Dhanabir Sharma

Leveraging Speculative Design to Re-Imagine Product Roadmaps

SANYA ATTARI Facebook Inc. CHARLEY SCULL Facebook Inc. MAHBOOBEH HARANDI Facebook Inc. Businesses often have strategic visions for the future of a product space; however, identifying and building toward preferable futures is a daunting task, especially when designing for complex systems, e.g., Digital advertising platforms that include multiple complex interfaces and internal organizational structures. Moreover, because businesses need to iterate on products quickly, often in a reactive manner, many businesses, and consequently researchers, struggle to go beyond short-term needs to tackle long-term solutions; that is, they mostly react to immediate needs and changes rather than taking a proactive strategic approach towards building a favorable future. Speculative design as a methodology to support proactive strategic thinking helps set a pathway to explore a variety of future states with participants, in our case business owners. It does so by designing immersive and impactful experiments for participants that draws insight...

The Ballast in Anthropology’s Ship: How a Universal Psychological Structure Can Provide Stability and Flexibility in Anthropological Field Work

BEN DOEPKE IX After a year of new social and cultural constraints, ethnographic approaches have had to quickly evolve. This is the story of how one research method, which enlists the help of close personal contacts around a participating respondent to gather interviews, artifacts, and locations, spotlighted the need for deploying a universal psychological structure (UPS). Even from emic perspectives, the influence of personal bias is uncontested, but how do we account for it? A UPS helps, but how can a structure allow lived experience to flow through it while not altering the experience itself? We can anticipate that parameters around our discipline will continue to shift, challenging some of its most revered principles. How will the ethnographer adapt? In this presentation, we’ll look at the aspects of the human experience that we expect to change the least, and the structure we now have reason to believe will help the most. We’ll offer clear evidence for the inclusive functionality of the UPS, and directional solutions...

Investigating a Gestational Care Facility: An Ethnographic Exploration of Bio-technological Possibilities through a Retro-speculative Lens

OSHIN SIAO BHATT Design Academy Eindhoven PechaKucha Presentation: This story outlines the use of a fictional ethnography to delve into the theme of human-technology interface, with assisted reproduction as its focus. Drawing from my ethnographic experiences around reproductive technologies and clinical spaces at large, the narrative imagines a world where technologies that assist in processes of conception and birthing have become increasingly inventive as well as readily available. The story, drawing on both existing as well as retrospeculative techniques, studies, and theoretical concepts, explores the notion of a child-to-be as symbolic of the idea of birthing futures. The speculative ethnography of a clinical facility centered around assisted reproduction, in an alternative present, dives into the ‘promissory’ role played by reproductive technologies and substances, while questioning normative notions of ‘desired futures’. With its focus on technological innovations and their relationship to ever-evolving socio-cultural...

Holidays and the Anticipation of Ritual

ROB MURRAY IBM PechaKucha Presentation: COVID-19 disrupted so much. It also disrupted rituals, holidays and events on an incredible scale. Many of us lost track of time without these expected markers. But 2021 is all about a new perspective. I found myself anticipating and wanting to engage with rituals as never before. January 2021 was the beginning of a journey to reestablish ritual and patterns of time. I chose to note and celebrate and anticipate simple holidays. This is new territory for me as I did not celebrate holidays to any degree pre-2021. They were noted but I did not really participate. That has changed. The curious researcher in me is on a journey to explore and embrace holidays and ritual. I now anticipate holidays instead of being a passive passenger in time. Calendars adorn my walls and I plan holidays like people plan vacations. And I’m shopping… I think this effort is underpinned by observation. I’m really taking a step back to see these rituals with new eyes. I’m even excited to buy holiday themed...

Our Advocacy for Their Change

AMANDA ROSENBERG Workday PechaKucha Presentation: Our practice is due for an update. As researchers, we practice advocacy on behalf of people impacted by product development decisions. In a time when many of us are striving for more inclusivity, interrogating our approach to advocacy reveals how we can begin to break down the ways we enable – and could enable – change on behalf of whom we’re researching. Sparked by the events of 2020, this talk is a reflection on historical and current advocacy practices outside of research. The talk explores why an update to the research practice matters and how we can go about it. Amanda Rosenberg is a UX Researcher at Workday, a mom to the cutest rescue dog, and an avid practitioner of yoga. With a dual MDes and MBA from Institute of Design, IIT, she has brought her curiosity to an array of sectors from healthcare to government services to IOT technology. Citation: 2021 EPIC Proceedings p 330, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic...

