San Jose State University
Institute for the Future
San Jose State University
This tutorial introduces Ethnofutures to ethnographers who want to integrate forecasting methods and tools into their current professional practices. The goal is to translate ethnographic material into imaginative, but grounded, scenarios of their future users, services, and products. Practitioners, such as designers and business strategists, must imagine futures based on existing signals of change. Those signals can come from the activities of individuals, the organizations in which they work, as well as the larger social events around them. The forces fomenting change can be highly localized, such as a specific municipal policy on gig workers or also be global in scope, pointing to the role of gig work as a facet of contemporary transnational capitalism. Moreover, the future itself is scalable: Organizations toggle between data-rich forecasts that extend less than a year, to more speculative...
Jump the Fence
PechaKucha Presentation—This PechaKucha gives a personal perspective on the ethical dilemmas around the impact of an individual's actions, and the meaning of an ethnographer's projects in the context of the scale where these play out.
The story begins with the spectacle of the 2020 Australian bushfires and reflects on their enormous scale. Within this context what is the meaning of individual actions to limit global warming?
The story shifts to the work context and explores the dichotomy of human impacts vs. the marketing metrics that typically measure success. Using an example of a research project with an overtly purposeful aim we explore the tension between ethnography as a tool for understanding the problem and the question of whether the scaled result truly addresses the end-users’ problem.
Returning to the bushfires, we again look at the scaled government response and the question of how successfully this met the needs of those impacted. We explore the...
PechaKucha Presentation—In this presentation we argue that in many regulated industries such as banking, finance, and insurance, a post qualitative vs. quantitative world is not yet a reality. In such an environment, advanced analytics could be likened to being in its teenage years, while behavioral research is still in its infancy. Big data primarily drives our metrics, but in such a highly digitized and individualized culture, we know that ethnography is the missing piece of the puzzle. This means that as social scientists we must be the loudest (and sometimes lone) voice calling to leverage employees who are trained in these skill sets and incorporate these methods into our work. Slow and steady wins the race and our wins look different when compared with companies that already have been convinced of the value and don't have to do as much work to incorporate them into existing analysis. We have found that becoming EPIC members has been a turning point for our own...
Harvard Business School
PechaKucha Presentation—Customer ethnography and user research continues to move higher up the priority list of Fortune 500 corporations. As a design researcher at a global consultancy, my clients often consist of new or aspiring consumer research groups eager to scale quickly. Excited at first, these groups or individuals are ready to dive in but get discouraged by the size and price tag of “big leap user research projects” then end up never pursuing ethnography at all. Watching this pattern unfold client after client, it started to remind of making sourdough. Because novice bakers start out trying to make sourdough from scratch, expecting heaps of picturesque loaf of bread right off the bat. But that's not how sourdough is made. The first step is finding a “starter”. Sourdough starters are small pieces of fermented dough that one can really only get from an experienced baker. You need to integrate it into your ingredients and to make the sourdough rise, scale, and bubble....
Convo Research & Strategy Pvt Ltd
PechaKucha Presentation—This paper raises the implications of simplifying algorithms for scale and uplifting content that is damaging for human evolution. Technology is powerful because of its scale and also disempowering for the same reason. Scale is in the variables and online media, in the zest of empowering women, is deciding our fate. I get it when the housewife looks to YouTube to cook a meal. However, I also see the heartbreak when what should be freeing is actually being used to throttle progress. When a girl from a small sub-segment of global population like Rajasthan, while wanting to feel empowered realises that she's unable to measure up? Are we responsible for this? Are our “hashtags” and “likes” fuelling our continued repression?
As an ethnographer, I study media consumption to overcome barriers to participation in the online world, and as a gender trainer, I also create and use media content to overcome barriers in the real world. I find myself continually...
STEPHEN Ó MATHÚNA
PechaKucha Presentation—The digital world has given us unprecedented access to information about ourselves. As human beings we can quantify ourselves on the basis of how much we eat, how much we exercise, how many miles we've travelled, among dozens of other facets of our lives. As technology gives us access to more and more 1s and 0s, our ability to measure and codify ourselves grows exponentially.
But these data can tell us stories, if we take the opportunity to stop and reflect on them. In this talk I examine one facet of my life – my reading habits – and put it under the microscope. I try to learn more about myself by examining seven years’ worth of raw data, collected across 200 books. Using the research findings I make recommendations to myself about my reading habits, addressing areas such as author diversity, genre variety, among others. In addition, I explore the power of books in evoking emotional memories. Books anchor us in place, in time, and in emotional contexts. I argue that...
Spendlove and Lamb
PechaKucha Presentation—What do Hamlet, Daenerys Targaryen and Persona development have in common? As an actress I had an in-depth understanding of character development but struggled with creating insights from personas. I embarked on a quest to find out why. I interviewed one of the greatest authority's on Shakespeare, John Bell, AO, OBE FRSN about The Bard's greatest gift to storytelling, the invention of personality and characters. I share the realization that came next, how an individual character's tragic flaw can resonate at scale.
Megan Davis is originally from Michigan and now living and creating in Melbourne, Australia. As the founder and lead storyteller at Spendlove and Lamb, she has been discovering stories since 2012, specializing in narrative based communication strategies, using human centred design practices to create meaningful visions of the future. Each bespoke framework uses stories to strategically move projects, organizations and governments into the new realities they...
