EPIC2019

EPIC2019 Ethnographic Film

The film session at EPIC explores the ways ethnographic practitioners have used moving images to interpret data, share insights, and tell the stories of their work. Filmmakers showcase these forays in visual storytelling by screening examples and discussing the limits and possibilities of the form. Films were selected through anonymous review. Program Introduction, Charley Scull Food for Thought: The Path to Food Security in Newark, RUCHIKA MUCHHALA, Third Kulture Media The Learning Library: Using Ethnographic Film as an Organizational Change Tool by Scaling Human Insights across a National Preschool System, HAL PHILLIPS & MEG KINNEY, Bad Babysitter Clyde in Mulberry, ALLEGRA OXBOROUGH, Aero Creative Agency in the Smart Home of the Future, NICK AGAFONOFF, Real Ethnography Introduction CHARLEY SCULL, Committee Chair and Film Session Curator Considering the theme of agency through the lens of film offers many avenues for exploration, in terms of both the stories that film can feature and the power...

EPIC2019 Proceedings Are Here!

EPIC2019 AGENCY in Providence, RI, was a blast of activity, provocation, conversation, and learning. Now you can access the conference online! All articles are FREE to read, download, and share with your colleagues, teams, clients, and in-laws. They include full-length papers and case studies, as well as abstracts of all presentations. Conference video is available…

Keynote Address: Zach Lieberman

EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island ZACH LIEBERMAN, School for Poetic Computation Zach Lieberman is an artist, researcher and educator with a simple goal: he wants you surprised. In his work, he creates performances and installations that take human gesture as input and amplify them in different ways—making drawings come to life, imagining what the voice might look like if we could see it, transforming peoples silhouettes into music. He’s been listed as one of Fast Company’s Most Creative People and his projects have won the Golden Nica from Ars Electronica, Interactive Design of the Year from Design Museum London as well as listed in Time Magazine’s Best Inventions of the Year. He creates artwork through writing software, is a co-creator of openFrameworks, an open source C++ toolkit for creative coding, and helped co-found the School for Poetic Computation, a school examining the lyrical possibilities of code. His website is zach.li and he’s active on Instagram and Twitter....

Agency and the Climate Emergency

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: DAN LOCKTON, Director of the Imaginaries Lab & Chair of Design Studies, Carnegie Mellon University Panelists: MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN, Urban Soils Fellow, Anthropocene, Urban Soils Institute GYORGYI GALIK, Lead Advisor, Architecture and Built Environment Team, Design Council; Royal College of Art MIKE YOUNGBLOOD, Principal, Youngblood Group What are ethnographers’ roles in dealing with catastrophic climate crisis? Should we be exploring people’s experiences of change, trying to use our insights to help drive individual and collective action at scale through organizations, or helping civil society deal with the consequences? In this diverse set of presentations, panelists share ethnographic and design approaches to climate that engage communities, products, policy, artists, activists, and more. They examine tensions, responsibilities, and value that ethnographic practice can bring to one of the biggest issues for our collective futures....

EPIC2019 Gallery

Gallery installations at EPIC2019 evoked multi-modal experiences of ethnographic practice—written, oral, visual, three-dimensional, interactive, critical, reflective. These creative projects offered conference attendees diverse experiences of agency and ethnography. The conference committee made an open call for proposals and selected installations through anonymous review. Gallery Committee Chair: ANJA MAERZ, Babylon Health Carolina Amiguet, Google MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN, Urban Soils Institute ANNA HICKEY-MOODY, RMIT University SHEILA PONTIS, Princeton University WAFA SAID MOSLEH, University of Southern Denmark Installations The Ethno-graphic Sensibility, Jamie McPike & Diana Graizbord Socially Informed Policy and Planning for AV Mobility in Rhode Island, Kate Fisher Agency via Avatar Emotions in Virtual Reality, Ayfer Gokalp & Jacqueline Pospisil Office Humour, James O’Neill, Francesco Pini & Frauke Hein What Are Memories Made of?, Hema Malini Waghray Debris, Daria Loi & Heather McGeachy...

Tech Colonialism Today

EPIC2019 Keynote Address, Providence, Rhode Island SAREETA AMRUTE, Director of Research, Data & Society; Associate Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington Studies on the social effects of computing have enumerated the harms done by AI, social media, and algorithmic decision-making to underrepresented communities in the United States and around the globe. I argue that the approaches of enumerating harms and arguing for inclusion have to be unsettled. These approaches, while important, frame populations as victims whose existence is dominated by and divided from centers of power. We lack a structural analysis of how these harms fit into a larger social economic pattern. I ask us to consider instead whether all of these harms add up to computing technologies today being one of the largest aspects of a colonial relationship today. Using historical evidence, the talk will consider what makes something ‘colonial’ to begin with, and then weigh corporate computing’s relationship with the world to gauge whether...

