While billions of people are established internet users, there are still billions of new users who have just come online in recent years and this growth will continue, especially on mobile in non-Western countries. Information seeking is essential to online behavior across the world, yet many prominent information-seeking platforms are heavily influenced by Western design patterns and use cases that originate from desktop. As we anticipate the future of information-seeking designs for new users, we explore opportunities to improve the experience by establishing a framework to evaluate common barriers to information seeking online across cultures.
Qualitative insights were collected from 164 participants to understand information-seeking patterns and barriers for users across three countries: Nigeria, Mexico, and India. Interviews were conducted with participants in their day-to-day environment, including home, work, internet cafes, markets, and university campuses. For every region, the overarching...
Emerging technologies such as drones, sensors, mesh networks and IoT have significant potential to bring new life-changing services and benefits to places where infrastructure and ICT access is still limited. Nevertheless, many companies have already failed in the attempt to bring new solutions to the underserved population in emerging markets due to gaps in understanding capability and lack of systemic approach....
University College London
Xerox Research Centre, India
This paper explores how the ‘Free Basics’ initiative in India got transformed into a national debate on ‘net neutrality’ principle and finally led to it being banned in India. Further, this paper will also use ethnographic data to analyse how this ‘controversial’ initiative was debated, the claims it made and the actual ground level reality in the state of Tamil Nadu....
International Innovation Corps (IIC) at the University of Chicago
International Innovation Corps (IIC) at the University of Chicago
Case Study—Based on experience of working in the Department of School Education, Government of Haryana on a Management Information System being built to reduce administrative workload on teachers and bureaucrats, this case study describes how ethnography was used to understand and address the problem of technology adoption in a large bureaucracy. Ethnography helped the Department in framing the problem of adoption as one of lack of adequate Digital Literacy within the organization and in developing strategies to address it. Digital Literacy workshops were conducted to improve broader Digital Literacies in the Department, which improved literacy levels by 48%. For ensuring sustainability of this initiative, the Department instituted a continuous Digital Literacy program, which will support the adoption of multiple technology projects in the future.
Núcleo de Multimídia e Internet, University of Brasilia, Brazil MARCELO JUDICE
Núcleo de Multimídia e Internet, University of Brasilia, Brazil ILPO KOSKINEN
School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hong Kong
This paper describes two projects, Vila Rosario and Vila Mimosa, two pieces of ethnographic research that aimed at improving public health in poor corners of Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The research sought to improve public health in these two marginalized communities in Rio de Janeiro. The main objective of the paper is to explain how Surrealist techniques can be applied to enrich ethnographic fieldwork. The broader question of the paper is the tension between these imaginative techniques work with fieldwork, a tension that goes back to the disciplinary differences between design and the social sciences....
University of North Texas MOLLY SHADE
University of North Texas
Information Technology (IT) professionals are racing to keep up with cyber-security threats in the workplace. But, as any cyber-security expert will tell you, security technology is only as good as the people who use it. And, people are a mystery to most cyber-security professionals making them the weak link for security interventions in organizations. To broadly impact current cyber-security awareness, interventions and education, it is crucial to understand how security is understood and applied by the users of technology. Thus, it is no surprise that more and more cyber-security studies are focusing on the individual employee to understand computer-user risk mediation. However, users and their actions do not exist in a vacuum, and their perceptions and subsequent behaviors regarding security risk are shaped by a vast array of beliefs, social relations and workplace practices. This paper reports on a fresh theoretical approach to cyber-security as a group...
Understanding Internet connectivity in remote regions presents a host of logistical and methodological challenges. As researchers and business professionals, we cannot just assume that these places are simply Unconnected. We must understand the challenges people face in connecting, in what ways they have connectivity, and in what ways they do not. This paper examines research methods and framing to investigate Internet connectivity options for residents of the diverse terrain of the Himalayan foothills....
by DAVID NEMER, Indiana University
Favelas are the urban slums of Brazil. Slums—the image is already filling your mind—are marginalized areas of society without state investments, without basic needs: infrastructure, sanitation, road systems, health, education. They also lack access to information and communication technologies (ICTs). Why, then, are they important places for studying “advanced” topics like technology, knowledge economy, and sociotechnical practices? What could they have to teach us?
Outsiders often see favela residents as “untamed” and digitally illiterate. But during eight months of ethnographic fieldwork in the slums of Brazil, I saw people challenging the notion of “resource poverty,” appropriating ICTs and skill building in innovative ways. Favela residents critically engage with artifacts designed for advanced industrialized contexts and have to develop their skills of bricolage to survive in a broken environment where repair was a constant socio-technical practice. Favelas are considered...
by SALLY A. APPLIN, University of Kent, Canterbury - Centre for Social Anthropology and Computing
The United States is in the midst of a new chapter in policing. In several very public cases, police have made fatal errors with regard to identifying criminal suspects and have shot and killed unarmed citizens by mistake. Societal outrage, protests and debates have ensued as these types of episodes continue to occur, reigniting important conversations about racism, socioeconomic divides, and policing budgets.
