||Abstracts | Bios | Posters
Who We Talk About When We Talk About Users
(KRIS R. COHEN)
I begin with some questions: how have the theories and methods which subtend design research been changed by their
migration from academy to industry? How have they adapted to their new commercial culture? What languages and
customs have they had to acquire to fit in? To address these questions, I consider a facet of design research
which I think most problematically bears the marks of this passage: how we choose who we will study. I go on to
think about both the causes and implications of exclusions so often resident in this choice. The ideal that drives
my analysis forward is that design researchers are in the business of designing not products for "users," but
landscapes of possibility for public life. A final suggestion, inspired by my recent work on Internet-based personal
photography and here briefly sketched, is that design researchers take the publicness of our work more seriously-that
we design for it.
Grass roots campaigning as Elective Sociality (or Maffesoli meets 'social software'): Reflections from the BBC iCan project
This paper is based on ethnographic research conducted during the development phase of the BBC iCan website for
enabling local activism. It relates how the site's early planning, influenced by the 'social software' movement,
did not initially recognize the deeply contextual nature of the grass roots campaigns it was designed to support - causing
it to attempt to mediate the majority of a campaign online. Following two stages of research (informed by Maffesoli's
theories of 'sociality') such campaigning was understood to be rooted in experiential "being together" and not as
'individual' or 'political' as expected. Consequently the site concept was refined.
Ethnography, Operations, and Objectual Practice
This paper raises issues around commercial ethnographic praxis and its relationship to social and cultural theory. Michel de Certeau's theories around everyday life practices and Karin Knorr Cetina's concept of postsocial objectual practice are juxtaposed in order to explore how commercial ethnographic practice might seriously engage with theory and transcend some of the assumptions that currently constrain its application within industry.
Fieldwork and Ethnography in Design - The state of play from the CSCW Perspective
(RICHARD HARPER,DAVE RANDALL AND MARK ROUNCEFIELD)
Ethnography has been a key component of systems design and research now for sometime. In CSCW, ethnography is almost the sine qua non of contemporary practice. But if CSCW has claimed to be unique in its concern for understanding the subtleties of work as it occurs in situ, then one should also remember that a general concern for understanding the natural features of work through the use of various kinds of fieldwork, including 'ethnography,' is common in other design oriented disciplines too- in human factors, for example, computer machine interaction, and even, latterly, the industrial design communities. Given this, we will ask what is the character of ethnography typically practiced in CSCW? Is it a kind of ethnography stripped bear of any theoretical auspices, for example, and is thus better labelled as a kind of fieldwork? Or is it a kind of practice weighed down with a whole cargo of theoretical concerns in the manner of say, anthropological ethnography? Or is it in-between, and if so, how and in what ways? And given this, what does it offer?
The Baker's Dozen: the Presence of the Gift in Service Encounters
(BRINDA DALAL, PATRICIA WALL)
This paper explores whether or not Marcel Mauss's concept of the gift is applicable to understanding the diverse roles that ethnographers assume in corporate environments. Kneading together the themes of gift exchange from anthropological literature on the one hand and "Representations" from the participatory design research community on the other; we suggest that the artifacts we create and share with customers actually evoke the presence of the gift in customer interactions. We argue that specific types of representations - a key component in our methodological toolkit - may be likened to the thirteenth loaf in the baker's dozen; given to the customer to demonstrate equitable partnerships, enhance communication and garner trust in a perpetually changing marketplace. Using case studies, we examine how these objects illuminate the complexity of our own sociality in professional settings and furthermore, help to deepen or transform customer service engagements.
Configuring living labs for a 'thick' understanding of innovation
(JO PIERSON & BRAM LIEVENS)
The paper examines the living lab as an approach within communication studies for examining the naturalistic involvement of users in ICT design, based on ethnographic principles. First a more precise definition of the living lab is presented, indicating the epistemological background. Next the different phases of our living lab configuration are elaborated, illustrated by a research project on a handheld electronic reading device (e-paper). Finally we discuss the value of this approach for companies involved in ICT research and design. In the conclusion also the advantages on product development level and social level are indicated.
Using photographic data to build a large-scale global comparative visual ethnography of domestic spaces: can a limited data set capture the complexities of 'sociality'?
