Postcards from Isolation: Digital Artefacts from the Lockdown Time

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PechaKucha Presentation—‘Postcards from Isolation’ is a collection of collaborative & interactive experiences that represent the shifts caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. The origins of the project lie in a reflection on the deeper social, cultural and economical impact of being in isolation. Drawing on ethnographic accounts (Malinowski, Mead), we studied how the context of being isolated these days corresponds to the uniqueness of geographical islands - spaces that enforce a different connection to land and its resources; and ones that lead to unique cultural patterns. Drawing on that metaphor, we explored to what extent we, as individuals, may be evolving into symbolic islands of our own, driven by similar powers, at a scale unlike before. What can we learn from that? How can we visualise these shifts for others to remember?

The nonprofit project was self-initiated by a group of cross disciplinary HCD colleagues. The website (isolation.is) currently holds 15 Postcards that represent shifts most important to its contributors. This PechaKucha tells a story of how Postcards became (1) a platform that allows for a rich understanding of how the COVID pandemic is shifting our lives; (2) a living repository of digital artefacts that can be studied like any other piece of material culture; and (3) a collection of digital drawings that are an important asset in any anthropologists’ notebook (Taussig).

Keywords: digital artefacts, isolation, islands

Anna Wojnarowska is a senior user researcher, currently working at Google. She is informing the design of health and wellbeing products by applying ethnographic methods to global research projects. Before Google she worked at a design consultancy, Experientia, and spent years freelancing in the public sector in the UK - with central government, local councils and the NHS being some of her previous clients. Recently she started applying her research skills and expertise onto conceptual side projects like Postcards.

Citation: 2020 EPIC Proceedings p 323, ISSN 1559-8918, https://www.epicpeople.org/epic

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