ANNA ZAVYALOVA

Contributed Articles

Creating Agency: What Ethnography Can Learn from Storytelling

ANNA ZAVYALOVA PechaKucha Presentation This PK explores the relationship between ethnography and post-modern storytelling techniques that shift the locus of agency towards the audience and away from the protagonist. The presentation builds on insights from a project about the future of storytelling, and explores the ways in which various storytelling formats (theater, film, comics) promote creative agency through immersion and interaction. The PK shows how through a deep engagement with the lives of the people we study, and our ability and willingness to take clients along with us, we as business ethnographers assume a sense of ‘creative’ agency, which allows us and our clients to take greater ownership of the story we tell. Anna Zavyalova is an anthropologist, socio-cultural explorer and a keen writer, passionate about applying the ethnographic method to real business challenges. With over five years’ experience in academic and commercial research, she has carried out global ethnographic studies spanning technology,...

Owning Our Devices: Learning from People Who Adapt Tech for Well-Being

An interview with MARGARET MORRIS by ANNA ZAVYALOVA & GIULIA NICOLINI, Stripe Partners Public debate has rightly focused on the perils and toxicity of new technologies, and questioned the motivations of the companies building them. Meanwhile though, people are creatively adapting technology to their own social and psychological needs. Margie Morris explores this crucial space of personal innovation for social connection and well-being in her new book Left to Our Own Devices: Outsmarting Smart Technology to Reclaim our Relationships, Health, and Focus. Margie is a clinical psychologist, researcher, and inventor of technologies which support well-being. She led research on emotional technology at Intel, conducted user experience at Amazon and now teaches in the department of Human-Centered Design and Engineering at the University of Washington. Based on years of primary and secondary research as well as Margie’s own involvement in creating apps and other technologies, the book offers a fresh take on human-technology interaction,...

To Have and Have Not: Exploring Grammars of Sharing in the Context of Urban Mobility

ANNA ZAVYALOVA Stripe Partners This paper explores cultural differences in the practices of car sharing in the context of urban mobility. Challenging the all too frequent and often uncriticial uses of the term “sharing economy”, we argue for a more granular representation of practices that occur when “sharing” meets “economy”, focusing on the tensions that characterise people's embodied experiences of carpooling. By exploring emergent behaviour conventions, this paper seeks to highlight the ethnographic value of shifting perspectives between different players in car sharing transactions. We aim to offer a fresh, ethnographically rich and critical perspective on practices of mobility sharing in the context of an industry in flux....

In Defense of Personal Bias in Ethnographic Research

by ANNA ZAVYALOVA, Stripe Partners Past midnight, I’m shivering outside a pub in Shoreditch, the rain beginning to drizzle ever so viciously. It has been fifteen minutes since I left my friends and ordered an UberPool home. As I watch yet another cab drive by, I think about the millions of factors that make one choose how to get around a city. I think about comfort, cost and convenience, space, speed and safety. Earlier this year I was involved in a study of pooled mobility in the UK, India and Brazil, where we tried to make sense of car sharing ‘grammar’ across these dramatically different cultural landscapes. The project, which came to an end in March, and the subsequent paper I wrote for EPIC a few months later, should feel like a closed chapter. Yet as I traverse cities, home and abroad, during the day and late at night, I never stop noting, observing, collecting data – often without realising I’m doing it. Even after a night out, I am still an ethnographer, fascinated by how people and vehicles, cultural values...