This paper describes an innovative attempt to construct a large-scale, global comparative visual ethnography of domestic spaces, and uses the notion of 'sociality' to interrogate the ability of such a broad but relatively thin data set to do justice to ethnography's potential to capture and communicate the salience of the socially co-constructed contexts of people's lives. Whilst noting the risks inherent in using data sets that exclude information about social context and meanings, it argues that working within the confines of these deficiencies can be turned to positive account to drive both theoretical innovation and analytical rigor.
Accelerating Collaboration with Social Tools
(ALEXANDRA MACK & DINA MEHTA)
As more and more corporate ethnographic work is crossing international borders, we are increasingly collaborating with teams that are spread across the globe. As a result, we need tools that enable us to work across boundaries. Since early 2004, the authors have been collaborating on a research project developed by an American company seeking to develop solutions specific to the Indian market. One of us, an Indian sociologist, led a team of ethnographers in India, while the other, an American anthropologist, managed research and analysis for concept development in the US. While all of the US-based team members spent time in the field in India during the project, integrating the teams into the same "brainspace" was a challenge. This paper describes how we used social tools to enable each set of team members to understand the work being done on the other side of the world.
Social Relationships In The Modern Tribe: Product Selection As Symbolic Markers
(DAN M. BRUNER)
A manufacturer of work clothes wanted to learn how workers use and experience its products to enhance marketing and sales. After a multi-sited field study, I learned that more critical than individuals or persona were the social practices that emerged within particular social units. Different work crews established their own distinctive patterns of clothing use which served as symbolic markers of group identity. Workers adduced functional attributes to explain sociality-based choices.
Physical Artifacts for Promoting Bilingual Collaborative Design
Physical artifacts, such as sticky notes and mock-ups, are widely used in Human-Computer Interaction research for supporting the collaborative design of technology. Because these representations use channels of communication other than speaking and listening, they offer the potential to facilitate collaboration in bilingual groups working through an interpreter. This paper identifies challenges of bilingual design meetings based on technology development collaborations between Silicon Valley corporate research organizations and two different Japanese companies. Three of the most successful physical artifacts used in these meetings are described to illustrate ways of supporting bilingual collaboration. After discussion of the specific contributions of these artifacts, general recommendations for bilingual collaborative design meetings are discussed. The paper concludes with the recommendation that careful choreography of the work area is necessary to ensure every participant has access to the physical artifacts necessary for successful collaboration.
The Worst Technology for Girls?
(WENDY MARCH & CONSTANCE FLEURIOT)
The aim of the research was to discover how teen girls use technology in relation to privacy practices in their everyday lives. Asking teenage girls to describe the worst technology they could imagine was a fruitful way of exploring their feelings towards location-awareness, tracking and surveillance in particular and served as inspiration for the design of concepts which embody many of their concerns.
Irrational Choices, Unfathomable Outcomes: Patient Ethnographies in Pharmaceutical Research
With the proliferation of oral therapies (in place of injectables) for many chronic conditions, the locus of medical treatment is shifting from the surveilled context of the clinic to the private space of the home. In the home, compliance and persistency - the extent to which patients take medications over time - have become pressing concerns. Non-compliance adversely affects health outcomes, and costs manufacturers millions. The medical community has difficulty understanding non-compliance, often relegating it to individual irrationality or dysfunction in the doctor-patient relationship. Ethnography opens up the issue by entering the private space of pill-taking to understand the beliefs, relationships, and activities that contribute to patient (non-)compliance.
Ethnography and process change in organizations: methodological challenges in a cross-cultural, bilingual, geographically distributed corporate project
(ELIZABETH F.CHURCHILL & JACK WHALEN)
We detail an ongoing, consultancy partnership, where ethnographic field methods are being used to elucidate the work practices of software engineers in a large organization. We focus on intellectual and logistical challenges that we face as a team - non-collocation; widely varying experience of ethnographic methods, local language and culture; and conflicting responsibilities and lines of accountability. We consider the social spheres in which our team members operate and the sociality of our team as a whole. As ethnographic teams are increasingly considered de rigueur within corporations for cultural translation in the face of globalization, the issues we face are likely to become more commonplace.