Agency and Innovation

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: DAWN NAFUS, Senior Researcher, Intel Labs Panelists: MELISSA CEFKIN, Principal Researcher, Alliance Innovation Lab Silicon Valley MICHAEL LITTMAN, Professor of Computer Science & Co-Director of the Humanity Centered Robotics Initiative, Brown University CLAPPERTON CHAKANETSA MAVHUNGA, Associate Professor of Science, Technology, and Society, MIT HELI RANTAVUO, Senior Insights Manager, Growth Opportunities Mission, Markets Business Unit, Spotify Robotics, machine learning, and other technologies are provoking new hopes and fears about human agency. Tropes of the charismatic lone innovator, whether hero or villain, are also starting to lose popular currency. When we acknowledge that the agents of the built world are not just people who call themselves “innovators” but are made up of many kinds of people, and physical materials, new questions arise. How do issues of responsibility, accountability, attribution, and even regulation get solved in situations of distributed...

Representation & Representative-ness

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: DONNA LANCLOS, Anodyne Anthropology LLC Panelists: AUTUMN SANDERS FOSTER, Founder, Quire Consulting AMBER HAMPTON GREENE, Experience Research & Service Design, Cityblock Health JORDAN KRAEMER, Research Associate, Implosion Labs, LLC RUCHIKA MUCHHALA, Consultant/Filmmaker, Third Kulture Media Ethnographers take pride in representing people’s voices with fidelity, empathy, and deep contextual understanding. But our work can end up reinforcing a distinction between people who “have experience” that we study for insights and people who “have expertise” to use, shape, and monetize that experience. We’ll tackle a range of core questions: As organizations increasingly value representations of “user” or “customer” experience, what responsibilities come with this role? To what extent are we confronting the ways that the anthropologist on the project gets used to distancing people from their own expertise about their everyday lives? When we present...

Reconceptualizing Privacy

EPIC2019 Panel, Providence, Rhode Island Moderator: KEN ANDERSON, Principal Researcher, Intel Corporation Panelists: LIZ KENESKI, Head of Privacy Research, Facebook Inc. PETER LEVIN, Principal Researcher, Autodesk ELENA O’CURRY, Senior User Researcher, Uber JEFF SOKOLOV, Designer & Researcher, IBM Watson Health Algorithmic systems are increasingly integrated into the physical and digital infrastructures of our lives. The borders of privacy are being pushed and redefined, provoking new debate about what privacy is. All corporations claim privacy is important, but what does that mean? Panelists will consider what privacy might look like or mean when individuals are tied into multiple networks, both human and AI. KEN ANDERSON, panel chair, is an anthropologist, who is a Principal Engineer in Next Generation Standards at Intel Corporation. He does pathfinding at the intersection of technology, strategy, and the human experience to drive towards creating technology that enables us to have richer relationships,...

Representation & Representative-ness

by DONNA LANCLOS, Anodyne Anthropology Donna is chairing the EPIC2019 panel "Representation & Representative-ness" on Monday, Nov 11, 11–12:00 in Providence, Rhode Island. EPIC2019 is around the corner and I’m excited to share the panel I have been invited to facilitate this year with a fantastic group of ethnographers: We will be tackling the ever-relevant theme of “representation”, a topic with a long legacy in ethnography and anthropology. Actually, I feel like the panel already started in the terrific discussions we had to develop our abstract, so I want to share some of that thinking here to inspire you to join the conversation in Providence! Our abstract begins: Ethnographers take pride in representing people’s voices with fidelity, empathy, and deep contextual understanding. But our work can end up reinforcing a distinction between people who “have experience” that we study for insights and people who “have expertise” to use, shape, and monetize that experience. In response...

The EPIC Gallery: A Space for Action and Intervention

by MAKALÉ FABER CULLEN “We don’t fail because we are not intelligent or erudite enough; we fail because we don’t present our stakeholders with engaging material that will improve their ideas. We choose the medium which makes us comfortable, not the one our stakeholders would prefer.” — Sam Ladner, Practical Ethnography (159) Our work as ethnographers, as social scientists, is rich, experiential, relational, multi-dimensional and full-sensory. As often as we can, we immerse ourselves in communities and in landscapes and then—we heighten all our senses, turn down our ego and try to understand the context. Nothing is as important as context. We document and analyze these contexts and the individuals and objects within them, refining them for a new context of service design or product development that is itself a whole new ecosystem of relationships, ethics, finances, goals, timescapes. Businesses and organizations have distinct customs, rituals, and standards for creating "evidence-that-counts." EPIC2019...