Intelligences

<Place Label Here> Our Use of Labels at Work

DANIELA CUARON Empathy NIK JARVIE-WALDROM Empathy PechaKucha Presentation—A label can be accurate and inadequate at the same time. A fish is a fish, but it's also a sea-dwelling, scale-covered, egg-laying, underwater-breathing creature. Many of us believe in the power of words to change the way we think about something. But are we always aware of how the labels we use influence our perspective? We're on a mission to better understand how, when, and why people use labels at work. We come across labels in project briefs, some emerge during fieldwork, and then there are labels we use to define what we do. We use them to communicate and refocus, but they also restrict our thinking. Through participation, observation and conversation, we've reflected on how labels can help us and hold us back. Daniela Cuaron is Empathy's research and strategy lead. She applies anthropological research with purpose to create meaningful strategies. Dani's work sees her striving to understand and address people's unmet needs. dani@empathydesign.com Nik...

The Ethnographer’s Spyglass: Insights and Distortions from Remote Usability Testing

CHRISTOPHER A. GOLIAS American Eagle Outfitters This paper examines the cultural counter-flow between ethnography and remote usability testing, specifically what such tools might offer ethnographic practice. I explore how remote usability testing can both extend and delimit ethnographers’ sight lines. Because remote testing has a narrow aperture, long sight line, poor context and quick turnaround, I invoke the metaphor of a spyglass in the hands of the ethnographer to understand this increasingly available digital research method. Remote usability testing can quickly access insights and novel footings, while simultaneously creating myopic, distorted or biased understandings. Theoretically, the history of usability studies is compared to that of archaeology as it transitioned from a cultural product focus to a context focus. Practically, several workflows are presented that use the strengths of ethnography and remote usability testing to enhance one another. Finally, ethnography is discussed as a craft-like competence, rather...

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....

Doing Good is Hard: Ethics, Activism, and Social Impact Design as Seen from the Grassroots Perspective

JEFFREY GREGER San Jose State University This paper shares the experiences of two teams of design professionals working on parallel grassroots social impact design projects to address poverty and financial precarity in Silicon Valley and London. This paper explores challenges facing these teams as they channel a sense of moral outrage into the research and development of alternitives to high-risk financial services like payday loans. It charts the open, inclusive design process of these teams as they engage community partners and recognize the financial expertise of people getting by on tight incomes. The paper concludes with a discussion of how working slowly and openly through transdisciplinary communities of practice—like the two groups described here, or EPIC itself—can help keep alive conversations around power and activism in the practice of design and ethnographic research. These conversations are essential if social impact design is to reach its transformative potential while avoiding many of the pitfalls that have...

Towards Multi-Dimensional Ethnography

JULIA KATHERINE HAINES Google, Inc. In this paper, I argue for the value of multi-dimensional ethnography. I explore the potential for ethnography to venture beyond sites, into different dimensions. As an example of work moving in this direction, I present a new approach, dubbed TRACES, which emphasizes the assemblages that constitute our lives, interweaving digital, embodied, and internal experiences. Various data streams and sources provide different vantage points for analysis and synthesis. I illustrate how we have used these to gain greater insight into the human lives we study, with different data sources providing different perspectives on a world, then delve into our use of tools, data sources, and methods from other traditions and other fields, which, combined, give us not only a more holistic picture, but a truer one, which refutes the false dichotomy of the digital and the real. I argue that we must continue to adapt and extend ethnography today into such spaces, and that reformulating the sites of ethnography as dimensions...

Creating a Creators’ Market: How Ethnography Gave Intel a New Perspective On Digital Content Creators

KEN ANDERSON Intel Corporation SUSAN FAULKNER Intel Corporation LISA KLEINMAN LogMeIn, Inc. JAMIE SHERMAN Intel Corporation This case demonstrates how ongoing ethnographic research from within a corporation led to the re-segmentation of a market. The first part of the case focuses on how a team of social science researchers at a major technology company, Intel, drew on past research studies to develop a point-of-view on the increasing importance of content creation across a range of populations that challenged the findings of a quantitative market sizing study. Drawing on earlier qualitative work, the team was able to successfully argue for the value of ethnographic research to augment these findings and to show how research participants’ orientations toward technology constituted a more significant, and more actionable way of segmenting this new market than professional status, the differentiator used in the quantitative study. The second half of the case highlights the process of driving business change from within...

“Thinking Outside the Camp”: Education Solutions for Syrian Refugees in Jordan

SARAH LEBARON VON BAEYER ReD Associates Case Study—This paper presents a case study of a project on education solutions for Syrian refugees in Jordan conducted between 2015-2017. First, it describes how ReD's methodological approach provided a unique perspective to studies on refugees. By immersing a team in the day-to-day lives and settings that most Syrian refugees experience in Jordan—i.e., outside of camps and in people's actual homes—ReD led its client to “think outside the camp,” something that relief agencies and companies often fail to do due to the refugee camp model of humanitarian assistance that, ever since WWII, has dominated the approach to refugees. Second, as a result of its unique methodological approach, ReD uncovered important findings about social networks and technology use and access in Syrian refugees’ homes and communities that ultimately shaped the client's perspective on solution development. For example, ReD's team of ethnographers found that nearly all out-of-camp Syrian households had...

