representation

Tutorial: An Ethnographer’s Guide to 360 Video

Tutorial: An Ethnographer's Guide to 360 Video
Gain a critical and technical understanding of the benefits, affordances and production workflows of 360 video as an ethnographic and research medium Instructors: KARL MENDONCA &  BRYAN WOODS, Google Overview This video has been edited to protect the privacy of participants in the live tutorial. A goal of ethnographic fieldwork is to be able to experience the world from another person’s perspective, inhabiting their point of view as they go about their everyday routines, tasks, and interactions. For ethnographers and researchers, the growing availability of high-quality 360 video presents an opportunity to get a deeper understanding of other points of view, as well as instill a deep and profound sense of empathy toward end-users in our stakeholders. And with the turbulence of the pandemic, it has been an opportunity to develop a deeper understanding of contextually situated behaviors when actual co-presence was restricted. As we embrace and learn to work with this incredible medium, we must ask core ethnographic...

Dismantling Stereotypes: Taking an Inside-Out Perspective to Building Better Representation in Advertising for Unilever

STEPHANIE BARRETT Quantum Consumer Solutions SIDDHARTH KANORIA Quantum Consumer Solutions Equality, inclusion, and representation are increasingly acknowledged as core tenets of prosperous countries, cities, and organizations. We know that equality is essential, and we also know equality must be enacted on all fronts. Brands and other social organizations are increasingly recognizing their role as social stakeholders, committed to building a society in which both people and their businesses can thrive in the long-term. Quantum Consumer Solutions and Unilever have partnered on this program of four projects to understand and reduce stereotypes and improve representation. We used a mixed-methods approach, including semiotics, qualitative research, expert interviews, springboards, and internal organizational change to improve inclusivity in communications, pack, and products. Readers can expect to learn why we recommend an ‘inside-out’ approach that combines organizational change with external initiatives, why we need to approach...

Beyond Representation: Using Infrastructure Studies to Reframe Ethnographic Agendas and Outcomes

Still image of Karl Mendonca presenting at EPIC2022
KARL MENDONCA Google The ethos and methods of participatory research have been widely embraced as a powerful approach to address systemic inequity in the design of technology. While there have been many gains and developments that merit celebration, an unspoken, prevalent assumption is that inclusive forms of engagement will unequivocally result in a more inclusive product. Using the case study of an ethnographic project, this paper critically examines how the task of producing “better” (more ethical, more participatory, more statistically diverse) representations, had the unintended consequence of displacing structural outcomes to questions of aesthetics and statistical sampling. An investigation into the cause of this displacement reveals the resilience of deeper historical biases that persist from the early years of electronic computing. As a possible remedial framework, this paper introduces the field of infrastructure studies, which makes an explicit connection between the material, historical and semiotic dimensions...

Representation and Expertise on the Conference Stage: Lauren Rhodes is Shifting Norms for Panels

We need to rethink who we put forward as experts. Who is not being represented? - Lauren Rhodes, Design Research Strategist, Crown Equipment Corp; Panels Chair, EPIC2021
Welcome to EPISODE FOUR in a series of conversations with some of the makers and speakers of EPIC2021—a global, virtual conference and community promoting ethnography for impact in business, organizations and communities. In this episode, Luc Aractingi talks with Lauren Rhodes, Design Research Strategist at Crown Equipment Corporation and Chair of the EPIC2021 Panels Program. Find out how Lauren is shifting norms about who gets staged as an "expert", and get her pro tips for networking and getting involved. TRANSCRIPT LUC: Hello and welcome to EPIC interviews, a series where we get to know the makers and the host of the conference EPIC2021. Today we are interviewing Lauren Rhodes. Hello, thanks for being here. LAUREN: Thank you for having me. LUC: I was wondering if you could describe your job to a stranger. LAUREN: If I could describe my job to a stranger. My actual title is Design Research Strategist at Crown Equipment Corporation, which is a manufacturing company based in New Bremen, Ohio. We make forklifts. The equipment...

The Org Chart as Political Map-Making

by JASMINE CHIA & SAMUEL HAGEN A senior leadership team gathers in the executive boardroom. The doors are closed; the glass is opaque. Sparkling water is served. Projected on the conference screen is not a financial statement, or an operating report, but instead, an intricate diagram resembling a map or relational lineage. The subject of the meeting is the company’s reorganization – a “reorg.” Perhaps a desperate cost-cutting measure, or perhaps a tactfully planned efficiency boost, this reorg is led by a team of outside management consultants who drew the diagram slide and now lead the meeting. A confluence of rectangular boxes – “heads” – are organized according to hierarchy, with the CEO (and her board) on top; one notch down are the leaders of each business unit – Product, Sales, Finance, Human Resources. But the way these organizational charts will be re-drawn is not a purely functional exercise – like map-making, it is deeply symbolic and imbued with power. Figure 1 (left): First organizational chart...

Ethnographic ‘Weirdness’: Attending to Indicators of the Unfamiliar

CHARLEY SCULL Filament Insight & Innovation This presentation begins with ethnographic research of an Indonesian tuna fishery in which a field partner describes unfamiliar cultural behavior as ‘weird’. Using that moment as a starting point, the paper then undertakes a reflection on the usage and meaning of the term. It explores ‘weirdness’ through a range of core tenets, like cultural relativism, empathy and ethnocentrism and then plays with the meaning of weirdness across a number of disciplinary and market lenses. The talk builds to a provocation about the ways in which ‘weird’ can serve as a call to action. It concludes that researchers should use ‘weird’ as an indicator that helps them know where they need to dig deeper, in search of empathic understanding and where they need to reconcile their biases. By doing so, the talk argues, we are giving agency to the data which we don't yet understand. Charley Scull is a visual anthropologist, ethnographer, insight strategist and UX researcher. He has worked...

