participatory design

Futures in Things: Locating the Promise of Infrastructures in Public Libraries

SANDJAR KOZUBEV Georgia Institute of Technology CARL DISALVO Georgia Institute of Technology Public libraries in the U.S. and around the world are rapidly changing due expanding technological and social needs of their communities. The Covid-19 pandemic has intensified the debates about the future of public spaces and public services. In this paper, we report on a qualitative study of librarians in a U.S. urban public library system. The focus of the study was to understand how the concept of “the future of library” is constructed and contested both socially and materially. Using mixed methods, including participant observation, interviews, participatory design and action research, we developed insights about the socio-political dynamics of futures in a public infrastructure. We argue that futures can be shaped not only by socio-technical imaginaries, and representations, which tend to be abstract and distant, but also by socio-material conditions in the present. Specifically, drawing on the work of infrastructure studies,...

Tutorial: Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design

Power Tools for Equity in Research & Design
CHELSEA MAULDIN (Executive Director, Public Policy Lab) & NATALIA RADYWYL (Research Director, Public Policy Lab) This tutorial gives you robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity through a project life cycle. Overview This tutorial was conducted at EPIC2021. Exercises and discussions have been omitted to protect the privacy of participants. To do ethical, equitable work in any domain, we need robust tools for assessing and addressing power. Whether we’re creating products, services, or policies, inequities can create direct and indirect risks for research participants and underserved populations. This tutorial gives you robust, actionable tools for navigating inequity through a project life cycle. Public Policy Lab developed Power Tools over many years of innovative and effective work with at-risk communities. Across planning, research, design, and implementation, the instructors will teach you how to use Power Tools to check biases, inform theories of change and logic models, identify effective participatory...

Who Gets to Define Success?: Listening to Stories of How People Value Firefox to Redefine Metrics and Revive a Decommissioned Product

GEMMA PETRIE Mozilla Firefox JENNIFER DAVIDSON Mozilla Firefox Challenging measures of scale is possible through listening to stories of how people value a product, and envisioning ways to measure success beyond typical metrics like Monthly Active Use (MAU) or Daily Active Use (DAU). Understanding what people value is somewhat complex for a product like Firefox because people might use Firefox every day without thinking much about it. In this case study, we detail how we used Futures Thinking and participatory design methods to elicit stories of how people value Firefox. This case study demonstrates that a relatively small number of meaningful ethnographic insights can be powerful enough to influence business strategy. By creating the space for listening to stories and encouraging stakeholder involvement, we were able to make the case to save one of our mobile browsers, Firefox Focus, despite its lack of scale. Keywords: Diary Study, Firefox, Futures Thinking, Interviews, Mozilla, Participatory Design, Remote Research,...

Tutorial: Participatory Visual Research—Getting the Most from Collaborative Methods

KRISTA HARPER University of Massachusetts Amherst Overview Participatory visual research methods like Photovoice open up opportunities for collaborative sense-making and advocacy. In these methodologies, data and knowledge are produced not only as an end product, but also in process. As participant-researchers contribute to research design, ethical discussions, data collection, analysis, and presentation of results, they communicate users’ values and concerns that can inform better organizational practices and improve products and services. In the first part of this workshop, you will learn about participatory visual research methods, from their foundations as methodology developed in the global South to promote the public’s “right to research” (Appadurai) to their application in a variety of organizational settings and design projects. In the second segment, you will take part in a hands-on Photovoice workshop exercise designed to open up questions of visual representation, ethics, and participation. In the final...

Market Creation Through Community Engagement: Combining Ethnographic and Business Thinking to Bridge Life-Changing Technologies to Emerging Economies

CRAIG CISERO Frog ROBERTA TASSI Frog 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....

