Advancing the Value of Ethnography

Eyes on Tomorrow: How Pathfinders Help Facebook See beyond the Horizon to Build Responsible Products


An EPIC2021 Sponsored Panel by Facebook

Pathfinders, foresight strategists, and responsible innovation researchers help Facebook understand how cultures and communities evolve so our teams can create products that meet future needs. They think beyond the current moment to provide insight that minimizes potential risk to people, societies, and environments and help build toward promising opportunities. Although these researchers come from different backgrounds, they all share characteristics that are quite familiar to ethnographers: a propensity to think holistically, an appreciation of evolutionary patterns, and the ability to situate insights within large, complex systems across time horizons. Attendees will learn how pathfinders, foresight strategists, and responsible innovation researchers apply these qualities to their work at Facebook, as well as how attendees might apply similar future thinking and strategic approaches to their own work.


Jay Hasbrouck has over 15 years experience working as an anthropologist in industry settings, including both in-house roles and consulting. He currently works as a Pathfinder in Facebook’s New Products Experimentation group, focusing on discovering the ‘next next’ for 0-1 early stage products. Jay is also the author of Ethnographic Thinking: From Method to Mindset, and reflects on life as an anthropologist in his blog:

Sanya Attari is a strategist and researcher focused on emerging technologies, wearables, and enterprise software. As a computer scientist turned researcher, Sanya brings a strong connection between engineering organizations, complex products, and user needs. Lately she has been leading research on defining the next generation of advertising platforms and building responsible innovative products at Facebook. Prior to this, Sanya led research and human factors teams at Amazon, Immersion Corporation, and Cisco Systems.

Genevieve Conley Gambill is a foresight strategist with Facebook Reality Labs (FRL). Prior to joining FRL, Genevieve helped chart the future of News Feed as a pathfinding researcher on Facebook’s Feed & Stories Team. She partners closely with business leaders to deeply understand what’s changing in the world, anticipate future threats & opportunities, and build a plan to prepare. Her current focal areas include social acceptability for emerging technologies and the future of online social connection.

Jamie Kimmel leads research for Instagram Labs, a team at Instagram that looks for new opportunity areas for the app. He’s also on the Board of Directors for Facebook, Inc. hackathons, where he helps Researchers and other non-Engineering roles understand how to participate in 0-1 environments like hacks.