Unfortunately, there is a major aspect of contemporary law enforcement that rarely makes an appearance in the ongoing conversations about policing; the communications landscape within which police systems are embedded, and the complex interrelationship between the police, their communications systems, and the people that they serve and protect. Police vehicles contain massive amounts of communications equipment, and it is worth examining whether or not communications equipment in police vehicles is standard between vehicles; which...
This paper presents what it means for the low income, non user segment to have ‘technological voices’ and in turn ‘be heard’ socially and economically. It argues that the ICT liberates low income people to explore ways in which technology might help to support their livelihood. We draw on recent ethnographic research conducted in Bangladesh on the low income, non user segment. Some of the questions this paper seeks to answer are as follows: What constraints do people have when using communication access technology? How do they modify communication access technology to better suit their lifestyle and livelihood? As the provider of service, how can we be constantly aware of the need to modify features and make the necessary modifications?...
NIMMI RANGASWAMY and KENTARO TOYAMA
The paper attempts to analyse rapidly changing rural Indian socio-economic landscapes from a recent empirical study of rural PC kiosks. Rural contexts in India are essentially composite and digitally immature communication ecologies. Some of the questions we wanted to answer were as follows: How do computing technologies find their way into a rural community? Who are the people driving this technology? How technology is being received by the community? Breaking away from a committed long-term participatory ethnography in a bounded field, we consider an array of wider contexts and a repertoire of methods available for qualitative research to study societies in transition....
DANNY MILLERThank you very much, indeed. I’m really delighted to be here and to meet this community. I hope that this will be the start of an engagement.
As I think it’s sort of clear, I am a pretty academic anthropologist. That makes me a bit anxious, because I do remember going to something a bit like this a long time ago, and the keynote was this kind of academic anthropologist. It was very much this sense of they were standing there and it was like what they had done was so important and so kind of profound. Yes, there were these people doing this kind of more applied work. Well, I suppose you’ve got to do something for a living, but with all of these theories, you know, we can help you do this kind of thing.And when you actually look, I think these days the work of the kind of people who stand up and say that, I would actually say that they’re the kind of theoretical academic work going on in the social sciences today—it is actually increasingly problematic. I think an awful lot of it is very pretentious; it’s very...
AKIHIKO OBATA, SHIGERU YAMADA, HIROAKI HARADA, SADAYO HIRATA and SEISUKE ITO
We propose a new approach for project inspection applying ethnography to identifying IT system project risks. Guideline-based inspection is generally conducted in the IT industry to reduce project risks. Guidelines are created based on analysis of failures in past projects. However, it is difficult to detect new risks that emerged according to changes of project environments. We hypothesized that an ethnographic method would have some value to detect such emerging risks by capturing insiders’ perspectives. We developed procedures and guidelines to conduct inspection by ethnographic approach for IT experts. To clarify the value of the method, we conducted project inspection by the ethnographic approach on two projects that have already received guideline-based inspection. Problems found by the ethnographic inspection were not quite new for the members observed and interviewed. However, the ethnographic inspection successfully captured tacit problems that...
KNOWL BAEK, KYLE DUKE, ROY LUO, MONICA LEE and ANIJO MATHEW
This paper illustrates how the concept of “Human API” can help cancer post-treatment cancer patients with challenges they face once they are released from the hospital. The results and implications of this semester long graduate project will help illuminate how the Human API through its various data collection methods could potentially play a larger role in extended cancer care. The research will also attempt to determine if hyper-connected networks of individual patients could become effective sources of information for health institutions to engage and connect with patients after treatment or surgery....
COLLEEN M. HEINE
Throughout human history, music has been central to the fabric of society. Music is a powerful form of communication, it helps us relate to one another, make sense of the world, and commemorate moments together. Yet, music is often perceived as an extraneous element in a local economy (Markusen 2003), and the occupation “musician”—with the rare exceptions of those who achieve mainstream recognition—often conjures images of the starving artist or delinquent idler. What if the value of a local music scene could be made clear from an economic and cultural perspective? What is the value of a local music scene in establishing an identity of place? How can a city facilitate the conditions for a local music scene to exist and thrive? Although music plays a key role in a city’s creative and cultural life, a local music scene is too often overlooked as a driver for economic and community development. Through ethnographic research, this study uncovers the collective needs and vision for the future of the local music...