Intuition: Thinking through Loopholes

LAURA REISS PechaKucha Presentation Intuition, contrary to common sense, is not a natural gift. Intuition is born out of experience and it can be a valuable tool for researchers. But what has intuition to do with anticipation? To anticipate we usually rely on understanding current behavioral patterns and extrapolating them. Intuition is great at recognizing patterns and by trusting it more we can become even better researchers. As with any other skill in order to follow our intuition, we need to practice, to be exposed to a lot of fieldwork, to listen to a lot of people, so that we can not only notice what stands out of the common but give the right value to it. When we learn to use our intuition as a research tool, anticipating becomes natural. I will bring examples from a research project that aimed to explore the relationship of young women in Brazil with pregnancy and the most valuable insight in this project came from a girl who did not get pregnant. I will also draw from the world of chess—a game where anticipation...

Who Deserves to Be Observed?: Wrestling with the Avant-Garde

LETIZIA NARDI InProcess LOLA BILLAUD InProcess PechaKucha Presentation—What happens when the “mildly militaristic jargon of marketing” (2004, Sunderland, Taylor, Denny) seeps into the dialectic process of structuring applied research and blurs the meaning of its stakes? This provokingly titled PechaKucha stems from our experience of recruitment conundrums, ones in which notions of “avant-garde” were used in framing, shaping, or reorienting our approach towards the people we were supposed to observe, analyze and report on. We resurface from these case studies and attempt to scratch the glossy coat that blankets these notions as we approach the range of theories that try to define who’s “deserving” of observation. We point at their implications, revealing the power dynamics that they inevitably create, within and outside the field. Inspired by Escobar’s call for non-modern solutions to the stakes of the modern world (2017, Escobar) we reflect on how to make our epistemological choices count in the future...

Anticipating Shared Futures: Emotion, Connection & Relationships

SARAH HEFFERNAN NCAD / Deloitte Digital PechaKucha Presentation—Unprecedented. Unprecedented. Unprecedented. How often did we hear that word at the onslaught of the Covid-19 pandemic? But was it really unprecedented? We’ve been warned for years that a pandemic was imminent. We know the world has been devastated by them in the past. So why did we declare Covid-19 unprecedented? And why wasn’t there a shared anticipation of it? Reflecting on an idea that was first sparked while working as a bungy jump operator, this PechaKucha explores how facts, figures and predictions are not enough when it comes to helping people anticipate and embrace the unthinkable. This discovery is layered with the grief I experience for a way of life I’ve never lived and the feeling of hope that comes from a futures project that is not about creating something new. Keywords: Futures, Food, Storytelling, Emotion, Connection, Relationships Sarah Heffernan is an award-winning designer and researcher based in Ireland. A curious and thoughtful...

Microbes That Matter

CARRIE YURY Fjord PechaKucha Presentation—While COVID-19 has made the world hyper vigilant about sanitization, I take a bottoms-up perspective on the threats of a microbe-starved world. Telling the story of Clostridium Difficile, I walk us through how—just as in ethnography—context is everything for microbes. Using different examples from the biosphere, I examine how microbial metaphors matter, and I make the case that understanding microbes in the context of larger environments and ecosystems can help move us toward life centered design. This Pecha Kucha uses microbes as a contextual metaphor to argue that it is our responsibility to change our perspective; to decenter the human, and start designing for the health of the entire ecosystem, not just one of the players. The Pecha Kucha includes a set of experience principles for life-centered design. Carrie Yury is a Group Design Director at Accenture Interactive. She is Fjord’s National Design Research lead, responsible for leading the overall quality of design research...

On Being Well in a Time of Hell

MIRA SHAH Spotify CHLOE EVANS Spotify CAMIE STEINHOFF Spotify PechaKucha Presentation—For the past year, people around the world have adjusted quickly to unforeseen constraints presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. Upheaval during the pandemic has resulted in a deep sense of grief leaving people in an unpredictable cycle of losing control and attempting to regain it. But, guess what? Researchers also have been experiencing the highs and lows of the pandemic and haven’t been immune to the fulcrum of loss and unexpected buoyancy. In sensing the importance of the moment, a group of researchers came together to learn how people around the world were adjusting and coping, and to anticipate how adaptations in contexts, habits, and tools may lead to enduring changes in everyday life. On Being Well in a Time of Hell is a bricolage from Brazil, Indonesia, and the United States told through diary entries, photos, and drawings that bounce from despair to moments of unexpected connection, creativity, and sometimes, believe it or...