Participatory Design: Re-evaluation as a Socio-material Assembly

PETER HASDELL School of Design, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University This paper aims towards a critical re-evaluation of Participatory Design processes based on a completed collaborative research (2015) in rural China. The study involved two complementary disciplines; the Applied Social Sciences and Design and their corresponding research methodologies; Action Research and Participatory Design aligning the social and the physical. The resulting design and implementation of a community kitchen in rural China enabled villagers to develop social enterprises and new types of collective organizations. With Action Research providing the necessary ‘software’ for social organization and engagement, facilitating the development of ‘hardware’ or design outcomes through participatory processes. Beyond design and social outcomes, the study raised questions concerning the critical, conceptual and praxis underpinnings of Participatory Design that impact its effectiveness as a tool. Participatory Design, sometimes panacea for an objectified...

“Understanding the World through Engagement”: Jeanette Blomberg, A Profile

EPIC Profiles Series by CHRISTINE T. WOLF, IBM Research How can risk-taking propel an ethnographic career? Just ask Jeanette Blomberg, who is no stranger to professional risk-taking. Her career journey, including major contributions at foundational tech giants in Silicon Valley, has centered on making participation in various forms core to ethnographic work. Jeanette is Principal Researcher at IBM Research – Almaden Research Center (ARC), where she has been for 13 years. Previously, she was Director of Experience Modeling at Sapient, Professor at the Blekinge Institute of Technology in Sweden, and founding member of the Work Practice and Technology group at Xerox – PARC (Palo Alto Research Center). I’ve gotten to know Jeanette over the past year, working as an intern and student researcher in the area of work practice analytics under her guidance at IBM. We set aside time to discuss her professional experiences on the occasion of her recent induction into IBM’s Academy of Technology, a high honor within the corporation...

Working for Social Change

by CHUCK DARRAH, San Jose State University Chuck Darrah and Jeanette Blomberg are Host and Discussan of the EPIC2016 Salon Working for Social Change. Join them at EPIC2016! No matter the source of your employment, whether in the commercial sector or academia, we all want our work lives to add up to something positive. Yet it is easy to wonder how this or that project actually affected the world for better or worse. What can we do to make the next project better? How can we take what we learned so we can repeat the success in other projects or settings? Jeanette Blomberg and I have been engaged in an extended conversation with each other for over a decade about the relationship between our day jobs and our interest in promoting social change. The EPIC2016 Salon Working for Social Change is a chance for our community to reflect on the complexities of making the world a better place through our labor as EPIC practitioners and academics, both individually and collectively. Jeanette has spent a career working primarily in the...

Ethnography of Civic Participation: The Difficulty of Showing Up Even when You Are There

by THOMAS LODATO, Center for Urban Innovation, Georgia Institute of Technology Article 3 in the series Data, Design and Civics: Ethnographic Perspectives The days of gathering in the forum are long gone. Today, the sphere of American civics is teeming with new forms of participation—from emergent advocacy organizations like MoveOn.orgi and shifting information paradigmsii to “personalized politics”iii and debates centered on computational data.iv Civics has moved beyond a notion of informed citizenship—of being educated on issues and debates, as well as keen enough to synthesize and respond (hopefully in the form of votes) to shape government. Now, in order to hold elected officials accountable, or to expose the shadowy ongoings of bureaucrats, or to reimagine a government suited for the pace of the 21st century, citizens must lead the charge to actively craft political opinion, civic life, and government itself. Of course, civic engagement has never been as straightforward as our historical fantasy of the public forum—there...

BarnRaise: IIT Institute of Design Creates Systemic, Transdisciplinary Collaborative Models

by ROXANNE KNAPP, IIT Institute of Design The Institute of Design (ID) at the Illinois Institute of Technology is building thought leadership and practice around using design to innovate for humanity’s most pressing, confounding issues. The world faces daunting global challenges—complex, fast-changing, and unpredictable problems—that design strategy is uniquely poised to address. Our students explore how the practice of design is evolving in response to large-scale economic, social, and technical changes. Our faculty teach methods and frameworks that support an emerging kind of design, one in which designers coordinate relationships between systems and foster conditions in which ecologies can grow. For over a decade, ID graduate students curated the Design Research Conference, which brought together a growing community of design professionals advancing the role of design research in innovation. Then in 2014, a group of students saw an opportunity to re-envision the event, aligning it with the changing role of design and two...