Dhanabir Sharma

Laughing All The Way To EPIC

Presentation slide: two circular photos against different tones of green background. Left is a white chicken, right is a country road, and the work "vs" is in the middle. So it represents Chicken versus Road.
EVAN HANOVER Conifer Research Humor is no mere “sense;” it is a social and cultural practice that enables each one of us to construct and recognize novel meanings and connections within our lives and worlds. The idea that humor relies on incongruity that defies our expectations has been around for millennia, but the mid-20th century work of Arthur Koestler elevated humor to be creatively on par with other artistic and intellectual feats. In this PechaKucha, I link my personal fascination/obsession with humor to Koestler’s concept of ‘bisociation’ – the connection of two seemingly unrelated or incommensurate frames of reference – to tell the story of how I became the ethnographer I am today. Beginning with my discovery of the work of George Carlin and moving through a life of evolving engagement with humor – academically, at work, and on stage – I have developed the belief that what we laugh at can help us arrive at novel ideas and make our thought (and therefore action) nimble and resilient in the face of...

Resilience: Lessons from a Period of Disruption

Trace Thomas speaking at EPIC2022
TRACI THOMAS Boston Consulting Group What happens when the research lens is turned inward? As a Strategic Designer, I spend most of time planning for research to engage with people so I can better understand their needs and behaviors and turn research insights into actionable solutions. In this PechaKucha, I share a personal reflection of what resilience means to me and the insights I gleaned based on my own experiences during the pandemic. It’s a visual story about a journey of pain and loss, but also strength through discovery, experimentation, and adaptability. George Floyd protest in Nubian Square, Boston. May 2020. Photo by Traci Thomas Traci Thomas is a Principal Strategic Designer at the Boston Consulting Group. She informs CX strategy through the design of new and improved digital products and services using a human-centric approach that’s rooted in problem framing, ethnography, and iterative prototyping. She’s worked with clients across several industries including fintech, healthcare, hospitality, automotive,...

The Myth of the Pipeline Problem: Creating a Diverse and Thriving Team

Photo of Shakima Jackson-Martinez presenting on stage at EPIC2022
SHAKIMA JACKSON-MARTINEZ Senior Director of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at AnswerLab with support from Kristin Zibell, Director of Products and Services at AnswerLab Corporate leaders issued countless statements decrying racism and investing in diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) efforts in 2020. As a result of the pandemic and the ongoing racial reckoning that year, the overlap between societal events and corporate commitments became sharply visible. But the actions on those commitments, less so. Focusing on DEI sparks all sorts of biased statements from colleagues like, “There are no Black/Trans/Women researchers,” “We don’t want quality to suffer,” and “There’s no pipeline, these folks just aren’t out there.” In the face of these false and racist sentiments, researchers, leaders, and managers can create diverse and thriving teams. Shakima Jackson-Martiniz, Senior Director of DEI at AnswerLab, a research and insights firm, has done just that. In this PechaKucha, she will tell the story of how...

Social Resilience: Shifting from an Individual to a Shared Social Model for Building Resilience

A women sitting on what appears to be a metal bunk with no mattress in a prison cell. A handwritten label at the bottom of the image reads "feel unworthly locked up" (sic?)
JENNY RABODZEENKO Allstate KELLY COSTELLO Panorama Innovation Through Designing Your Future workshops at Cook County Jail in Chicago as part of WIND (Women Initiating New Directions) programming, we have had the chance to connect with incarcerated women awaiting trial. From these interactions with women who, despite tremendous life adversity, are extremely resilient, we have realized that the notion of resilience is a double-edged sword. While heroic, the myth of individual resilience, in the context of criminal justice, may simultaneously allow society to abdicate responsibility for those in jail. In this PechaKucha, we propose a reframe, from individual to social resilience, which holds us all accountable. Through understanding the many types of adversity faced by at-risk women throughout their lives, especially mental health and substance abuse challenges, we show historical and current precedents for more humane solutions that enhance individual resilience via social support. The presentation concludes with a call to...

Resisting Resilience: An Anthropologist’s Paradox

Slide from presentation: a photo of wavy patterns in beach sand with footprints.
NADYA POHRAN University of Cambridge Resilience can be a tremendous asset to any individual’s ability to carry on despite difficulties. At the same time, revering resilience without a healthy amount of respect for emotional vulnerability—by which I mean the intentional choice to tap into our emotional beings and allow ourselves to deeply experience the emotions that arise in us doing our fieldwork and analysis phases of ethnographic research—can be a hindering block to doing good anthropological work. Drawing upon three examples from my personal work as an anthropologist—one from academic research in interreligious relations, one from a healthtech start up context, and one from doing ethnographic work in corporate settings—I call out for anthropologists to not neglect our emotional experiences. I point back to the often-referenced “empathy” within anthropological spheres and, looking at empathy as both a cognitive and an emotional phenomenon, I join the conversation of others who are arguing for the intentional...

