Investigating Mobility, Technology, and Space in Homes, Starting with “Great Rooms”
SCOTT D. MAINWARING and 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...
Cracking Representations of Emerging Markets: It’s Not Just about Affordability
KATHI KITNER, RENEE KURIYAN and SCOTT D. MAINWARING This paper will examine the social factors that mediate technology adoption among the emerging middle class in order to show how messaging, positioning, and targeting communications to potential consumers, if based on flawed representations, such as the First Time Buyer, can lead to missed market opportunities, or worse. We advocate an alternative approach based on ethnographic frameworks that can help to gauge the social viability of products, deconstructing these assumptions and notions to help smooth the path of technology adoption in emerging markets. To represent our findings, we created a “tool,” the “Social Viability Measure (SVM),” to help private industry and others approach new markets by bringing an understanding of social forces into the strategic planning, messaging and positioning of products....
Consumerization and Renewing Peoples and Practices Research
DAWN NAFUS, ROGERIO DE PAULA, KATHI KITNER, RENEE KURIYAN and SCOTT D. MAINWARING This paper documents the beginnings of Intel’s recently launched Consumerization project, and uses these early experiences as a way into exploring new paths to business relevance and impact. These paths weave in and out of the increasingly institutionalized position of corporate ethnography as research that takes place before products are designed. These paths are one response to wider transformations in the business environment, and are not a general prescription, “ethnography should now do X in corporations.” However, this project does embody a significant move away from past modalities of conducting and applying research, and in doing so reveals broader possibilities for ethnography that may prove viable for others in different contexts. We begin by providing some institutional history and exploring the wider industry transformations that compelled us to design a research project in the way that we did. The paper goes on to describe our approach...