Intelligences

The best collection of global expertise in ethnography in business, including papers, PechaKucha, keynotes, tutorials and video.

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Let’s Make EPIC More Accessible

2018 has been a phenomenal year for our community. We offered an array of new Courses and Talks that brought us together to learn and share expertise, and 600 EPIC people attended our outstanding annual conference in Honolulu, where we tackled crucial questions of data and evidence. This was a year of growth for EPIC, and over 170 people in our community volunteered time and hard work to create EPIC programs. We celebrate this generosity and passion that makes EPIC possible. Today we’re asking you to take a step to make EPIC possible for more people. For students around the world, our conference…

Avoiding the “Chinese Hat Syndrome”: Why Your Methods May not Travel Well

by YUEBAI LIU & JUNNI OGBORNE There’s a kind of building found across China that combines a Western-style “body” with a rather incongruous Chinese-style glazed tile roof plonked on top. This style of architecture had its heyday in the frenzy of the Great Leap Forward, when Chairman Mao ordered architects and engineers to design and construct ten gigantic buildings in Beijing in the space of just ten months. In indigenous Chinese architectural designs, tiled rooves are structurally integrated into the rest of the building through posts and beams. In these 1950s designs, the “Chinese hat” (dawuding, lit. “big roof”) is reduced to a decorative afterthought to give some vague Chinese character to the imported design. Architect Liang Sicheng criticized the mismatched structures as “wearing a Western suit with a Chinese hat.” Multinationals’ efforts to conquer the Chinese market often remind us of this “Chinese hat” analogy. Many times over the years living and working in China, we have seen marketers,...

Cross-disciplinary Insights Teams: Integrating Data Scientists and User Researchers at Spotify

by SARA BELT and PETER GILKS, Spotify Sara Belt and Peter Gilks respectively lead the Creator and Free Revenue Product Insights teams at Spotify. In this article, Sara will explore the practice of User Research at Spotify, and Peter will lay out how Data Science and User Research work together to drive product decisions. Part 1. User research at Spotify Sara Belt, Head of Creator Product Insights When I say I work in user research at Spotify, folks' minds tend to travel in two directions: they figure I research either the kinds of music people listen to or the music itself: melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and how they impact people. Because, you know, what else is there to research with the world’s biggest music player? Over the past few years, Spotify has grown to be much more than that, and the research scope has grown with it. My team, for example, is focused on artists and the music industry ecosystem—how Spotify can help artists grow an audience, express their creativity, and thrive. We research fandom and how it...

Researching Mobility: A Culture of Fieldwork

by ADAM WILLIAMS and MOLLY STEVENS, Uber Driver-partners in the queue for ride requests at SeaTac are interviewed by members of Uber’s brand experience and design teams as part of an ethnographic field survey, November 2017. Photo by Adam Williams. Uber is a technology company rooted in the physical and social geographies of mobility systems. Of course, millions of people around the world have discovered that Uber’s product is much more than a mobile app—it is also a world experience. For example: getting picked up at the airport moments after emerging from a terminal in a foreign country driving around a city, picking up people you’re meeting for the first time trying food from a new restaurant that you discovered through Uber Eats Space, place, and landscape are central to the physical experience of sharing a ride from pickup location to destination. For example, consider how a shared ride across town also constitutes a social space. For many people, this is a space for conversations that broaden our connections...

The Power of the Fringe: Why Ecology Research Should Include Auxiliary Actors for Truly Powerful Results

by CAMILLO DE VIVANCO and GAYATRI SHETTY, ReD Associates Through years of research and work for the healthcare industry, we’ve come to experience the power of the auxiliary actors. The industry often overemphasizes the classic dyad of patient and primary health care provider, missing actors on the periphery who have frequent touch points with patients and frequently play a larger role in delivering care to patients than the actual healthcare professionals. Take, for example, Benjamin, a health technician we observed for a full day in Paris. Benjamin spends his days driving from home to home, delivering in-home medical equipment to patients, as well as checking in on those who have notified his company of problems with the equipment they have been given. On average, Benjamin visits anywhere between 5 and 15 patients in a day, depending on the tasks he is assigned. Benjamin, like many technicians we observed in our ethnographic fieldwork, consistently moves beyond his remit – spending significant amounts of time training...