing awareness by pharmaceutical companies of the importance of patient-centricity – but they have also illustrated that not everyone is clear on just what patient-centricity is, or how to achieve it. After using UX […]

12 April 2016
The latest on innovation in Energy Efficient Buildings: annual round-up of EU Commission projects

Every year, the Energy-efficient Buildings (EeB) Public Private Partnership (PPP) publishes the EeB PPP project review – a round-up of energy-efficiency projects that have been co-funded by two European Commission schemes. This year, the print and digital booklet design was done by Experientia, in particular by our talented visual and interaction designer Dohun Jang. Experientia […]

8 March 2016
Behavioral modeling – Shaping cultural change and behavioral evolution

One of the things we do here at Experientia that really sets us apart from other UX agencies is behavioral modeling. Our cognitive and behavioral models go beyond the standard customer journeys and personas (both useful tools, and often preliminary steps to behavioral modeling) to create frameworks that can be used to make people more […]

1 March 2016
Singapore’s main newspaper on Experientia’s design with the elderly

Arti Mulchand reports in the Straits Times, Singapore’s main newspaper, on Experientia’s “Design for Ageing Gracefully” project: Putting faces to end-users early in the design process is changing the way designers and organisations are approaching products aimed at Singapore’s growing elderly demographic. Experientia’s ethnographic study, which was commissioned by DesignSingapore Council in a collaboration with […]

18 January 2016
Experientia website completely reshaped

Experientia is pleased to announce that we’ve started 2016 with a brand new website. Experientia’s now officially 10 years old, and we decided that the best way to celebrate is by building a new website that showcases our growth – with new projects, new people in the staff, and two new locations in Lausanne and […]

1 January 2016
For when things get personal…
See all articles