Reimagining Livelihoods: An Ethnographic Inquiry into Anticipation, Agency, and Reflexivity as India’s Impact Ecosystem Responds to Post-Pandemic Rebuilding

GITIKA SAKSENA LagomWorks ABHISHEK MOHANTY LagomWorks The COVID19 induced lockdown in India and consequent migration of workers severely affected the economy. When the migrants returned to urban areas, newer challenges surfaced around the scale and nature of jobs on offer, as well as the skills and aspirations of workers. In this paper, we follow a social impact project focused on livelihoods and post pandemic rebuilding, to explore the trails of ethnography and how its engagement along multiple networks shapes its possibilities as a research method that helps foreground emic perspectives. In doing so, we analyse agencies and social relations from the field, and their role in shaping project imaginaries. Anchored in original, long-term participatory ethnographic research, our paper thinks alongside Appadurai (2013) to surmise that anticipation is imbricated in the coming together of a grounds-up ‘ethics of possibility’ and a top-down ‘ethics of probability’. Importantly, we turn to Actor-Network Theory as a framework...

“Do Not Fear Mistakes—there Are None”: Ethnography as Improvisation

KATHERINE METZO Lowe's Home Improvement, Elemental Research PechaKucha Presentation: I use the iconic album, Kind of Blue, to re-frame a conversation around ethnography and innovation. Moving fast and breaking stuff is not how ethnography brings value to the business. Rather, we use our craft to move nimbly through the complex terrain of “users” in much the same way as jazz musicians improvise. We are grounded in our craft through practice, but technical mastery is not enough. Bounded by structures and constraints, we move nimbly because knowing the rules allows us to creatively push against boundaries. And ethnography never exists in a vacuum, even if we’re the only anthropologist in the room. Instead, we riff off those who came before us, in community with those who innovate alongside us. The core value of ethnography is to improvise—to use our mastery of our craft to build on what came before, to make sense of it, and anticipate what comes next. Katherine Metzo is an ethnographer and methods geek who has worked...

Anticipating the Unanticipated: Ethnography and Crisis Response in the Public Sector

CHRISTINA CHEADLE Stripe Partners HANNAH PATTINSON Surrey County Council This case study emphasizes the importance of ethnographic research in the public sector, specifically regarding emergency preparedness and crisis-response. In the summer of 2020, Surrey County Council in England commissioned a mixed-method Community Impact Assessment to better assist and serve their residents during the Covid-19 pandemic. Stripe Partners conducted the place-based ethnographic work, helping discover insights that led directly to strategy change. The ethnographic and quantitative research went hand-in-hand and led to rich and meaningful insights that were able to confidently convince decision makers to create change. Our ethnographic work validated many of the quantitative findings, while simultaneously providing the depth that allowed them to accurately and most usefully allocate resources for change. We researched how local communities had been affected by Covid, conducting on-the-ground interviews in seven different towns in the region....

Change the Category, Change the World: How Research and Great Storytelling Drove a Headline-Making World First for Supermarkets

JENNIE LENG Independent PechaKucha Presentation—The butterfly effect – a small change that has big ripples. This is what Jennie Leng created when she persuaded NZ’s largest supermarket to change its language from “sanitary products”. Phrases like “sanitary products” and “feminine hygiene” are ubiquitous around the world, but these euphemisms have connotations of dirtiness, and perpetuate the idea that menstruation is embarrassing and shameful. Jennie used context, anecdotes and quantitative research to build a case for the supermarket to change their language – and they went for it! Countdown Supermarkets now uses the phrase “period care” in all of its digital channels and have rolled the label out in store. Because if you can have skin care and hair care, why not period care? In this PechaKucha, Jennie will touch on the types of evidence and the framing she used to influence the business, and the world-first, headline-making outcomes of this change. Jennie Leng is a New Zealander, mother-of-3 and...

Reconfiguring Home: Seeing Remote Work and School through Mothers and Their Children

CHLOE CHANG VINAY KUMAR MYSORE PechaKucha Presentation—What happens when we include children as equal participants? In a project to identify design opportunities to support working mothers during a time when schools have closed across the U.S. in response to COVID-19, we crafted the research to create space for children to voice their needs. What we heard offers opportunities for all parties involved—the designers, the researchers, and the moms who participated. Chloe Chang is a design strategist and researcher who advocates for social justice and equity as the best outcome of any design process. With a background in communication and human-centered design, they work to translate complex narratives and system needs into strategies that are inclusive and sustainable for communities, teams, organizations, and cities. Vinay Kumar Mysore is a parent, design researcher, and hazelnut farmer. Their research interests include community and equity centered design, permaculture, civic engagement, and anti-patriarchy practices. Citation:...