Representation & Representative-ness

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 our research and recommendations to clients...

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...

Expedience, Exigence and Ethics

by ELIZABETH CHURCHILL, Vice President, ACM This is a cautionary tale featuring a well-structured memo and an effective, carefully designed infographic. Both of these artifacts could be considered excellent examples of their respective crafts—the first of technical communication, and the second of graphical information design. Both are also examples of how ethics can be subsumed to expedience, and how the everyday practices of their production were subject to the exigencies of locally acceptable rhetorics and social order. I believe the stories of these artifacts are cautionary tales for us and our own work. Through the (admittedly dark) cautionary tales of these artifacts, I invite us to consider the conditions in which we, EPIC attendees and our international community, produce artifacts that convey “evidence”. I invite us to question the milieux and “atmospheres” in which we work, the sources from which we collect data, our practices and processes when producing evidencing rhetorics, and the role of such evidence in...

Semiotics: A User’s Guide to Seeing Differently

In this course, you’ll learn and apply the techniques of Semiotics for commercial applications across business and brand strategy, innovation, design, communication & activation. INSTRUCTORS: CATO HUNT & JAMES WOODHEAD, Space Doctors ENROLLMENT: 20 max SCHEDULE: 2023 dates TBD REGISTRATION: A current EPIC Membership ($150) plus course fee: Regular price US$700 Choose this price if…

Tell Me Why You Did That: Learning “Ethnography” from the Design Studio

ANNEMARIE DORLAND University of Calgary This paper questions the role and form of ethnography in the studio setting through a comparative analysis of interviews with service and brand designers, and the promotional rhetoric of the studio organizations in which they work. It proposes that the way in which designers practice ‘ethnography’ consists of an adapted and hybrid methodological approach based not on theoretically informed data collection, analysis and interpretation, but instead of an assemblage of embodied research approaches. The ways in which designers substitute proxy audience membership, performance and praxiography for traditional ethnographic methods in their creative work and their acts of negotiation between the structural expectations of the studio organization and their own practice of cultural production are considered. Keywords: Design Ethnography, Design Research, Methodology, Practice...

Understanding Users: The Extensions of Expectant Systems

AMIR-POUYAN SHIVA University of Minnesota-Twin Cities This paper provides an ethnographic understanding of users in the Persian blogosphere through the framework of the carnivalesque. The repertoire of concepts provided by the carnivalesque draws attention to (1) the significance of the material, (2) the dynamic, transforming nature of things, and (3) the possibility of upsetting hierarchies. Drawing upon these insights, ethnographic evidence in this paper suggests that in the Persian blogosphere the material expression of thoughts at times precedes thoughts themselves. The same thoughts may then in turn be used by bloggers in transforming selves. The materiality of the tools bloggers use also contributes to self-fashioning in the Persian blogosphere as the formal properties of blogging services turn users into the instruments of their functionality. Blogs in this sense are expectant systems that demand specific intervention from users so they can function. As such, this paper in the tradition of the carnivalesque playfully turns...

Tutorial: Semiotics – A User’s Guide to Seeing Differently

Tutorial Instructors: CATO HUNT Space Doctors CLEM MCCULLOCH Space Doctors Download PDF SUMMARY Semiotic insight powerfully complements ethnographic approaches. Semiotics, the study of signs and cultural meaning, has been gaining ground in the world of commercial research. Semiotics has also been successfully melded together with ethnographic and other cultural approaches, especially in the UK and Europe. This tutorial equipped participants with the tools, techniques and hands-on experience needed to begin their own semiotic research endeavors. Opening with a grounding in semiotic theory, we then focused on building practical skills through ‘live decoding’ of a cultural theme. We began by learning how to ‘decode’ – exploring how a semiotic close read analysis can reveal a deeper understanding of what is really being said. Crucially, we discussed the chasm that often appears between intended meaning and received meaning, especially within brand communication. We then introduced the idea of codes (themes, or clusters...

Moments of Disjuncture: The Value of Corporate Ethnography in the Research Industrial Complex

SHAHEEN AMIREBRAHIMI University of California Davis This paper seeks to examine some of the underlying tensions that shape how and why ethnographers in industry often find their efforts devalued or not realized by stakeholders – i.e. “moments of disjuncture.” I argue that in many large corporations there is a separation between the stories anthropologists tell about themselves and those which are told about them, which mutually constitute an “informed fiction.” This fiction acts as a catalyst within a broader cycle of knowledge exchange (the industrial research complex) that demands a fast paced churning out of “newness” in insights before they grow old. These two processes often come to a head, creating a “seen it before” phenomena which risks devaluing timely and important work. To understand this I examine a case study of smart and automated technologies and offer potential solutions....

Radical Insights: Towards a Critical Hermeneutic

KARL MENDONCA University of California Santa Cruz In this paper, I will use an ethnographic research project to develop a set of foundational personas to work through the process of formulating insights that challenged the core epistemological assumptions of our stakeholders. Drawing on a rich body of discourse within postcolonial theory, I will highlight the concept of critical hermeneutics that emphasizes thinking about the conditions under which knowledge is produced over the “facticity” of the research artifacts, shifting the focus from “how objective is the information” to “what assumptions are driving research.” Put simply, critical hermeneutics can be seen as a method that uses reflexivity to explain how meaning is not absolute or empirical, but rather emerges from active interpretation that is informed by context. With this theoretical framework in mind, I will describe the methods used to include our stakeholders in the process of engaging with research data and ultimately derive the epistemological cores of the...