EPIC2018

Design & Data

Chair: JEANETTE BLOMBERG, Distinguished Researcher, IBM Almaden Research Center Panelists: MARC BÖHLEN, Professor, Department of Art, Emerging Practices, State University of New York at Buffalo TOM LEE, Director of Data Science, Fisher Center for Business Analytics, University of California Berkeley What does a data expert see when they look at a design problem? This panel immerses us in the practices of two data experts, both of whom have collaborated with ethnographers, as they navigate through design challenges in different ways. Chair Jeanette Blomberg draws the panelists and audience into conversation about synergies and challenges for interdisciplinary design collaborations. Jeanette Blomberg is Distinguished Researcher at the IBM Almaden Research Center and Adjunct Professor at Roskilde University in Denmark. She has done foundational work on ethnography in design processes over three decades, and her current research is focused on organizational analytics and the linkages between human action, digital data production, data...

The Story As Evidence: It’s Yours, It’s Mine, It’s Theirs

NIK JARVIE-WALDROM Empathy PechaKucha Presentation I've been reflecting on my role in the use and abuse of evidence — in the past as a radio producer and more recently as a writer in a design research company. Storytelling is held aloft as something businesses need to do more of — and be better at — but often the narratives do not belong to businesses. We are re-tellers. The work of a writer presenting design research isolates evidence from its source. There are limits to what we can do to make sure evidence is considered alongside the intention it was gathered with. I started working on this because I wanted to share my indignation at evidence I gathered being misrepresented. My editors have turned stories of triumph into stories of disaster to get more clicks. But I've noticed the similarity between my questioning of editors, and the anthropologists I work with questioning me. Evidence exists in relation to questions. Defining the things we're curious about helps us focus, and decide which evidence to seek out. Ethnographers...

Midway Atoll

SARAH BROOKS IBM PechaKucha Presentation We live our lives in contexts of overlapping systems. Developing the skill to connect dots of evidence between social, ecological and economic evidence offers the potential for more effective interventions in complex challenges. Sarah Brooks, Sarah Brooks’ teaching and design practice sits at the intersection of design research, service design, and social innovation. She currently serves as a Design Executive and Distinguished Designer at IBM. 2018 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 696, ISSN 1559-8918...

Rejected!: Design Research, Publics and the Purging of New Technologies

LAURA CESAFSKY Nissan Research Center, Silicon Valley PechaKucha Presentation A challenge for design research today lies in naming, knowing and accounting for people who are not direct users of our technologies, but who are nonetheless affected and compelled to interact with them in daily life. This Pecha Kucha takes us to the streets of Bogotá, Colombia, where a new bus system that was roundly rejected becomes a cautionary tale on the perils of ignoring the painpoints of ‘non-direct users.’ Drawing from pragmatist political science, I propose we can usefully understand this latter group as a ‘technological public,’ and I touch on key difficulties of designing for publics. Laura Cesafsky is an urban geographer, transportation nerd, and Human-Centered Systems Design Researcher at Nissan Research Center in Silicon Valley. laura.cesafsky@nissan-usa.com 2018 Ethnographic Praxis in Industry Conference Proceedings, p. 698, ISSN 1559-8918...

Diagnosing the World Pulse

CHRISTOPHER A. GOLIAS, PHD PechaKucha Presentation This PechaKucha explores the ethics of interpreting data by employing an extended metaphor of data as the lifeblood of the connected world. It begins by exploring two distinct viewpoints on medical pulse diagnosis, starting from the perspective of the acupuncturist diagnosing a patient’s pulse and continuing through differences between Eastern pulse diagnosis and biomedical pulse diagnosis. I explore data as lifeblood, and imagine more visceral ways to read data (e.g., auguring data) and the ethical implications of such a reading. I envision data as a flowing river filling a lake, in which diagnostic specialists observe society’s reflection. In the process, I contrast utopian visions of a data driven world with dystopian ones before resolving tension by returning to the central comparison of data scientist and medical doctor. The presentation concludes by recalling medicine’s Hippocratic Oath, an ethical charter binding practitioners to a code of conduct, and implying...

