Intelligences

The Conceit of Oracles

TRICIA WANG Good morning, I am really excited to be here for my first EPIC conference. There are just so many amazing people in the audience as I look at you guys, and so many of you guys I've been following on blogs and Twitter and especially Natalie Hanson’s anthrodesign listserv. I can’t wait to talk to you guys all afterwards. Just as a reminder, I don’t know if Simon already said it, but if you’re tweeting or instragramming—use the conference hashtag EPIC 2013. If throughout the talk you have any questions, or if anything resonates with you, this is my Twitter and Instagram handle.For over twelve centuries in Ancient Greece in consulting oracles, a person who could predict the future was a part of everyday Hellenistic life. People—poor, wealthy, slave and free—asked oracles for them to answer important life questions such as should I get married, or will I come back from war alive, or questions related to business matters. Should I invest in this voyage? There were questions related to political affairs like should...

Back to the Future of Work: Informing Corporate Renewal

JENNIFER WATTS-ENGLERT, MARGARET SZYMANSKI, PATRICIA WALL, MARY ANN SPRAGUE and BRINDA DALAL This paper describes the results of a multi-year ethnographic study of how knowledge workers integrate new technology into their work practices. We studied mobile and remote workers who use smartphones, tablets, cloud computing, and social networking to support their work. Study findings describe the characteristics of mobile work, the coordination of multiple devices and sources of information, how new technology functioned as a social resource and issues that arose when participants used personal mobile devices to support work. We will also discuss how we are working with corporate teams to renew our research projects, and the solutions and services the company offers to support the changing nature of work....

One Case, Three Ethnographic Styles: Exploring Different Ethnographic Approaches to the Same Broad Brief

FABIAN SEGELSTRöM and STEFAN HOLMLID In a research project aimed at suggesting improvements at an annual advent fair three different ethnographic research approaches were used; Social Anthropology, Interaction Design and Mobile Ethnography. The paper focuses on how the three different approaches on ethnography affected choices in the research process, the outcomes of the research and how the outcomes were presented. It is found that the different motivations for doing ethnography between the three approaches make their outcomes differ in a clear way. These differences make the three ethnographic approaches suitable for achieving different research outcomes....

The Ethnographer Unbounded: Considering Open Source in Corporate Environments

NICOLE CONAND and ALICIA DORNADIC Technological advances that enable seemingly endless information sharing, as well as various counter efforts that attempt to limit and control access to information, have prompted us to reexamine how industry-based practitioners of ethnography promulgate their research. A comparison of two distinct professional experiences reveals how varying degrees of information “openness” impact ethnographic work. One occurs within a large corporation in which research is proprietary and confidential. The second is an open source project supported by a Knight Foundation grant. In doing so, we aim to discern which elements of open source ethnography have beneficial applications in corporate environments. We present a “layering model,” as well as a set of questions to consider, as a way of determining which aspects of ethnographic research should be shared and with whom....

Detroit is a Blank Slate: Metaphors in the Journalistic Discourse of Art and Entrepreneurship in the City of Detroit

SIOBHAN GREGORY This paper presents an investigation of metaphoric language in the contemporary discourse of Detroit’s “renewal.” News articles from local and national news sources from 2009-2011 provide evidence of critical and provocative metaphoric constructions found in the gentrification discourse of Detroit. As harbingers of gentrification, the discourse communities of artists and business entrepreneurs are the focus of this review. The author argues that metaphoric language in journalism must be critically evaluated and challenged to help ensure sustainable, equitable, and historically sensitive “renewal” of the city of Detroit and similar inner-city urban communities experiencing gentrification....

Integrating Organizational and Design Perspectives to Address Challenges of Renewal: A Case Study of NASA’s Post-shuttle Workforce Transition

JO AIKEN As organizations become increasingly complex and technology-dependent, likewise their challenges become increasingly complex and technology-driven. In the practice of organizational and design ethnography, the elements of organization and technology design overlap. However, a need remains for an explicit framework to deal with the complex challenges of innovation and change faced by contemporary organizations. This need is evident in a case study of NASA’s workforce transition as a result of the space shuttle’s retirement. NASA’s challenge is both organizational and technological – the end of the Space Shuttle Program left the agency without a clear replacement vehicle and the risk of losing an experienced, expert workforce. An integrated organizational and design approach could foster an environment of renewal by involving stakeholders at all levels of the agency and adopting a future-oriented approach to anticipating change....

Opting Out Of Stasis: Using Integrated Techniques to Create Sustainable Change and Renewal in Healthcare Organizations

LINDSEY MESSERVY and BETH WERNER In recent times, hospitals and healthcare organizations have become more accepting of using human-centered approaches, including ethnography, to lend insight on how to prevent risk, increase efficiency, improve staff experience, and advance delivery of care. But often times, these approaches lack the tools and techniques needed to carry these insights to implementation. This paper identifies and reflects on the hurdles that make change and innovation difficult and how the integration of practices, such as quantitative, co-creative, and change management, with ethnographic methods can help facilitate responsive and sustainable transformation in healthcare organizations....