Investigating Mobility, Technology, and Space in Homes,
Starting with "Great Rooms"
(SCOTT D. MAINWARING & ALLISON WOODRUFF)
Certain American-style homes include large multifunctional spaces, often with vaulted or otherwise high ceilings, that incorporate living, dining, and kitchen areas. As an American cultural phenomenon, these "great rooms" symbolize and instantiate a particular vision of the good life or ideal home, including for example concepts such as openness and togetherness, or in less favorable interpretations, wastefulness and lack of privacy. As such, we see great rooms as complex and contradictory symptoms of unresolved tensions in the politics of everyday life. We describe our approach of starting with a provocative and problematic topic within a larger domain of interest and examining it from a number of perspectives. We argue that sites that are contentious are particularly interesting candidates for technological innovation, in which technology is not limited to assimilating to well-established and understood processes, but rather can participate in an ongoing process, responding to and challenging concerns.
Fertile Ground: Homegrown Loyalty Makes for Globally Competitive Industry
(KERI BRONDO, MARIETTA BABA, SENGUN YENIYURT and JANELL TOWNSEND)
This paper proposes a theory to explain how rural sociality has influenced workforce behavior and productivity at a Global Manufacturing Systems' automotive assembly plant in mid-Michigan. The paper argues that for over 100 years, rural and farming families in the region have been appropriating GM factories in order to sustain their rural life ways and remain part of their own 'moral' community. Loyalty to the company is conceptualized from the families' perspective as a requirement of sustainable communities, motivated by an intergenerational desire to keep GM in Michigan. Employee loyalty also benefits the company by ensuring high performance and quality. The link between sociality and performance is illustrated through statistical modeling of attendance data and maps produced through ArcGIS.
Let's Have A Conversation: Theory Session Introductory Remarks
(RICK E. ROBINSON)
As an introductory set of remarks for the theory session, this short paper sets up some issues facing both the field of ethnography applied in industry and those who undertake theoretical work in the field. The author proposes some simple dimensions for discussion: how we might consider work in industry a definite and distinct location for theory work; the nature of relationships with key interlocutors that are fundamental to working in industry; and finally, the role, opportunity, and responsibility that theory work might have going forward.
The Coming of Age of Hybrids: Notes on Ethnographic Praxis
It has been nearly 15 years since Donna Haraway wrote in Simians, Cyborgs and Women that, "In so far as we know ourselves in both formal discourse and in daily practice we find ourselves to be cyborgs, hybrids, mosaics, chimeras." While Haraway's referent was not the community of practitioners, scholars and change agents assembled for the EPIC conference, her attention to the arrangement of material goods, human labor and social relations in processes and histories that have consequences for people's lives resonates with the themes addressed in the workshops and with concerns that bring many of us to this conference. In this talk I will explore how ethnographic praxis is constituted by a mixing of such pure categories as, virtual - real, local -global, material - social, spiritual - secular, research - design, mercantile - humanitarian, and academic - applied. I will close with a call to celebrate our hybridity - our lives on the margins and our pragmatism.
Craft, value and the fetishism of method
In order to set the scene for the panel on methods, I will be drawing on C Wright Mills' injunction to avoid the fetishism of method. Mills urges us to think about our methods in terms of a process of craft production. I want to explore what key elements of this craft might be, beyond the usual focus on actual techniques such as interviewing or ethnographically informed data collection. Foregrounding the papers in the session, I will examine ideas of value, temporality, transformation and even transgression.
KRIS R. COHEN- University of Chicago
Kris R. Cohen is a Research Fellow in the INCITE research group at the University of Surrey (UK) and a PhD candidate at
the University of Chicago in the Art History Department.
JONES STOKES- Lodestar
Stokes is Director of Lodestar, a company he founded in 2003 to help businesses identify and adopt to social and cultural changes shaping customers in particular markets. In three years its clients have included; the BBC, Halifax/Bank of Scotland, Procter & Gamble, Nokia, and three mobile network operators.
TIM PLOWMAN- Cheskin
Tim Plowman has extensive experience in applications research, design guideline and specification development, interaction design, human factors testing, and multi-modal interface design. He has co-authored patents and published on the topic of design research. Tim received his undergraduate and doctoral training in sociocultural and medical anthropology from UC Berkeley and UC San Francisco.
RICHARD HARPER- Microsoft
Richard Harper is Senior Researcher at Microsoft Research in Cambridge. He has spent twenty years developing tools and techniques for understanding user behaviour in workplaces, mobile settings and the home. He has over 140 papers, patents, and books.