This 2019 project conducted in the US and the UK sought to understand which conspiracy theories are harmful and which are benign, with an eye towards finding ways to combat disinformation and extremism. This case study demonstrates how ethnographic methods led to insights on what “triggered” conspiracy belief, the social and emotional roles conspiracy theories played in believers’ lives, and how conspiracy belief was often a reflection of a person's general sense of societal alienation. We discovered that any extreme version of a conspiracy theory could be harmful. The findings of this project changed how the client—and by extension engineers behind major tech platforms—understood harmful conspiracy-related content, and led to a refinement of the algorithms defining the discoverability of this content. The aim of this project was to scale and amplify through algorithmic interventions the work of individual debunkers.
Keywords: Conspiracy theories,...
University of Cambridge & SympTech Ltd
This case study explores the scaling experience of an early-stage healthtech startup company called myICUvoice. During the Covid-19 pandemic, myICUvoice rapidly scaled from a single intensive care environment to being widely used nationally (UK) as well as globally. We explore why and how so many volunteers were motivated to donate their time and expertise to help scale this early stage startup. Specifically, we examine the roles that empathy played throughout the scaling process. There are three distinct types of empathy that we have identified in our story: em-pathos, empathetic understanding, and mass-empathy. These each had a distinct role in driving the startup forward. Importantly, we note that human-centered design (which often focuses almost exclusively on achieving empathetic understanding) will immensely benefit from considering the multiple types, and multi-faceted...
REBECCA J HAZEN
Zillow is undergoing a major evolution, transitioning from serving as the world's largest digital marketplace for real estate advertising into an end-to-end platform to support customers across the phases of buying, selling, and renting homes. As Zillow expands into more transactional spaces, the company has recognized the need to develop a clear and actionable understanding of users and their experiences as they interact with our products and services. To address this need, we set out to establish an Experience Measurement program to provide organization-wide visibility into how well our Zillow experiences meet users’ needs and expectations as they progress through their real estate journey. This program will enable teams to gain insights at the intersection of attitudinal and behavioral experience data and lead us to our end goal of empowering informed decision-making across all levels of the experience and organization.
In this paper, we...
The case study presented is an in-depth view on the project “Casa nel Parco” (translated as “the House in the Park”), a three-year, European-funded project (ERDF Funds 2014-2020) in the Italian region of Piedmont that involves 4 hospitals, 2 large companies, 14 small-medium enterprises, 2 universities, and 2 private research centers. The goal is to research and innovate hospital-homecare services for elderly and ALS patients, as well as their caregivers, through the implementation of e-health solutions. The uniqueness of our case study lays on the fact that our ethnographic work was pivotal in shifting the narrative of closed hospital ecosystems (Goffman 1961); where those outside of the hospital environment are not viewed as credible or essential sources for improving the care system. In this...
3A Institute, Australian National University
PechaKucha Presentation—A wise woman once shared with me that the opposite of poverty isn't wealth. It's dignity. In a world where scale is about optimising for something bigger, faster, easier, broader and more profitable, we risk decision-making that is at odds with preserving, enabling and enhancing human dignity. What if we changed our focus to instead work out how we scale human dignity?
This PechaKucha draws on my career across consulting, social enterprise and academia in geographies from Sydney CBD to rural Uganda and highlights three moments where I experienced dignity that I believe can scale.
Through the telling of stories it shows glimmers of how we can choose a definition of scale that preferences dignity. It can look like making space for a chicken gift, enshrining dignity in our organisational values and structures and building question-asking muscles.
If we believe that the opposite of poverty is dignity, then scaling dignity is an antidote to poverty....
PechaKucha Presentation—When a man rang our doorbell late at night and claimed that his teenage daughter was in our house, but she wasn't, my husband and I considered getting a doorbell cam. With camera surveillance and facial recognition becoming more commonplace, we wanted a privileged view of our surroundings, and a sense of control over what was happening on our doorstep. But, while we wanted the doorbell cam to see our late-night visitor if he ever came back, we knew it would also see us coming and going, and living our lives. We put the thought of a camera aside, but a few weeks later another uninvited guest knocked on our door. The coronavirus arrived in the US with a vengeance, and suddenly everybody we saw was a possible carrier of contagion. My husband and I, the people who had rejected a little doorbell cam as being too invasive of our privacy, started daydreaming about living in a country like Korea where our privacy and independence would be tested, but where our interdependence...
PechaKucha Presentation—The conference theme for EPIC2020 is all about scale. For many, scale will probably evoke images of sizing up, moving forward, getting better. But does scale carry the same meaning in all contexts? Could scaling back be the key to enacting scales successfully? And is it possible to enact scales when ethnography and the broader topic of anthropology are unheard among those around you? Reflecting on my own experience working in Thailand and China and my encounters with other design and business anthropologists working in Asia, I share an honest career narrative about enacting scales. My PechaKucha speaks truthfully about the struggles in applying ethnography, and inspires with learnings on how anthropologists can adapt the broader practice of anthropology and find ways to continue contributing to organisations across societies in Asia.
Tiffany Tivasuradej is a Consultant at Ogilvy in Hong Kong. She holds a degree in biological anthropology from Durham University (UK). She...
JOYCE S. LEE
University of California, Berkeley
PechaKucha Presentation—Paper documents are increasingly being replaced with digital files, infinitely replicable for seemingly no cost. Yet I've always felt the pull of paper, with a personal affinity for physical books and a background in magazine production. Through my recreational publishing practice, I learn of the “riso” or risograph, a duplicating machine increasingly adopted by Bay Area artists and technology corporations alike. Upon first glance, most risograph models resemble familiar Xerox machines, with their boxy, gray exteriors, protruding buttons, and hinged tops that cover glass beds for scanning.
Through my own experiences and interviews with subject matter experts, however, I come to understand the allure of the risograph: its temperamental nature as an analog machine and the uniquely “human” quality of the prints it renders. I posit the risograph's popularity is a response to technological advances and resulting societal changes, acting as a reprieve...