Cooperation without Submission: Some Insights on Knowing, Not-Knowing and Their Relations from Hopi-US Engagements

JUSTIN B. RICHLAND Associate Professor of Anthropology, UC Irvine; Faculty Fellow, American Bar Foundation; Associate Justice, The Hopi Appellate Court EPIC2018 Keynote Address...

The Future is Yours

DONNA K. FLYNN Vice President of WorkSpace Futures, Steelcase EPIC2018 Keynote Address Donna Flynn is Vice President of WorkSpace Futures and Market Insights at Steelcase. She leads a global team of researchers that delve into wicked problems around the future of work and translate those insights to inform the design of strategies, products, and services. Flynn joined Steelcase in 2011 from Microsoft, where she held a number of user experience leadership roles in product groups focused on mobility, healthcare, and consumer strategy. Prior to Microsoft, she led client projects for Sapient in San Francisco, working with technology and telecommunications clients such as Cisco Systems, Sun Microsystems, and Sprint. Earlier in her career she worked on international development and microfinance with the International Center for Research on Women, the U.S. Agency for International Development, and the World Bank. Flynn received her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Northwestern University in 1997. She has been a leader in the EPIC community...

The Perfect uberPOOL: A Case Study on Trade-Offs

JENNY LO Uber Technologies STEVE MORSEMAN Uber Technologies Case Study—One of Uber’s company missions is to make carpooling more affordable and reliable for riders, and effortless for drivers. In 2014 the company launched uberPOOL to make it easy for riders to share their trip with others heading in the same direction. Fundamental to the mechanics of uberPOOL is the intelligence that matches riders for a trip, which can introduce various uncertainties into the user experience. Core to the business objective is understanding how to deliver a ‘Perfect POOL’—an ideal situation where 3 people in the vehicle are able to get in and out at the same time and location allowing for a more predictable and affordable experience. This case study argues that, for a reduced fare and a more direct route, riders are willing to forego the convenience of getting picked up at their door in exchange for waiting and walking a set amount to meet their driver. This case study explores the integration of qualitative and quantitative research...

Evidence Outside the Frame: Interpreting Participants’ “Framing” of Information when Using Participatory Photography

TABITHA STEAGER Pacific AIDS Network This paper discusses the benefits and challenges of participatory photography as ethnographic evidence and how as researchers we can “read” the evidence our participants create. Drawing on examples from an ethnographic study examining concepts and constructions of community on Salt Spring Island, British Columbia, I examine how we can interrogate photographs as data rather than factual evidence. Adages such as “the camera doesn’t lie” support the view of photography as a purveyor of truth. Photos accompanying journalistic dispatches from far-flung outposts around the world are seen as authentic evidence of real-world situations. Amateur videos of people’s life experiences are filmed on smart phones and then posted to YouTube to be taken as authentic representations of life events. Early ethnographic uses celebrated photography as the ultimate tool for showing that anthropologists had actually “been there,” displaying the exoticism of other cultures in factual black and white....

Map Making: Mobilizing Local Knowledge and Fostering Collaboration

NORA MORALES UAM Cuajimalpa, México SALOMON GONZALEZ UAM Cuajimalpa, México Participatory mapping—the production of maps in a collective way—is a common activity used for planning and decision making in urban studies. It started as a way to empower men and women, usually from rural vulnerable communities threatened by climate change, degradation of their landfills or any other conflict related to access to their land. It has been considered a fundamental instrument to help marginal groups represent and communicate their needs within the territory and augment their capacity to protect their rights. (FIDA, 2011). Why is it that in some cases participatory mapping works and in others fails? Why do these initiatives not trigger local action? Or even end up being counterproductive, when authorities use the map made by locals, to validate their points, causing conflict instead of negotiation? As a research team of designers and social scientists involved in the creation of participatory mapping workshops, our goal was to analyze...

Empathy Is not Evidence: Four Traps of Commodified Empathy

RACHEL ROBERTSON Shopify PENNY ALLEN Shopify Product teams, including our own, often interpret empathy as evidence. However, in practice, empathy is actually something that drives us to seek evidence. By observing and evaluating various examples within Shopify, we have identified 4 traps that are common in the way empathy is manifested. We modelled the relationship between empathy, problems, evidence, and decisions to provide strategies for how to use empathy effectively while being sympathetic to its limitations. Since empathy drives us to seek evidence, and thus cannot be considered evidence itself, empathy must be used at an appropriate level of abstraction throughout the product decision-making process in order to influence good decisions....

