18 January 2018

Towards multi-dimensional ethnography

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In this paper, Julia Katherine Haines, user experience researcher at Google, argues for the value of multi-dimensional ethnography. She explores the potential for ethnography to venture beyond sites, into different dimensions.

As an example of work moving in this direction, she presents a new approach, dubbed TRACES, which emphasizes the assemblages that constitute our lives, interweaving digital, embodied, and internal experiences. Various data streams and sources provide different vantage points for analysis and synthesis.

She illustrates how her team has used these to gain greater insight into the human lives it studies, with different data sources providing different perspectives on a world, then delve into our use of tools, data sources, and methods from other traditions and other fields, which, combined, give the team not only a more holistic picture, but a truer one, which refutes the false dichotomy of the digital and the real.

Julia argues that we must continue to adapt and extend ethnography today into such spaces, and that reformulating the sites of ethnography as dimensions enables us to envision future subjects and objects of study in different ways.

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