by SAKARI TAMMINEN, Gemic
These days a wide range of new digital products are being lumped together in the much-hyped category ‘Wearables’—heart-monitoring shirts, shoes that monitor muscle fatigue, smart watches of all sorts. What’s new about these products is their digital characteristics, but what's really interesting about them is that the category itself is actually very old. The essence of wearables lies not in their new digital functionalities, but in the social relationships they mediate and the behaviours they celebrate. They touch on ideas of what it is to be properly ‘human’ and where the boundaries of humanity lie.
Even very basic wearable technologies—clothing, jewelry, a wooden tooth or prosthetic leg—have always been bound up with the art of technique: ideas, behaviours, and materials come together on our bodies so as to mediate our human condition. Each has its own evolving cultural norms: just think of variation across time and culture of tattoos and body piercings, the favorite paper topic for...
Case Study—This case demonstrates the power of video as a data collection tool and a storytelling approach to the presentation of research findings. Fresh Produce Clothing specifically selected Bad Babysitter as a consulting partner for their expertise in video-based ethnography and narrative style of delivery. The case begins with contextualizing a business with an imperative to evolve and an organizational culture that was not aligned. The locus of the debate was the Plus Sized shopper – a consumer segment that put interpretation of hard data by headquarters at odds with impassioned anecdotal inputs from the field. Video offered a visceral way to get past conjecture and “bring her into the room”. The primary benefit to the brand was the immediacy for translating learning into actionable insights and consensus on the way forward. The revenue impact was dramatic: leadership took a 180-degree turn from phasing the Plus shopper out to investing in her....
by PATRICIA L. SUNDERLAND, Practica Group, LLC
You’ve probably been there—in a security line at Laguardia airport, still fuzzy with jet lag. I stood in one recently—just a few days after returning from Addis Ababa, Ethiopia—and certain quotidian details of life in the US were still jumping out in shocking relief.
In front of me were two women and a baby around 18 months old; perhaps mother, daughter, grandmother. In a sudden gesture the older woman got out of line, hastily bid her goodbyes, and ran off. Why run away like that, leave her daughter and granddaughter just standing there in line rather than spend the mere minute or two more it would take see them go through? Did she have an appointment to keep? Was she eager to avoid an extra charge at airport parking?
I was surprised because this casual scene in the US is an unlikely one in Ethiopia. There, relations with people matter more than almost anything else, and time is not a precious commodity; time extends, “time is your friend” I heard there.
As I mused...
EPIC Profiles Series
by PHIL BICKERDIKE, Swinburne University
I caught up with Johannes Suikkanen after he returned to Helsinki from EPIC2014 in New York City to discuss his career, ethnographic praxis and the future of the EPIC community. Johannes co-founded Gemic, a human-centric strategy and innovation consultancy, about six years ago – and it has been a fascinating journey.
Johannes first encountered the intersection between the worlds of business and anthropology as a student. Coming from a family that was deeply interested in humanities, his rebellion against his parents was to go to business school. Originally focusing on economics and traditional management science, he faced a dilemma:
“I always felt that in the way economics and management sciences look at human beings, there was something fundamentally wrong in my opinion. The view was of a rational agent that maximizes his or her own benefit and it was always about an individual. At that time, economics that I became familiar with (or management science)...