Humans Can Be Cranky and Data Is Naive: Using Subjective Evidence to Drive Automated Decisions at Airbnb

STEPHANIE CARTER Airbnb RICHARD DEAR Airbnb Case Study—How can we build fairness into automated systems, and what evidence is needed to do so? Recently, Airbnb grappled with this question to brainstorm ways to re-envision the way hosts review guests who stay with them. Reviews are key to how Airbnb builds trust between strangers. In 2018 we started to think about new ways to leverage host reviews for decision making at scale, such as identifying exceptional guests for a potential loyalty program or notifying guests that need to be warned about poor behavior. The challenge is that the evidence available to use for automated decisions, star ratings and reviews left by hosts, are inherently subjective and sensitive to the cross-cultural contexts in which they were created. This case study explores how the collaboration between research and data science revealed that the underlying constraint for Airbnb to leverage subjective evidence is a fundamental difference between ‘public’ and ‘private’ feedback. The outcome of this integrated,...

Can I Get a Witness? The Limits of Evidence in Healthcare Quality Evaluation Systems in American Hospitals

LINDSAY FERRIS Ad Hoc, LLC DR. NICHOLE CARELOCK Ad Hoc, LLC “I got verbals, but verbals don’t hold up in court….I need it in black and white.” After Sheila submits hospital quality data to the Center for Medicaid and Medicare Services (CMS), reports indicate that her data hasn’t been received. She makes countless calls to the CMS Help Desk to get answers. They reassure her numerous times that they have her data, yet Sheila is insistent that she needs to see the change explicitly stated in the report. Sheila makes it her personal crusade to obtain material evidence because only written testimony will prove that her data has been submitted successfully and protect her facility from CMS penalties. At a time when we are becoming increasingly reliant on data and technology as the ultimate bearers of truth, Sheila exemplifies how people become stewards of evidence in service to these technical systems. As she moves her facilities’ data through CMS’ error-ridden reporting system, the burden of proof is on her to provide the...

Doing Ethnography in AirSpace: The Promise and Danger of ‘Frictionless’ Global Research

TOM HOY Stripe Partners ‘AirSpace’, according to Kyle Chayka, is the increasingly homogenized experience of the western(ized) business traveller, driven by major tech platforms (including Google, Airbnb and Uber.) As international travellers, ethnographers must account for the impact of AirSpace on their research practice. After delineating the concept of AirSpace the paper posits three dangers ethnographers must negotiate: (1) The cost of control: AirSpace offers researchers control, but can narrow the scope of research (2) The risk of superficiality: AirSpace provides shortcuts to cultural understanding, but can limit deeper comprehension (3) The assumption of equivalence: AirSpace provides shared reference points, but can create the illusion of equivelance with research subjects. By exploring these three dangers the paper invites readers to reflect on their own research practice and consider how to utilize the benefits of these platforms while mitigating the issues outlined....

Below the Surface of the Data Lake: An Ethnographic Case Study on the Detrimental Effect of Big Data Path Dependency at a Theme Park

JACOB WACHMANN ReD Associates ANDREAS JUNI ReD Associates DAVE BAIOCCHI ReD Associates WILLIAM WELSER IV ReD Associates Case Study—This case-study details how a team of anthropologists and a team of data scientists sought to help a Middle Eastern theme park make use of their big data platform to measure ‘the good customer experience’. Ethnographic research within the theme park revealed that visitors yearned to bond with the other members of their group, as they rarely got the chance during their busy everyday lives back home. However, trying to build a measurement of how the theme park delivered on bonding – through the development of a ‘bonding index’ – turned out to be unfeasible, because the big data platform focused on capturing operational data. The decision to focus on operational data had unintentionally created a path dependency that made the big data setup unfit for answering some of the theme park’s most fundamental questions. This is a problem ReD Associates has observed across clients and to solve it this...