DAVE RANDALL - Manchester Metropolitan University
Dave Randall is a senior lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University. His main research interests concern the methodological issues surrounding the conduct of ethnographic enquiries under interdisciplinary auspices, and more particularly ethnography in relation to the design of so-called 'collaborative' computer systems. He has is currently finishing a new book, along with the co-authors of this paper, entitled, 'Fieldwork and Design'.
BRINDA DALAL- Palo Alto Research Center, Inc.
Brinda Dalal is a research scientist at PARC Inc. Her current research interests include exploring new applications of ethnographic methods in industry, and the domain of green technology and sustainable design.
PATRICIA WALL- Xerox Corporation
Patricia Wall is a research scientist and manager of the Work Practice & Technology area at Xerox Corporation. Her current research interests include exploring the use of ethnographic methods in service contexts and graphics-based representations of work practices.
JO PIERSON- SMIT-IBBT Free University of Brussels (VUB)
Dr. Jo Pierson is senior researcher for SMIT-IBBT, involved in innovation strategic research on design and use of (new) media technologies. Besides lecturing at the Communication Department of the Free University of Brussels (VUB), he also holds a research position on social science research of ICT.
BRAM LIEVENS- SMIT-IBBT Free University of Brussels (VUB)
Bram Lievens is researcher for SMIT-IBBT at the Free University of Brussels (VUB), working on different policy and user oriented projects regarding new and emerging technologies, services and applications.
SIMON PULMAN-JONES - GfK NOP
Simon Pulman-Jones is European Director of Ethnographic Research for global market research company GfK NOP. Following work in documentary film, and a Social Anthropology PhD at the LSE, Simon joined the London Business School Future Media Programme before moving to the US to join Sapient Corp.'s Experience Modeling discipline.
ALEXANDRA MACK- Pitney Bowes
Alexandra Mack is a Workplace Anthropologist in the Advanced Concepts and Technology Division of Pitney Bowes. Alex works primarily with a group called the Concept Studio, which is focused on developing ideas for new products and services based on a deep understanding of work practice.
DINA MEHTA- Explore Research and Consultancy
Dina Mehta is a qualitative researcher with 15 years experience based in Mumbai, India. A Master's Degree holder in Sociology, she spent the first 10 years of her career with IMRB, India's largest market research agency. She set up her own consultancy firm, Explore Research & Consultancy, in 1998, offering clients a comprehensive qualitative and ethnographic research consultancy on brands, products and services.
DAN M. BRUNER- Doxus
Dan Bruner, a research director at Doxus, specializes in qualitative research, with an emphasis on ethnography and observational research, usability and persona development, as well as traditional qualitative modes such as focus groups and in-depth interviews. Dan has been working in technology since 1984. Dan holds a master of arts in international business from the University of Texas at Dallas, and a bachelor of science in mechanical engineering from the University of Illinois.
AME ELLIOTT - Palo Alto Research Center (PARC)
Ame Elliott is an ethnographer and interaction designer at PARC in the Socio-Technical Interaction Research group. Previously, she worked as an HCI researcher at Ricoh Innovations, where she began her involvement with Japanese companies. Ame earned her Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and an Environmental Design degree from the University of Colorado, Boulder.
WENDY MARCH- Intel Research
Wendy March is a Senior Researcher within Intel Research. As an interaction designer Wendy is particularly interested in translating her ethnographic research findings into new concepts and future scenarios. Since joining Intel her work has included both design and ethnographic research in the US, Europe and Asia.
CONSTANCE FLEURIOT- Featherhouse
Dr. Constance Fleuriot is a freelance consultant in user research and locative media design. Until September 2005 she was a principal investigator on the DTI-funded Mobile Bristol Project, investigating the social impact of emerging pervasive and mobile technologies, their potential use in and effect on everyday life. She is now a consultant and facilitator on location based mixed media projects with a variety of user communities, as well as developing collaborative theoretical work on developing a descriptive language for locative media.
ARI SHAPIRO- Hall & Partners Healthcare
Ari Shapiro is Research Director at Hall & Partners Healthcare, a Manhattan-based brand and communications consultancy serving the pharmaceutical and medical industries. Previously, he worked as a user experience researcher in the healthcare division of Sapient Corporation, a business and technology consulting firm. Ari holds a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology from Princeton University and a BA in social studies and comparative religion from Harvard College.
ELIZABETH F. CHURCHILL- Palo Alto Research Center
Elizabeth Churchill is a research scientist in the Computing Science Laboratory at Palo Alto Research Center. Her research centers on the design of effective sociotechnical communicaton settings - from online spaces to augmented physical environments. She is an active contributor within the Human Computer Interaction (HCI), Computer Supported Cooperative Work (CSCW) and Social Computing communities.