With the Phone in the Field: Making the Ethnographic Toolbox Resilient to Change

close-up phooto of an eye looking to the right
SIGNE HELBO GREGERS SØRENSEN Alexandra Institute The characteristic smell that makes you think of a summer cabin and the warm feeling when touching a wooden surface. It was such sensory insights that we hoped to obtain during a study with the aim to explore people’s experiences of living in wooden houses. But then the COVID pandemic hit. Instead, we had to find ways of entering people’s homes through digital means and at a distance. One day during the study we received a message from one of the informants via the app that was used to collect snapshots of their homes: “ (..) But I see no reason in showcasing my private home on video and if you can’t proceed without it, I’m done with your silly study…” With the phone in the field, what had suddenly happened? This submission explores these digitally mediated encounters with a post-phenomenological lens, as it can give us insight as to what happens when trying to make ethnography resilient to change. By reflecting on technology’s mediating role, we can harvest...

“Buy Now, Pay Later” as Resilient Credit

In a clothing store, a mannequin wearing a read shirt and yellow cap
RACHEL AALDERS Australian National University Buy now, pay later (BNPL) products like Afterpay and Klarna promise to disrupt and democratise traditional finance by providing a fairer and more empowering financial product. Yet critics argue these products encourage overconsumption that people can ill-afford, with late fees that can quickly add up. But what if we viewed these products not as emerging and disrupting, or as predatory and targeted, but instead saw them as part of a resilient credit industry – one that has learnt, adapted and evolved with changes in norms, regulations and technology? Understanding these products as part of an ongoing, resilient credit industry helps us move beyond criticism and hype, so we can design a financial future for everyone. Keywords: fintech, design, debt, consumption Citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings p 98, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic Klarna BNPL app. Credit: Klarna Rachel Aalders is a PhD candidate in sociology at the Australian National University, where she...

Beneath the Hype: Self-Ethnography to Explore the Human Possibilities within NFT Technology

Slide from Jake Silva's presentation. Digital art piece showing a giant orange colored robotic hand coming down space, and with an index finger, pushing a button on earth that says "NTF"
JAKE SILVA Meta This presentation narrates my journey as a skeptical researcher into the emerging world of NFTs. After unexpectedly moving into this much-hyped space, I use the resilience that curiosity fosters to overcome my skepticism of it and explore the human possibilities within. Through continuous questioning and learning how to code my own NFT from scratch, I realize their promise as a new medium for unbounded human expression. I then frame this self-discovery as a revelation and triangulate it with examples of NFT artistry captured during fieldwork. Finally, and counterintuitively, I question the veracity of my own revelation and argue that continuous questioning, even of our own work, strengthens our resilience as researchers, so we can better learn, adapt and evolve to confront the unexpected and address the profound questions of our ever-changing world. Citation: 2022 EPIC Proceedings p 137, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Becoming Digitally Resilient: Understanding the Gap between Online Government Services and Low Ability Users

Presentation slide: Photograph of a person at a desk with a lap top and computer mouse and a smartphone. They are writing in a small spiralbound notebook.
YONI LEFEVRE STBY bv DOROTA GAZY STBY bv In the Netherlands, approximately 2.5M people struggle to use technology in their daily life and are unable to use online governmental services independently. People with low digital literacy are increasingly feeling left behind by the digitalisation of society. Even though this group is very diverse, what they have in common is getting stuck at some point when they are in a digital environment, e.g. when filling in digital forms. The Dutch government wants to provide more effective and appropriate help by designing more accessible online services and offering different types of support. To support this, STBY was commissioned to do qualitative research to better understand the experiences of people with limited digital skills. The ethnographic methods used in the project enabled the researchers to get a holistic understanding of participants’ experiences of going through this emotional and difficult journey. This personal approach enabled participants to share the ‘obstacles’...

Research and Design in Controversial Spaces

Presentation slide: photo of someone sketching mobile wire frames on a desk with colorful sticky notes and pens scattered around.
STEFANI BACHETTI Motorola Solutions Research within public safety and law enforcement in America highlights important issues and considerations for designers and researchers. Within this industry exists controversial points of views and high stakes consequences. How do we as researchers balance empathy in spaces where points of views don’t just differ, but actively clash? Who should we consider to be our true users within a product life cycle, and how do we ensure we are designing for the future rather than the present state of the world? This PechaKucha surfaces some of the strategies employed by the research and design teams at Motorola Solutions in a holistic effort to navigate these challenges. Photo credit: Motorola Solutions Stefani Bachetti is a designer and researcher. She oversees the foundational and generative research practice at Motorola Solutions, which infuses human centered insights into the development of products that support people through their most critical moments. She pursues research with unquestionable...

