ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Chair
An EPIC2020 Sponsored Panel presented by Google
What does human scale mean through the lens of the environment? Alternatively, what does the scale of the Earth’s environment mean to human activity and life? We may start by thinking of the enormity of the problem to just describe these two perspectives. But, by stepping back and reframing our questions in terms of the tools we use—design, ethnography, AI, art—we gain a powerful and novel perspective.
Panelists discuss their work in terms of the world’s biggest threat, climate change. Approaching this topic from each one’s unique worldview and the tools of their practice, they follow out the scales of local to global and how small and seemingly one-off events can grow to a world scale. How do we design, provoke, educate—and ultimately change the world—by employing disparate data...
ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Distinguished Researcher, IBM Almaden Research Center
MIRIAM LUECK AVERY, Mozilla
ASTRID COUNTEE, Data for Democracy
NATHAN GOOD, Good Research
This EPIC2018 panel addresses questions of fairness and justice in data-centric systems. While the many social problems caused by data-centric systems are well known, what options are available to us to make things better? Chair Elizabeth Churchill draws the panelists and audience into conversation about making change on many levels, in our daily work as well as larger-scale collaborations.
Elizabeth Churchill is a Director of User Experience at Google. She has built research groups and led research in a number of well-known companies, including as Director of Human Computer Interaction at eBay Research Labs, Principal Research Scientist and Research Manager at Yahoo!, and Senior Scientist at PARC and Fuji Xerox’s Research lab. Elizabeth has more than 50 patents granted or pending, 5 co-edited and 2 co-authored books (Foundations for...
by ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Vice President, ACM
This is a cautionary tale featuring a well-structured memo and an effective, carefully designed infographic. Both of these artifacts could be considered excellent examples of their respective crafts—the first of technical communication, and the second of graphical information design. Both are also examples of how ethics can be subsumed to expedience, and how the everyday practices of their production were subject to the exigencies of locally acceptable rhetorics and social order.
I believe the stories of these artifacts are cautionary tales for us and our own work. Through the (admittedly dark) cautionary tales of these artifacts, I invite us to consider the conditions in which we, EPIC attendees and our international community, produce artifacts that convey “evidence”. I invite us to question the milieux and “atmospheres” in which we work, the sources from which we collect data, our practices and processes when producing evidencing rhetorics, and the role of such evidence in...
by ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Director of User Experience, Google
Concern with “big data” and ”data at scale” has pervaded many conversations in the past few years. Conversations orient around what “big data” really means, around the relationship of “small data” to “big data”, and around the relationship between “local” data and “global”, aggregate data. In the EPIC context, conversations veer towards anxiety regarding the relationship of ethnographic practice to quantitative data and whether the future of ethnography as an area of interest is in jeopardy. Will all questions regarding people, “users”, and markets be answered by brute force, number crunching?
The answer is absolutely NO.
It’s important to note that the ethnography community has a long-standing relationship with analysis of, and interpretation through, quantitative data at all scales and granularities. “Big” data and “data at scale” are not new. Stealing a snippet of Samuelle Carlson and Ben Anderson’s paper title from 2007,...
Elizabeth Churchill, Director of User Experience at Google, is an applied social scientist working in human computer interaction, computer mediated communication, mobile/ubiquitous computing and social media. Prior to joining Google, Elizabeth was Director of Human Computer Interaction at eBay Research Labs, and she has held positions in top research organizations, including Principal Research Scientist at Yahoo! Research; Senior Research Scientist at the Palo Alto Research Center (PARC); and Senior Research Scientist at FX Palo Laboratory. Trained in psychology, throughout her career Elizabeth has focused on understanding people’s social and collaborative interactions in their everyday digital and physical contexts. She has studied, designed and collaborated on creating online collaboration tools, applications and services for mobile and personal devices, and media installations in public spaces for distributed collaboration and communication. She has authored over 100 peer-reviewed publications,...
ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and 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....
ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and JEFF UBOIS
Newspapers are in trouble. Steep declines in circulation and advertising revenue have forced outright closures, reductions in force, cessation of print in favor of web only editions and frantic searches for additional sources of revenue and audience. In this paper, we report results from an interview study focused on everyday news consumption practices. Our study indicates there are many design opportunities for local news creation and distribution at interface/interaction, infrastructure and strategy levels....
ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and ELIZABETH S. GOODMAN
A confluence of personal, technical and business factors renders priorities, practices, and desires visible – and invisible – when people use online dating sites to look for partners. Based on a review of websites, interviews with dating site designer/developers, and interviews with would-be daters about their online experiences and their first dates, we offer some insights into the entanglement between daters, site implementers, and business models that is part and parcel of getting ‘matched’ via the Internet. We also examine the role of the website interface and match algorithms in the expression of the “real me” and the search for “the one” – and then how processes of self-presentation and partner imagination play into the planning, expectation-setting and experience of the first date. Finally, we reflect on issues raised for design and for strategic technology development. This study of online-offline encounters is an example of using detailed qualitative analyses...
ELIZABETH CHURCHILL and AME ELLIOTT
This paper discusses two distinguishing features of ethnographic work, program flexibility and data flexibility. These forms of flexibility deliver business benefits at two different timeframes. Within the timeframe of a given project, ethnographic practice is necessarily reflective and reflexive; ethnographic training insists researchers be flexible. This means projects are responsive to emerging results, and can be reframed in situ without significant additional investment. After the project has completed, carefully managed, stored and curated ethnographic materials can answer new questions, perhaps posed years after the project has ended. Thus, ethnographic work can generate business impact by sustaining value over time. Two cases illustrate the value-generating qualities of ethnographic work: one recently conducted investigation of drinking water in India and one conducted ten years ago looking at changes in collaborative practices as a result of the adoption of mobile technologies. Discussion...