The Lifecycle of a Washing Machine: Transforming the Customer Experience for a Home Appliance Manufacturer

BETH KELLEY Doblin, Deloitte Consulting LLP JENNIFER BUCHANAN Doblin, Deloitte Consulting LLP Case Study—This case study explores a customer experience transformation strategy and development research project run by Deloitte for a multinational U.S.-based home appliance manufacturing company. It explores the shift in strategy and approach for the company based on the team's digital ethnographic research, as well as applying the ethnographic method to a non-traditional data source (digital and social media). Part one lays out the background on the client and the team and challenge proposed by the client. Part two lays out the details of the team's methodology and process of evaluating social data using ethnographic and other qualitative and quantitative methods. Part three reflects on the findings of the research and how these differed substantially from the client's assumptions. Part four evaluates the contribution the digital-based research made in providing a new perspective on the enterprise's customer experience strategy...

The Inhuman Condition: How Research Unlocked New Perspectives on Psoriasis and Began to Change how it’s Understood and Treated

SARAH KELLEHER Truth Consulting Case Study—This case study highlights the value of exploring the reality of having and treating psoriasis. Its aim is uncovering why it is that, despite treatments being available that offer transformative results, people with psoriasis can continue to live in isolation and with feelings of shame. If clear skin alone isn't enough, what is it that can help create a sense of well-being? Even undertaking a piece of work like this represented a significant step forward for the pharmaceutical industry where, historically, investing in this kind of deep patient insight work hasn't been common and where getting buy-in to the outputs is far from certain. How can sight lines be created and developed, particularly from physicians to patients? Explored in this case study are not only the ethnographic and other methodologies used, but also: some of the challenges in bringing together this encompassing piece of work; the strategies and efforts made to ensure that core audiences engaged with the research;...

Imagining a Gym for the Spirit, Mind, and Body for the 21st Century

ALEJANDRO JINICH Gemic Case Study—This case explores a research and consulting engagement whose goal was to build an investment case for a new type of 21st century gym for the spirit, mind, and body. The client, a group of well-funded U.S. entrepreneurs, wanted to design and launch a venture that would be positioned to serve the emerging spiritual needs of the proximal future (2-15 years). While the founders were themselves involved in meditation, belief-dependent realism, and a loose collection of westernized oriental and mystic practices and beliefs, they had not yet defined the venture's specific offering. They suspected that (a) the dominant sociocultural climate of rationalism (e.g. rationalized life choices/paths derived from rationalized worldviews, disengaged relationship with the body and emotion, cynically-motivated wealth creation, etc.) and the lack of embodied and experience-based decision-making and living practices were at the core of a generalized social malaise, and that (b) decoding it and designing a venture...

Changing the Perspective of Government

EMMA SAUNDERS Empathy MAILYNN STORMON-TRINH Empathy STEPHANI BUCKLAND Previously Empathy Case Study—This case study highlights the value of ethnography in changing a client's perspective. New Zealand's productivity has been deceasing, and the government wants to reverse that trend. Empathy's government client believed that macro-level forces were having a major impact on the productivity of small businesses, and wanted to suggest ways for small businesses to directly combat those forces. Empathy conducted ethnographic research, and the results required the client to change their perspective. While the government client saw increased productivity as a means to increase the standard of living, ethnographic research revealed some small businesses see increased productivity as a threat to their values and standard of living. If the government wanted to increase productivity, they were going to have to change tact completely and start talking to and supporting small businesses in a way that took their fears, motivations, beliefs...

It’s Not Childs’ Play: Changing Corporate Narratives Through Ethnography

ANNE MCCLARD Intel Corporation THÉRÈSE DUGAN Facebook (formerly Intel Corporation) Case Study—After discovering that there were over 25 projects going on in various business units in the company that involved children as end users, and that most people had a limited understanding of children's play, the researchers proposed a multi-cultural ethnographic project called ChildsPlay. This case study illustrates the many ways that a well-planned ethnographic study can influence the trajectory of a company's culture, highlighting institutional challenges, describing the ethnographic methods and theoretical underpinnings that guided the research and its analysis, and touching upon the importance of play as an anthropological focal point. The case study closes with a discussion of a notable shift in the narrative around Intel's child-focused product efforts, and the tangible outcomes of the research with respect to product development....

When ‘The Emperor Has No Clothes’: Performance, Complicity and Constraints on Communication in Corporate Attempts at Innovation

JOSH KAPLAN When ethnographic or market research is employed to help de-risk potential products and services, the focus is typically on understanding markets, cultures and contexts external to the organization that would launch them. This paper shifts the focus to the sorts of organizational practices, beliefs, and dynamics inside large corporations, which can create the conditions in which new products are brought to market despite evidence of their risk of failure....

Autonomous Individuals in Autonomous Vehicles: The Multiple Autonomies of Self-Driving Cars

ERIK STAYTON Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley & Massachusetts Institute of Technology MELISSA CEFKIN Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley JINGYI ZHANG Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley We take the polysemy at the heart of autonomy as our focus, and explore how changing notions of autonomy are experienced and expressed by users of self-driving cars. Drawing from work-practice studies and sociomaterial approaches to understanding technologies, we discuss how driving as a task is destabilized and reconfigured by the introduction of increasingly automated systems for vehicle control. We report on the findings of a hybrid ethnographic experiment performed at Nissan Research Center – Silicon Valley, in which we video recorded interactions of 14 participants inside a simulated autonomous vehicle, and conducted semi-structured post-interviews. We look at the responses of our participants in light of three different themes of autonomy, which emerged through the analysis of the...