Theory Instruments as Tangible Ways of Knowing

Presentation slide: Title is "Actor-Network Rings". Hows a wooden ball inside a wooden ring with clothespins attached to the ring. Text" Actor Network Theory: Highlights the complex networked relations of people and things that make up our socio-material worlds. This instrument brings attention to what humans and non-human accomplish together." Citation" Latour, B. 1982. Where are the missing masses? The sociology of a few mundane artifacts, in" Shaping Technology/Building Socity (eds) W.E. Bijker and U. Law. Cambridge: MIT Press.
JESSICA SORENSON Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark METTE GISLEV KJÆRSGAARD Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark JACOB BUUR Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark MARY KARYDA Department of Sociology and Environmental Economics, University of Southern Denmark AYŞE ÖZGE AĞÇA Department of Design and Communication, University of Southern Denmark While ethnographers and the data they produce already play a role in affecting industry practices, there is potential to integrate anthropological ways of seeing and knowing into a shared transdisciplinary design praxis. In a series of design research experiments, we have taken a pragmatic and playful approach to physicalizing theory. The result is a set of ‘Theory Instruments’ that transform theory into tangible interaction. Theory Instruments scaffold knowledge production by encouraging new ways of seeing organizations, products, users, and the relations between them....

Rehearsing Imagined Futures: Creative Performance as a Resilient Process among Refugees

Presentation slide: Photo of people dancing on stange.
NICOLE ALEONG University of Amsterdam Cultivating resilience while navigating uncertainty is crucial for refugees. In the Netherlands, after receiving asylum and the right to work, refugees are often urged to adapt or evolve in hopes of successfully integrating into the Dutch economy. How do forced migrants who pursue work in creative enterprises help us rethink the relationship between forging new lives and uncertain futures? In this paper, resiliency of refugees is presented as a process of creative performance and experimentation. Efforts taken by refugees to explore, or ‘self-potentialize’, new future creative pathways suggest that resilience is overly simplified when defined as a pursuit of resistance to integrate and conform into established creative industries. The stories of two refugees living in Amsterdam showcase how resiliency is future-oriented, processual (Pink & Seale 2017), and connected to the preservation of one’s ‘capacity to aspire’ (Appadurai 2013). ‘Future-making’ is embedded into their...

How a Government Organisation Evolved to Embrace Ethnographic Methods for Service (and Team) Resilience: The Case of the Canadian Digital Service

Presentation slide: photograph of a diverse group of people waiting outside a building with a "Service Canada sign", most are wearing masks.
MITHULA NAIK Canadian Digital Service, Treasury Board Secretariat, Government of Canada COLIN MACARTHUR Universita’ Bocconi Government websites and online services are often built with limited input from the people they serve. This approach limits their ability to respond to ever changing needs and contexts. This case study describes a government digital team built from the ground up to embrace ethnographic methods to make government services more resilient. The case study begins by tracing the organisation’s origins and relationship to other research-driven parts of its government. Then it shows how the organisation’s structure evolved as more projects included ethnography. It describes various approaches to locating skilled researchers within bureaucratic confines, as well as what responsibilities researchers took on as the organisation grew. It then summarises researchers’ experiences with matrixed, functional and hybrid organisation schemes. The case study concludes explaining how embracing ethnographic approaches...

Designing and Envisioning a More Resilient Social System: How to Start from What’s Good to Create Something Better in Public Services

Presentation slide: diagram called "Service Concepts: Forecast & ideate". It looks like a colorful flow chart but it is too small to read.
SOFIA CARVALHO With Company Segurança Social (Portugal’s Social Security System) offers multiple service channels to the people. However, they were not perceived as a whole because the assistance was not standard, depending on the channel or person answering – leading to cumulative problems that could take months to resolve. We faced the complex nature of a big governmental organization. Our research made us more aware of people’s general reluctance towards public institutions as they tend to expect poor quality service. We used the information from field research to create four prototypes that would bring tangible results to citizens and impact the institution’s culture in the long term. Segurança Social has always been about resilience: the organization itself and the people it serves. Despite its flaws and fragilities, it’s the social system that allows many to thrive. That’s why we envisioned the system’s sustainability, rooted in the workers’ resilience and processes. Keywords: Public Services, Digital...

Dismantling Stereotypes: Taking an Inside-Out Perspective to Building Better Representation in Advertising for Unilever

STEPHANIE BARRETT Quantum Consumer Solutions SIDDHARTH KANORIA Quantum Consumer Solutions Equality, inclusion, and representation are increasingly acknowledged as core tenets of prosperous countries, cities, and organizations. We know that equality is essential, and we also know equality must be enacted on all fronts. Brands and other social organizations are increasingly recognizing their role as social stakeholders, committed to building a society in which both people and their businesses can thrive in the long-term. Quantum Consumer Solutions and Unilever have partnered on this program of four projects to understand and reduce stereotypes and improve representation. We used a mixed-methods approach, including semiotics, qualitative research, expert interviews, springboards, and internal organizational change to improve inclusivity in communications, pack, and products. Readers can expect to learn why we recommend an ‘inside-out’ approach that combines organizational change with external initiatives, why we need to approach...