JACK WHALEN- Palo Alto Research Center
Jack Whalen is a Principal Scientist in the Computing Science Laboratory at Palo Alto Research Center. His research spans three areas: systems to support knowledge-sharing in work communities; artificial intelligence applications for workplaces; incarnate practices in service work. He is currently leading a project studying different approaches to system engineering work.
SCOTT D. MAINWARING- People and Practices Research Lab, Intel Research
Scott D. Mainwaring is a senior researcher in the People and Practices Research Lab at Intel Research in Hillsboro, Oregon.
His research interests include privacy and trust issues in ubiquitous computing, personal and social meanings of technology
and their effects on adoption, and methodological innovation. He has conducted research on topics such as home networking,
personal video recorders, broadband adoption in Korea, urban mobility, and technology "discontents". Prior to joining Intel
in 2000, he was a researcher at Interval Research Corporation in Palo Alto, CA for six years. Scott holds an A.B. in
computer science from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology from Stanford University.
ALLISON WOODRUFF- Intel Research Berkeley
Allison Woodruff is a senior researcher at Intel Research Berkeley. Her primary research interests include technology for domestic environments, computer-mediated communication, ubiquitous computing, and information visualization. Prior to joining Intel, Woodruff worked as a researcher at PARC from 1998-2004. Woodruff holds a Ph.D. in computer science from the University of California, Berkeley, an M.S. in computer science and an MA in linguistics from the University of California, Davis, and a B.A. in English from California State University, Chico.
KERI BRONDO- Michigan State University
Keri Brondo is a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Anthropology and Research Fellow in the College of Social Science
at Michigan State University, and the project director for the Lansing Grand River study.
MARIETTA BABA- Michigan State University
Marietta Baba is a Professor of Anthropology and Dean of the College of Social Science at Michigan State University,
with an interest in processes of technological innovation within organizational contexts.
SENGUN YENIYURT- University of Nevada
Sengun Yeniyurt is an Assistant Professor of Marketing at University of Nevada.
JANELL TOWNSEND- Oakland University
Janell Townsend is an Assistant Professor of Marketing and International Business at Oakland University, with research interests largely focused in the context of the automotive industry.
RICK E. ROBINSON- GfK-NOP
Rick E. Robinson is Global Director for GfK NOP's Observational and Ethnographic practice. Rick holds a Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of Chicago. He has been a leader in developing and applying observational research as a basis for new product, service and strategy solutions. He was a co-founder of E-Lab, a research consultancy, which pioneered new research approaches for understanding the interactions between people and products. He is the co-author of The Art of Seeing with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. He is currently working on a book on the principles of ethnographic practice for design and product development.
JEANETTE BLOMBERG- IBM Almaden Research Center
Jeanette Blomberg manages the People and Practices group at the IBM Almaden Research Center. Her research focuses on the interplay between people, technology and organizational practices with particular concern for how the work of organizations is accomplished through emergent, informal work practices. Prior to assuming her current position, Jeanette was Director of Experience Modeling Research at Sapient and a founding member of the Work Practice and Technology group at the Xerox PARC. Jeanette received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from the University of California, Davis.
NINA WAKEFORD- Univ of Surrey
“Consumption Patterns Among the Urban Indian Middle Class”
“When Norms Collide: How Workplace Communities Influence Organizational Performance”
Lamees Sweis & Marlo Jenkins
“Design Anthropology: The Latest Corporate Approach”
Jonathan Grudin & Lilia Efimova
“Corporate Weblogs: Attitudes, Uses, and Effects of an Emerging Technology”
Brooke E Foucault
“Aging in a New Place”
Kathleen Linscott, Elin Pedersen & Jeanine Spence
“A People at Work study of Medical Clinics”
“Helping HSBC make its employees more effective and informed”
Brendon Clark & Niklas Andersson
“Emphasizing the Social: Building Board Games Together”
Crysta J. Metcalf, Frank Bentley & Gunnar Harboe
“Effects of context on music playing”
“PC as an agent of real and symbolic change in India”
Tom Fisher & Janet Shipton
“Capturing everyday interactions with product packaging through ethnography”
Graeme Mott & Susan Todd
“The adoption lifecycle model”