Cracking the Marketplace of Ideas

PHILIP DELVES BROUGHTON Philip Delves Broughton is a journalist, management writer, and best-selling author of two books. Philip was a journalist with The Daily Telegraph for ten years, latterly as Paris Bureau Chief (2002-04) before he took an MBA at Harvard, which became the subject of his first book, the best-selling What They Teach You at Harvard Business School. Philip writes regularly for The Financial Times, The Wall Street Journal and The Spectator. From 2009-2010, he spent several months at Apple writing case studies for Apple University, its internal management program, and now works with The Kauffman Foundation for Entrepreneurship and Education. His most recent book The Art of the Sale: Learning from the Masters about the Business of Life is an ‘insightful scholarly treatise on sales’ with a global perspective on this critical business function....

On Models

HUGH DUBBERLY Wow, I couldn’t be more honored. I’m really, really glad to be here.I want to thank Rick for that very flattering introduction. I’d also like to thank Maria, Luis, and Rick for inviting me here.I want to talk about why I believe models are crucial in designing and in research.I want to begin with three embarrassing admissions. First: Design is stuck. And by that, I mean we don’t know how to make progress as designers. As an example of that I want talk about the AIGA National conference in Boston. The first conference was in 1985. AIGA is the American Institute of Graphic Arts. It’s the main professional organization for graphic designers. Wonderful conference. Milton Glazer came and spoke. Brilliant graphic designer; gave a wonderful talk; showed some really great work. Nicholas Negroponte was also invited, and he came and talked about the work of the Architecture Machine Group and the just forming Media Lab. Twenty years later, the AIGA national conference was in Boston again, and Milton Glazer came and...

Mobility is More than a Device: Understanding Complexity in Health Care with Ethnography

TODD S. HARPLE, GINA LUCIA TAHA, NANCY VUCKOVIC and ANNA WOJNAROWSKA This case study on mobility in health care demonstrates how ethnography and design research helped Intel meet the business challenge of redressing market share. Ethnography enabled the team to assess the interplay between mobile devices and other hospital technologies, understand how they fit within or subverted existing practices, and document positive and negative features of the technology. Our deliverables not only answered the direct business question, but also expanded the scope of possible solutions....

The “Consumption Junction” of ICT in Emerging Markets: An Ethnography of Middlemen

ELISA OREGLIA and KATHI KITNER In rural China and India, a fragmented commercial distribution system and the lack of online shopping can significantly limit the range of consumer choice. In this paper, we look at the role that mobile phone shopkeepers—the middlemen—play in influencing what users can and will buy, but also in training them in using and understanding technology....

Understanding Mediated Practices: Combining Ethnographic Methods with Blog Data to Develop Insights

JONATHAN BEAN and ZEYNEP ARSEL While theories of practice have been influential in the social sciences, these frameworks have seen limited application in ethnographic and applied inquiry, perhaps because few methods for carrying out practice theoretical research have been elaborated. We address this opportunity and provide an account of a multi-method inquiry on domestic practice. First, we explain methods for integrating data from blogs with ethnographic methods and how this data can be used to develop theory. Second, we share our experience as interdisciplinary researchers using ethnographic and quantitative data to connect work at the boundaries of social practice theory and theories of consumption. Finally, we share our insights on why industry should aim to better understand existing and emergent consumer practices....

Ethnography and the “Age Wave”: Knowledge Capture for Succession Planning

KRISTINE MCKENZIE GENTRY The “age wave,” or aging of the population and concurrent increase in retirees, is creating a loss of knowledge unlike that experienced in the American work force to date. Since many Baby Boomers are loyal employees who have worked for the same employer for several decades, the knowledge, both tacit and explicit, contained within this single generation is vast and integral to the continued success of many organizations and industries. While Knowledge Management (KM) has become a priority for many organizations, several studies have shown that current KM methods and technologies have not proven effective as a means of transferring knowledge between workers. Ethnography offers some advantages as a technique to capture, record, and transfer tacit and explicit knowledge. This paper uses two case studies to examine how ethnography and a co-creative method can b e utilized to assist with knowledge management and succession planning....

From Street to Satellite: Mixing Methods to Understand Mobile Money Users

ERIN B. TAYLOR and HEATHER A. HORST How do users incorporate mobile money into their existing practices and adapt it to their needs? The answers can be surprising. Simultaneously a commodity, a store of value, and a social good, mobile money combines a large array of applications within the one platform. This is why mobile money has been touted for its potential for socioeconomic development, as a profitable commercial enterprise, and even as a tool for strengthening governance. The fact that customers rarely use it for just one purpose can also make it difficult to untangle customers’ motives and behaviors. In this paper we compare our own research with other studies to demonstrate how deploying a full suite of ethnographic methods (qualitative and quantitative) can provide significant insights into users. We present three key insights relating to time, trust, and traces / trajectories, and make suggestions for the future of mobile money research....

Framed by Experience: From User Experience to Strategic Incitement

ARVIND VENKATARAMANI and CHRISTOPHER AVERY Ethnographic and other related practices in industry focus - for a variety of historical reasons - primarily on studying the experiences of individuals/institutions as consumers/users. We suggest that this framing limits our work to descriptive forms of knowledge, and renders invisible larger social and institutional changes that nevertheless have an impact on the domains we study, and whose invisibility curtails the forms of innovation we can support. While a variety of practitioners are indeed broadening the range and scope of their work, we contend that for this expansion to succeed sustainably in our community it must also incorporate a discourse on values, and engage with other forms of knowing outside the frame of consumers and users, by encompassing context and engaging in a values discourse....